A Dead Rich Man
A Dead Rich Man The American Dream as depicted by Fitzgerald in the “Great Gatsby” is compelled to include the following ideals of wealth, popularity, and love which have long since been idolized by fiction for centuries as a sought and acclaimed standard to behold. Most follow under the belief that such a thing is almost unattainable to a common man but nevertheless they are forever seeking to fulfill their American Dream whether they are aware of that driving motivation or not.
To acquire a successful future through hard work, self-resolution, and initiative. The pursuit of happiness is a center point in the “Great Gatsby” as Fitzgerald explains the fascination Gatsby demonstrates towards Daisy in his determination to receive her love no matter how drastically long it may take. Overwhelmingly infatuated with his love for her, Gatsby however soon realizes that she has acquired higher priorities over the years as he describes, “Her voice is full of money,” he said suddenly. That was it. I’d never understood before. It was full of money—that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it” (Fitzgerald 120).
Although Gatsby did not mean this statement as an insult it might have appeared that way had he not once too chased after money in the effort to acquire Daisy’s love and attention. In the novel the “Great Gatsby”, there is a definite line drawn between the wealth of West Egg and East Egg as old money and new money are brought into silent opposition against each other. Most of the old money on the side of East Egg had obtained their wealth through generations of inheritance or beneficial marriages while many of the residents on the side of West Egg had been accused of receiving their new money under false pretenses. According to Bunce,”Gatsby does eventually become rich, but it is not the wealth Daisy is composed of. The only way to become a part of the magical world of old money was to marry in, and that was Gatsby’s plan. He was drawn to Daisy because she would help him to achieve what he could not do alone” (Bunce).
Social standing is not based on the price tag stuck to their houses or the amounts they have in their bank accounts but the way in which that money was obtained, may it be from inheritance or from building an empire from the ground up. “The roaring twenties, not far in the background are the Rosy Rosenthal, the Meyer Wolfsheim’s, the Walter Chases in violent pursuit of money and the good easy life”(Miller 84). Believed to be involved in illegal activities similar to that of Meyer Wolfsheim, Gatsby was once labeled a bootlegger, a spy, and a criminal by association and designation of living situation in West Egg. However, there was never much evidence of such criminal activities ever being sustainably linked to Gatsby until his death unearthed the telephone call confirming that the jig was up regarding the faulty bond statements. His so called friends became acquaintances and no more than a few were in accordance to his funeral.
As a dead rich man he was scarce of any true friends in East and West Egg exceeding his life span of plentiful parties and housed acquaintances. As Gatsby and Daisy become re-familiar with each other once again they recall upon past defining moments of their blossoming relationship and the events that followed Gatsby’s call to war. Coming to terms with the fact that she had abandoned pursuing a life with Gatsby out of his lack of wealth and influence, she is faced with the reality of her actions and tears up at the presence of the fruit of his fortune being his carefully linen and embroidered shirts, “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such beautiful shirts before” (Fitzgerald 92). The depth of her idealization of money has steadily come to the surface, making Gatsby more aware of the unrealistic expectations he has set forth in his chase for her recognition and love. Alike the popular expression “Money can’t buy you happiness”, Donaldson states in his Literary analysis of The Great Gatsby, “The Great Gatsby documents the truism that money can’t buy you love” (Donaldson 100).
Similar to how Gatsby’s vision of East Egg and West Egg has shifted throughout the novel there is a clear underlying impression of Fitzgerald’s negative change of thought towards the American Dream. Specific characters in the novel the “Great Gatsby” pinpoint exact personalities of individuals indulged with the ideals of the American Dream such as the Buchanans. Nick goes further into explaination of them, “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made” (Fitzgerald 179). They harnessed a distinct displeasure for anything not self-indulgent or all demanding of their destructive minds. The Buchanans were consumed with wealth although they were not very wealthy unlike how the American Dream sought them out to be.
Lena had analyzed how the “Buchanans represent the individuals who are unsuited to the labors of ordinary life” (Lena 98). The American Dream demands the consecutive hard work of all wishing to obtain wealth to be set as a first priority in their discovery of success. Although the American Dream once appeared as a captivating source of self fulfilment and accomplishment of someday transforming a regular individual into someone wealthy and wise, Fitzgerald’s view of such a dream transforms into something not so similar. Like Telgen once stated, “There are no spiritual values in a place where money reigns: the traditional ideas of God and Religion are dead here, and the American dream is direly corrupted” (Telgen). Over the years, the American Dream has never fully altered from its true ideals of wealth, popularity, and love.
These standards for the pursuit of happiness still stand true to the present day as Fitzgerald depicts the definition of the American Dream to be something not ever truly attainable. For with wealth even the richest man may be without companionship, for with popularity even the most liked man may still feel alone and for with love even in the strongest of relationships happiness may not always follow. Works Cited Alberto Lena, “Deceitful Traces of Power: An Analysis of the Decadence of Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby.” Canadian Review of American Studies 28.1 (1998): 19-42 Bunce, Selvi. “Love and money: An analysis of The Great Gatsby.
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2016. James E. Miller Jr., “Fitzgerald Gatsby: The World as Ash Heap.” The Twenties: Fiction, Poetry, Drama. Ed.
Warren French. Deland, Fl: Everett/Edwards, 1975. Reprinted with permission. Scott Donaldson, “Possessions in The Great Gatsby.” Southern Review 37 (2001):187-2102