The American Dream
What is the American Dream? Is it finding true love and exploring its forever amazing ways? Or is it being wealth, rich, and using money to explore all of the ideas that rich people have done in the past? The answer to these questions is in F. Scott Fitzgerald novel The Great Gatsby. The Great Gatsby describes it means to take part in the American Dream, and even though The Great Gatsby was written in 1925, the American Dream has remained the same throughout the past 90 years, with minimal changes. Even though the surface of the American dream has been changed throughout history, the core of the American dream, the wealth and doing what is pleasing with all that money, has not changed;but it is believed that The Great Gatsby shows that the American dream is more about being in love than having wealthy and leading a rich and sophisticated life. The American dream is all about having money and knowing how to use it, to create benefits. And along with all this wealth, it is not uncommon for all the people who have wealth to use their money, to do some illegal and corrupt stuff.
In the 1920s business and corruption went hand and hand back then. In the article “The Jazz Age” it says, “The 1920s saw the enshrinement of business at the religion of America, and at the same time saw some of the most pervasive business and governmental corruption the country had ever experienced” (Miller Jr. 82). Money and business is considered the “religion of America,” which is basically the American dream. Corruption is what made the business world work so well in the 1920s. Usually the people who are higher up in the world are more corrupt than the lower level players, like Meyer Wolfsheim in Gatsby.
In Gatsby’s description of Meyer Wolfsheim, Gatsby’s says “Meyer Wolfsheim? No, he’s a gambler.” Gatsby hesitated, then added coolly: “He’s the man who fixed the World’s Series back in 1919″(Fitzgerald 73). Gatsby, who is a higher up in the world, works with Wolfsheim, and Gatsby is also hinted as corrupt as well. So in Gatsby corruption of business and wealth and is all the rage, because it depicted as the American Dream. But isn’t Gatsby supposed to be the victim in this story? This maybe true, but it also may seem a little farfetched. As said in “The Jazz Age” article, “business ethic or gangster ethic for their own sordid advantage.
But Gatsby is as much victim as exploiter”(85). This quote explains in very simple words what business was like in the 1920s and 30s. It is a eat or be eaten world, and Gatsby is caught right in between the two. He is working devilishly with Wolfsheim, and it is implied that Gatsby gained his money illegally. But because of his corrupt ways and the corrupt people he was around, he ended up dying because of one lie told by a complete monster.
And that is the world everyone lives in, a world filled with psychotic people and monsters. Although the American dream is all about money, wealth and power, some believe that the Dream is all about love and being in love. And being in love is a great thing to have happen, but it is not the American dream, especially in Gatsby. Even when Gatsby shows Daisy his house, Nick describes Gatsby: “I went over to say good-by I saw that the expression of bewilderment had come back into Gatsby’s face, as though a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness. Almost five years! There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams”(Gatsby 95). Gatsby has been planning his meeting with Daisy for five years, planning to fall in love again for five years, and when he finally completes his plan, he feels disappointed and like he could never be complete or excited ever again.
He cannot be satisfied, and he does not feel the love that he thought he would feel for Daisy. Although it is not stated clearly, everyone knows that Gatsby is disappointed with his new life that he made. But other people believe that The Great Gatsby’s real love story is between a friendship, as stated in Matthew Bruccoli’s article, ” Though that’s the point:Nick has to expand the dimensions of the familiar and to mature emotional and material connections into compassion– and, finally, love. For the real love story lies in the friendship of Nick and Jay Gatsby.” In reality, the story is not about Gatsby and Daisy, but it is about the friendship of Gatsby and Nick. So this idea really skews the viewpoint that the American Dream is about being in love and not about having wealth and using it the way it is intended to be used.
Another quote that supports this idea is from the article that is written by Marius Bewley, it states “When, at the end, not even Gatsby can hide his recognition of the speciousness of his dreams any longer, the discovery is made in universalizing terms that dissolve Daisy into the larger world she has stood for in Gatsby’s imagination”(97). The key word in this quote is the word speciousness. Speciousness means appearing to be true but actually being false. So Gatsby recognized, thinking that his dream is true, that his dream of falling for Daisy has actually nothing special and turned out to be a bust. Now people think that love is just meant to be, it is fate, it is not chased after for five years, and it certainly should not have such a stalkerish feeling.
Gatsby fills this stalker roll in the book, because he is constantly doing all these things for Daisy, but he is probably considered more of a gentlemen’s stalker, because he does such extravagant things for his lady. When Gatsby is explaining his plan to Nick he says “When I said you were a friend of Tom’s, he started to abandon the whole idea. He doesn’t know very much about Tom, though he says he’s read a Chicago paper for years just on the chance of catching a glimpse of Daisy’s name”(79). This throws this huge stalker feeling out to the forefront. Although people may think that this is adorable and sweet that he is looking for Daisy, but in reality it is kind of creepy, because he has no idea how she feels about him, so doing all these things, should make people feel uncomfortable.
Love may be a beautiful thing but it is not what everyone is looking for, everyone really wants money. Fitzgerald did not really believe that the American Dream was the best thing for the people of the United States to follow. He thought that it should not be followed and that people should make their own dream, that it is why he scrutinized the Dream, throughout the entire book. This idea is defended in Kimberly Hearne’s article “Fitzgerald’s Rendering of a Dream.” In the article it says “Fitzgerald’s scrutiny of the American dream is sharp– and pointed directly at the heart of American ideology.
The dream is ambiguous, contradictory, romantic in nature, and undeniably beautiful while at the same time grotesquely flawed.” This means that the American dream is not perfect, and if it is not perfect, than the American dream is certainly not about love, but it is about money. And the money used in the book is made from people who are corrupt and people who make their money illegally and who do illegal things like Tom, Daisy, Gatsby, and Jordan Baker. It seems to be that the American dream is all about using money in more of a corrupt way than in a completely legal way. And the dream is not about falling in love because The Great Gatsby is not about a love story but it is more about a friendship between Nick and Gatsby. Even Fitzgerald himself believed that the people should not follow the American dream because of its “grotesquely flawed” way.
He believed that people should do their own thing and live their own dreams and not follow the real American dream. So the question what is the American dream? Has been answered and it is believed that money and corruption is the real American dream. Works Cited Bewley, Marius, “Scott Fitzgerald and the Collapse of the American Dream.” F. Scott Fitzgerald. Ed.
Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1985. 23-47. Print. Barbarese, J.
T. “The Great Gatsby and the American Dream.” F. Scott Fitzgerald. Ed. Matthew Bruccoli.
New York: Academic Search Premier. Web Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2004. Print.
Hearn, Kimberly. The Explicatior: Fitzgerald’s Rendering of a Dream. Mesa, Arizona: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. 2010. Print.
Miller, Jr. James E. “Fitzgerald’s Gatsby: The World as Ash Heap.” The Twenties:Fiction, Poetry, Drama. Ed, Warren French. Deland, FL: Everett/Edwards, 1975.