The 1920s exemplified the flaws of the American Dream and the tragic misinterpretation that money outweighed hard work and morals. The Great Gatsby, set in the 1920s, represents the demise of the traditions and values behind the American Dream as the desire to be rich took over. The novel appears to deal with the failed relationship of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, however the overall theme has to do with the culture of the 1920s and the cultural elements that led to the downfall of the American Dream. The new meaning of the American Dream combined with its altered results created the idea that money equated to happiness in the 1920s.
This change was the eventual demise of what the American Dream was as well as the demise of the country as well. During the 1920s, the American Dream was perceived as attainable by anyone, regardless of family history or social status, if they worked hard enough. In the book titled “Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity”, the author Roland Marchand’s definition of a twenties man living the American Dream and Fitzgerald’s portrayal of Jay Gatsby, who has risen from a poor childhood to being a millionaire with servants, a huge house, and dozens of friends, presents a resemblance that is impossible to deny.
While Gatsby does not solely represent the 1920s man living the American Dream, Fitzgerald created a character that resembled the corruption and misinterpretations surrounding the values and ideas behind the American Dream during the time period. The elements of Gatsby’s rise to the upper class and the way his life embodied what the American Dream was actually led it’s demise. In Thorstein Veblen’s “The Theory of the Leisure Class” he writes, “…to gain and hold the esteem of men is not sufficient merely to hold wealth and power.
The Failure of the American Dream In the classic novel The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tom Buchanan, George Wilson and Jay Gatsby fail to achieve the American Dream. The American Dream is the combination of happiness, love and hard honest work. The above characters try throughout the novel to obtain these characteristics but fail in the end. Tom did not live the American Dream due to ...
The wealth and power must be put into evidence. ” Thorstein Veblen, who made known the term “conspicuous consumption” – a term that describes what was happening in The Great Gatsby – was trying expose the way those who rose from nothing to riches and wealth flaunted it in an attempt to gain respect and recognition of their hard work by showing it off. It was not enough anymore to obtain the life of the American Dream without outdoing your neighbor and advertising your success.
The hard work success story became overshadowed by the outcome of the success, allowing society to lose sight of what the American Dream really was. Men like Gatsby overlooked all aspects of the American Dream other than money, and focused on becoming wealthy over all else. Originally, the American Dream was the act of rising through social and economic standings through hard work that was rewarded solely by the satisfaction of having accomplished something. However, men in the 1920s like Gatsby shed away from this tradition and instead flaunted their excessive wealth through materialism.
The houses in The Great Gatsby indicated the relentless competition to prove one’s status, as all of the newly rich attempted to outdo one another. The size and the amenities of their homes, their parties and connections, were all a measure of one’s social status. Gatsby achieved from the outside what looked like the American Dream, and although he had obtained the material status necessary to give that impression, it still wasn’t enough for him. Gatsby had to seek reassurance from others to prove not only to everyone else, but also to himself that he had accomplished something impressive.
Because of this insecurity, Gatsby spent every weekend throwing extravagant, lavish, drunken parties as the host of hundreds of people he did not know. It was not about creating actual relationships, but creating the illusion of his popularity and social status. For Gatsby, the American Dream held no morals or values involving hard work paying off. It was not the reward of achievement and success that drove him to rise in wealth, but the promise of what that wealth would mean. As society evolved and the wealthy gained privileges the poor could only dream of, the meaning of wealth evolved as well.
How Far Do You Consider Gatsby To Be The Epitome Of The American Dream And Its Failure The Great Gatsby is a book written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is set in the nineteen twenties in the unique narrative style which is that he is writing about a fictional character called Nick Carraway writing a book about a man called Jay Gatsby who he feels was a man who represented everything for which I have ...
Money and wealth had changed to equate to happiness and a measurement of a person’s self worth. Gatsby attempted to make a “Somebody” of himself. “The outsized house, together with the lavish parties and the garish clothing, the automobiles and the aquaplane, represent his attempt to establish himself as Somebody, or at least not Nobody. ” (Donaldson) For Gatsby, he needed to gain Daisy’s love to completely accomplish the American Dream and therefore “establish himself as Somebody.
Through his elaborate, excessive house and lavish parties, Gatsby tried to define himself and make himself a Somebody in the rich world; a world he only entered to attain Daisy’s love. For many people in the 1920s, achieving the American Dream meant more than hard work paying off. Instead, it possessed the power to unlock all the perks of the upper class. For Gatsby, it unlocked a once impossible love; for others, it unlocked the elaborate, materialistic consumerism that came with the wealth and status.
The lifestyle itself was the new reward of this achievement rather than the achievement itself being the reward. Rather than hard work and perseverance equating to success, the American Dream represented the idea that money leads to happiness in the 1920s. The American Dream, and the reward of overcoming adversity and beating the system with hard work, had evolved. When Gatsby experienced the letdown that his house, his parties, and his wealth had not allowed him to have Daisy, he let go of it all. He fired his servants and closed his gates to visitors looking for a party.
When the one thing he tried to achieve through his success failed, the rest of the pieces that added to that success began to fall apart and fail too. Others during the twenties experienced this let down when they realized that living the American Dream and becoming wealthy would not solve all their problems; it would not lead them to complete happiness or true love. The expectation that one aspect of this larger ideal could control an individual’s happiness contributed to the downfall of the American Dream as well as society.
"Throughout American history the idea of progress had persisted as a national destiny and a personal dream." In this way Ruth Sidel, author of On Her Own, simply defines "The American Dream." Throughout the novel, The Great Gatsby, the main character, Jay Gatsby, relentlessly strives to achieve this surreal and unattainable dream. The "American Dream," is full of hope that the past can be left ...
The frantic desire to achieve a higher social status and become wealthy took over all aspects of society. Americans were willing to turn to illegal and immoral things to achieve wealth and status while ignoring the values and hard work that had previously defined the American Dream. “Part of the main idea of the American Dream was that it was achieved through hard work and this contradiction between Gatsby’s American Dream-like lifestyle and the means which he achieved it are part of his downfall” (The Demise…Gatsby).
The activities related to Prohibition led to a decline in the American Dream. The idea of the American Dream is that moral, hard working individuals were the only ones rewarded and yet people in the twenties, like Gatsby were achieving the American Dream lifestyle through organized crime related to the Prohibition movement, Gatsby epitomizes the idea of self-made success and yet his wealth and social status were attained through criminal activities and connections.
Through bootlegging and work with the infamous gambler and racketeer Meyer Wolfsheim, the man who “fixed” the World Series, Gatsby was able to achieve the wealth and social status required to be successful in the 1920s. “Wolfsheim showed Gatsby’s dark side and the way that his dream was ultimately corrupted” (The Demise…Gatsby).
Gatsby was not a corrupt man deep down, but through his association with dishonest, wayward people, he gradually became more like them. The corruption in the American Dream stemmed from a corrupt society.
An achievement that once symbolized hard work and good values was now just a status symbol focused on money and achieve through cheating and corruption in society. Ultimately all of these things- the consumerism, materialism, parties, and houses, plus the Prohibition movement led to class struggles between the rich and poor, a superficial wealthy class of people, and an inaccurate perception of the relationship between money and happiness. Those whole exemplified the American Dream were a superficial representation of the American Dream.
... be summed up be what is termed the "American Dream"; a dream of money, wealth, prosperity and the happiness that supposedly came with the ... could have tried to make her marriage with George work and hence achieve happiness, though this can be doubted generally because it ... that were represented in The Great Gatsby there is a running theme of how the American dream affects all of the characters, they ...
The wealthiest people during the twenties, those who embodied the new American Dream, lacked morals, commitment, and dreams in the ultimate contradiction to the ideal American Dream. The perception of the American Dream changed, and the idea that money leads to happiness obviously was not the case. Gatsby’s illegal work was all an excuse to earn money and become close to Daisy, however once again, money could not buy Gatsby happiness nor could it buy him love. As the 1920s progressed, the values and morals surrounding the American Dream deteriorated as the desire to be wealthy consumed them.
Money corrupted the American Dream and drowned out all other aspects of the lifestyle. Many Americans fed into this corruption in illegal ways, furthering the demise of the American Dream. The idea of hard work paying off had evolved and the American Dream became the pursuit of happiness through wealth and social status in 1920s America. While The Great Gatsby may appear to be a love story between Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, the novel portrayed the tragic misinterpretation that the wealth and success in the American Dream was the key to happiness.