The Corruption of the American Dream in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby Essay

:: 3 Works Cited
Length: 1348 words (3.9 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Purple      
Open Document

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Francis Scott Fitzgerald portrays the American Dream, originally a set of goals that included freedom, settlement, and an honest life with the possibility of upward social and economic mobility earned through hard work, as corrupted and debased by the egotistic materialism of the 1920s, an era which Fitzgerald characterizes chiefly by its greed and lavish hedonism, in his celebrated novel The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald, in The Great Gatsby, seeks to discredit the supposed purity of the American Dream and belief that anyone can attain it through hard work. Instead, he argues that the dream is a mere delusion, altered so significantly from its original form that its pursuers aspire for and achieve nothing more than the hoarding of hollow material goods and empty pleasure. Fitzgerald criticizes the American Dream through his characterizations of Myrtle Wilson, Tom Buchanan, Jay Gatsby, and the people who attend Gatsby’s extravagant parties uninvited.
A minor character in The Great Gatsby, Myrtle Wilson, who lives in the Valley of Ashes with her poor husband George Wilson, represents the degeneration of the once valued American ideals of hard work and honesty as Myrtle attempts to rise on the social scale by becoming the mistress of the wealthy Tom Buchanan. She embodies lucidly the loose morals and hedonism of the 1920s, for, when Tom visits, Myrtle, in front of her husband, walks up to Tom, “[looks] him flush in the eye, [wets] her lips,” and attempts to act as sensuous as possible so as to attract his favor and interest (Fitzgerald 30). Furthermore, she frequently lies to her husband, telling him that she plans to visit her sister when really, she leaves her home in order to engage in sexual intercourse with Tom, who lures Myrtle w...

... middle of paper ...

...ald asserts that the 1920s, an era of avarice, has corrupted the American Dream, its ideal of hard work, and Americans.
In conclusion, through his portrayal of Myrtle Wilson, Tom Buchanan, Jay Gatsby, and the partygoers, Fitzgerald illustrates that the American Dream is a mere illusion, corrupted so significantly by the people of the 1920s that it is hardly recognizable. He reveals the shallowness the American Dream— how under its glittering, golden surface, is greed and deception.

Works Cited

Fitzgerald, F. Scott, and Matthew J. Bruccoli. The Great Gatsby. New York, NY: Scribner, 1996. Print.
Smiljanić, Siniša. "The American Dream in the Great Gatsby." The American Dream in The Great Gatsby. N.p., Apr. 2011. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.
"The Great Gatsby: Awakening from the American Dream." Dwelling in the Text. University of California Press, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.

Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

This essay is 100% guaranteed.

Title Length Color Rating  
The Fallacy of the American Dream in Fitzgerald’s "The Great Gatsby" Essay - The Roaring Twenties, The Jazz Age; these were just some of the names for the 1920s. However, all those fancy names do not actually describe the essential motivations of the people in the 1920s. In actuality, the 1920s were an age of conformity, false aspirations due to the American dream, and the obsession with social class statuses. What is the American dream. The simplest version of the American dream is a nice house and family, with the white picket fence in the front yard. For many families this dream came true, but for others, it was not quite possible to achieve....   [tags: American Dream, 1920's, USA, history, Fitzgerald, ] 769 words
(2.2 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
The American Dream in The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald Essay - The early 1920’s were a time when the economy began to soar, and the notion of the American dream began to take effect. The American Dream is the idea that anyone can come from any background and no matter who they are, if they work hard and stay true to themselves, they can achieve their dreams. The Great Gatsby, set in the early twenties, displays that socio-economic power is obtained through inheritance, forming an aristocracy of power and wealth. The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, demonstrates how geography and location dictate where the social-class level of an individual exists permanently in society....   [tags: Essays on the American Dream] 1143 words
(3.3 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
The American Dream in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby Essay - The American Dream in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby The 1920's were a time of parties, drinking and having nothing but fun. Many aspired to be rich and prosperous and longed to be a part of the upper class. Although this was the dream for many Americans of this time, it seemed almost impossible to become a part of this social class unless born into it. Even those who worked hard to become successful and support themselves and their families were not accepted into this elite group of men and women, despite the fact that they too most likely had everything....   [tags: Great Gatsby Fitzgerald] 1189 words
(3.4 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
The Destruction of the American Dream in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby Essay - In The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the main theme is most directly related to the American Dream. The American Dream is based on the idea that any person, no matter who they are, can become successful in life by working hard. The Great Gatsby is about what happened to the American Dream during the 1920's, an era when the dream had been corrupted by the relentless pursuit of wealth. The pursuit of the American Dream is the ultimate cause of the downfall of the main character, Jay Gatsby....   [tags: Papers Essays Gatsby Fitzgerald]
:: 4 Works Cited
1801 words
(5.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Fitzgerald's Exploration of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby Essay - Fitzgerald's Exploration of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, is a one of the best stories written during a chaotic period in our nation’s history, The Jazz Age. The Twenties were a time of social experiments, self-indulgence, and dissatisfaction for majority of Americans. Fitzgerald depicts all these characteristics throughout the novel with his interesting themes, settings, and characters. The most elaborate and symbolic character Fitzgerald presents to his readers is Jay Gatsby....   [tags: The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald Essays] 705 words
(2 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay about The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald Although to the casual reader The Great Gatsby may only appear as a poetic muse on the seemingly endless rollercoaster that is love, if one plunges deeper into this novel it is easily discovered that not only is this the quintessential grail quest but it is quite plainly a search for the American dream. Gatsby plays a duel role in this piece of American history; he is both the Holy Crusader, seeking his own personal Cup of Christ, and the Cinderella story of Fitzgerald's masterpiece....   [tags: Great Gatsby Fitzgerald American Dream] 1197 words
(3.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald Essay - The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald Thesis: The pursuit of the American Dream is a dominant theme throughout The Great Gatsby, which is carried out in various ways by F. Scott Fitzgerald, how the author represents this theme through his characters and their actions is one small aspect of it.       Fitzgerald's dominant theme in The Great Gatsby focuses on the corruption of the American Dream. By analyzing high society during the 1920s through the eyes of narrator Nick Carraway, the author reveals that the American Dream has transformed from a pure ideal of security into a convoluted scheme of materialistic power....   [tags: Great Gatsby Fitzgerald American Dream Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
1804 words
(5.2 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
The American Dream in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby Essay examples - The American Dream in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a brilliant illustration of life among the new rich during the 1920s, people who had recently amassed a great deal of wealth but had no corresponding social connections. The novel is an intriguing account about love, money and life during the 1920s in New York. It illustrates the society and the associated beliefs, values and dreams of the American population at that time. These beliefs, values and dreams can be summed up to what is termed the 'American Dream'; a dream of money, wealth, prosperity, and the happiness that supposedly came with the booming economy and the get-rich-quick s...   [tags: F. Scott Fitzgerald Great Gatsby]
:: 1 Works Cited
1145 words
(3.3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on The American Dream in The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald - The American Dream in The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald The American Dream is the fantasy of complete independence and self-reliance mixed with the opportunity to attain wealth through one's labours. On the surface, this dream seems almost enchanted, offering people the unique prospect of achieving success regardless of one's race, religion or family history. "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald is an immortal illustration of the American Dream. Fitzgerald analyses the 1920s and expresses ideas of the American Dream being distorted from a pure ideal of security into an idea of materialistic power....   [tags: Papers] 1081 words
(3.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
American Dream in The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald Essay - Essential Question: What is the American Dream. America is the land with the most dreamers. America is the land of opportunity and equality. In America your dreams can be fulfilled if you work hard to achieve your goals. The American dream to most is, to be wealthy and to be able to afford anything. Wealth is a plus in life because you can afford expensive items that do not necessarily have a use, but it does not necessarily matter how hard you try or how much you spend you can not buy happiness....   [tags: essays research papers] 913 words
(2.6 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]