The American Dream
There is no set definition to be found anywhere of the true meaning of The American Dream. Any hope, dream, or goal which was pursued by anyone in the history of America is on an American Dream.In modern times the accepted dream seems to be 2.5 children, a house with a white picket fence, and a perfect spouse. However, as it is shown through out literature from the early days of America to contemporary times the American Dream is not always so simple a concept.
America was originally founded on the dream of freedom.People have freedom to pursue what they want.That is the ideal behind the American Dream. Early stories in American literature are about peoples pursuit of the freedom to worship as they pleased. Another version of the American Dream is the hope that immmigrants had of building a better life for their children than they had, as shown in the book My Antonia. Another is the search for acceptance, which is shown in the book Black Boy. Another is simply the hope to survive, as shown in the book Lord of the Flies.
Whatever the dream, the most interesting thing that can be read or written about it is the drive of people to attain it.This is best shown in The Great Gatsby.
The Pursuit of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby,a novel by F,Scott Fitzgerald,is about the American Dream,and the downfall of the people who try to reach it.The American Dream means something different to different people,but in The Great Gatsby,for Jay Gatsby,the subject of the book,the dream is that through acquiring wealth and power,one can also gain happiness.To reach his idea of what happiness is,Gatsby must go back in time and relive an old dream.To do this,he believes,he must first have wealth and power.
Jay Gatsby is a man who does not wish to live in the present because it offers him nothing.He spends the majority of his adult life trying to recapture his past and,eventually,dies in his pursuit of it.The reason he wishes to relive the past is because long ago he had a love affair with the rich Daisy Buchanan,who he fell deeply in love with.However,he knew that they could never get married due to the difference in their economic and social statuses.He wants to marry her,but because of this problem he leaves her to gain wealth and social status in order to reach her standards.Once he reaches his goal of gaining the appropriate amount of wealth,he buys a house which is close to hers
“Gatsby bought that house so Daisy would be just across the bay(p83).”He throws huge,extravagant parties,in hope that she might happen to show up at one of them.Gatsby does not actually even attend thes parties,as he is not much of a socializer,instead he only watches them from a distance,inside his house.After a while he grows tired of waiting for Daisy to show up,So he tries to find out if anyone knows her by asking around.Eventually he meets Nick Carraway,the narrator of the novel,who is a cousin of Daisy.After some discussion Nick agrees to set up a meeting between Gatsby and Daisy.Gatsby’s personal dream symbolizes a larger version of the American Dream where everyone has the opportunity to try to get what they want.
Later on in the novel,it is shown that Gatsby thinks that Daisy feels the same way about him that he does about her.It proves that he is convinced of this when he takes the blame for the death of Myrtle.He says that he was driving when in reality Daisy was.He also feels the need to watch over her and protest her as she returns home.Unfortunately for him,Gatsby cannot seem to accept the fact that the past is over and gone.He is determined to capture his dream and is positive that he can do this because of his wealth and power.He also thinks that he was acting for a greater good beyond his own personal gain and that should definitely grant him success.Nick Carraway tries to show Gatsby the futility in trying to fulfill his dream by assuring Gatsby that no one can relive the past no matter how hard the try,but Gatsby is sure that he can and replies”Yes you can,old sport(155).”This proves the confidence he has in his American Dream.His dream,although it may seem that way,is not material possesions,money,or social status.He only gains these things an hope that he can fulfill what is really his American Dream,the love of Daisy.
Gatsby refuses to give up until he reaches the fulfillment of his American Dream.The sad thing is that he never does,and he ends up dyingwithout it ever happening.There is one truth about the idea of the American Dream,wether it’s a better life for one’s children,acceptance,or merely survival;everyone wants something out of life and everyone,in their own way,tries to get it.