The idea of the American Dream depicted in Fitzerald’s “The Great Gatsby”

Essay Questions:

What did the American Dream mean for the representatives of the society of the Great Gatsby?

In what way the life of the society of the times of Gatsby is full of materialistic spirit?

Who did money and position change the life of Gatsby?

Thesis Statement:

One of the most brilliant examples revealing a particular point of view on the matter is the outstanding work of Scott Fitzgerald – “The Great Gatsby”. Fitzgerald shows how this dream is full of materialism, how materialism influencing the lives of people makes it hard for them so see the reality objectively.

The Idea of American Dream in “The Great Gatsby” Essay

“Hurry, hurry, hurry! Step up and see the Great Gatsby”

Introduction: So many things have been said about the American Dream; so many people have struggled against themselves to prove that it does not only exist but can also be achieved. So many people worked hard and devoted their lives to this dream. Do we really and profoundly feel what it means, or do we keep following the stereotypes that we have created in our very own minds. To make a long story short – What is an American Dream? One of the most brilliant examples revealing a particular point of view on the matter is the outstanding work of Scott Fitzgerald – “The Great Gatsby”. Fitzgerald shows how this dream is full of materialism, how materialism influencing the lives of people makes it hard for them so see the reality objectively. As the result of being so materialistic Fitzgerald’s characters start idealizing not only their way of life but their feelings, too. Their existance seems to be a theatre performance, where the actors are obviously overacting.

Fitzgerald shares his determination of the “American dream” mainly through the character of Jay Gatsby. Being a man who shows through his own actions that success is his prerogative, he truly believes in the “American dream of success”. He is a man that gets whatever he wants and gets it primarily by the means of money. As Fitzgerald shows Gatsby’s life we see how easily he can change anything with the help of money if he wants to. Therefore we can assume, that psychologically he is not ready to take things for what they are. We suppose that it is the reason for his idealization of love that later on lead to the collapse of his dream, the collapse of the American dream.Scott Fitzgerald shows the Gatsby’s encirclement and he shows the core of “the dream” through their desire to realize it. “Sure I did. I was going to wear it to- night, but it was too big in the bust and had to be altered. It was gas blue with lavender beads. Two hundred and sixty-five dollars.”[Fitzgerald 36] – answers the girl after being simply asked by Nick Carraway if she had accepted a gift. The stress on materialism and mentioning money and material things wherever it is possible is a characteristical trait of people representing the era of Fitzgerald’s “American dream”.

Fitzerald shows how Gatsby almost fulfills the dream having all of its requirements: position, money and his unique perception of the world that “attracted” people. . “So he invented the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen year old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end [Fitzgerald 29].” He creates a new man – Jay Gatsby and becomes successful in living his life. Nevertheless, last of the requirements: “ ideal love” was nevertheless not fulfilled and it started the collapse of the “American dream”. For love cannot be bought with anything. He made all the money with the only aim- he knew that Daisy wanted to marry a rich man therefore he considered this way to be the only way to unite him with his true love. The understanding of the dream by the characters in the book is garbled and that is the primary reason they fail to realize the true message of the dream. Fitzerald is obviously criticizing the American Dream in “The Great Gatsby”.The question he asks is from out point of view a vital question concerning people trying to achieve it: Is this dream really worth of achieving on such almost impossible conditions? And therefore do we really need this kind of a dream? Gatsby’s life is actually going on in the past, though he lives in the present because everything he does is done to change it. Fitzerald reveals to the reader that happiness is not a thing, which you can buy with money or handpick with power. His fulfillment of the requirements oh the “Dream” has come to such a point that between the lines the reader sees how desperate he is. So what is the American Dream that is criticized in the definition of Scott Fitzgerald? It is successful life and work through which people obtain the material acknowledgement of their success and become happy when they do. The problem is that having the person you “love” also start being a “material acknowledgement”, too.

Conclusion: The essence of the book is that when the moral principles are low, people choose any means for achieving success and people are interested only in the result. The real understanding of the “American dream” is lost by the characters in this book and by this Fitzerald shows that there is no need for a dream like this. It is a dream with the same name, but with a different content. Having money is not a guarantee of true happiness. “Her voice is full of money [Fitzerald 102],” says Gatsby, “I can buy her,” means Fitzgerald. We want to conclude using the scene when Daisy does confess that she was the one driving the car and by this she signs Gatsby’s death penalty. She uses Gatsby and he is ready to put her guilt over his shoulders. This little scene shows how much is love and devotion valued and how responsible can these “American dream seekers” be.Success “against all odds” may not bring happiness but in the contrary it may bring even a greater pain and disappointment. What Fitzgerald true believes is that the American dream has been corrupted by materialism, by the effort to substitute the true meaning of the dream with its fake understanding of people who lack morality. We support Scott Fitzgerald in his opinion. This dream will be not achievable as long as people do not stop garbling it. They need to start understanding the real value of the treasure that is so rare nowadays: dignity and forget about materialism.


“The Great Gatsby ” by F. Scott Fitzgerald / New American Library/ 1988.

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