Fantasy of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby

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In April of 1924, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the highly acclaimed novel The Great Gatsby; one year lan 1925, the novel was published. Publicized in the midst of the roaring twenties, this decade and or the Jazz Age was home to ample economic excess. In addition to the drastic increase in economic prosperity, the Jazz Age was an era in which jazz music and dancing rapidly obtained national prevalence. Aside from The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald published fourteen novels, emphasizing the excitement of the age.

The vast economic escalation in the United States allowed the principles of materialism and desire for success to emerge to the center of Americans’ mindsets. In addition, as a result to the overwhelming wealth in the 1920s, parties were a prominent characteristic to this decade. Within the narrative, the character Jay Gatsby portrays everything regarding the time period. The Great Gatsby is a portrayal of a man who reached quite far to acquire both the love of his live in Daisy, and to assimilate into an ideal social class.

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Collectively, Jay Gatsby’s desire and attempt to acquire the American Dream comes to a crashing failure his death. The imagery utilized by F. Scott Fitzgerald throughout the novel illustrates Gatsby’s ability to portray a facade in terms of his wealth and socioeconomic class, but also works to reveal the inability to attain the American Dream. At the dawn of the novel, Nick Carraway, the text’s narrator, recently moved into his modest West Egg cottage. With regard to Long Island, West Egg is generally viewed as the less upscale and more understated neighborhood of the two.

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However, Nick observes his neighbor, Gatsby, lives in “a colossal affair by any standard-it was a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, sparkling new […} a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. It was Gatsby’s mansion”(Fitzgerald 5). Nick’s first impression of Gatsby’s property reinforces the claim that Fitzgerald utilized imagery to illustrate Jay’s ability to portray a facade. According to this passage, Gatsby is significantly successful and wealthy, living in a state of perfection and contentment.

However, Gatsby manages to successfully create this false image, disguising the reality of his yearning for the socioeconomic status of East Egg and Daisy. As the novel progressed, the reader was exposed to frequent illustration of Gatsby’s extravagant jazz-themed parties, and consistent broadcasting of his extreme wealth. Toward the end of the novel, Nick describes Gatsby’s house in a drastically different manner, explaining, “His house had never seemed so enormous to me as it did that night […] we felt over innumerable feet of dark wall for electric light switches—once I tumbled with a sort of splash upon the keys of a ghostly piano. There was an inexplicable amount of dust everywhere, and the rooms were musty, as though they hadn’t been aired for many days.”(Fitzgerald 147-148). In chapter seven Tom revealed the reality of how Gatsby accumulated wealth; Daisy was horrified. Concerned later that night, Nick felt obligated to check on Gatsby in his mansion, and he depicts the property and mansion in a dramatically darker manner. After the disclosure of Gatsby’s secrets and Daisy’s realization, Nick’s description of Gatsby’s house contradicts Nick’s first impression of Gatsby’s life. The depiction of Gatsby’s mansion as ‘dusty’ and ‘enormous’ reinforces the idea that Gatsby was never meant to be incredibly wealthy, associated with old money and aristocracy, or with Daisy.

Additionally, the passage not only acknowledges the vastness of Gatsby’s mansion, but the emptiness of his life. In actuality, this passage reveals that the imagery used by F. Scott Fitzgerald to depict Gatsby’s estate illustrates the inability to attain the American Dream. Apart from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s use of imagery to convey the unattainability of the American Dream, the narrative point of view is also connected to the American Dream. The narrative structure of Fitzgerald’s novel works to contradict the vitality of the American Dream and provides insight that wealth and equality is not guaranteed for all Americans. After years of separation, Daisy and Gatsby were finally reunited through Nick. Following Gatsby’s recent interactions with Daisy, Nick acknowledged Gatsby yearned to recover an ideal image of himself in love with Daisy. Nick, aware of the improbability of Gatsby’s ambitions, told Gatsby, “ ‘You can’t repeat the past.’” “ ‘Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can!”(Fitzgerald 110).

Although Nick avoids addressing the impossibility of Gatsby’s ambitions in a straightforward manner, Gatsby is proven to be a very naive individual. Nick understands James Gatz is not destined to be in relationship with Daisy or to be associated with an aristocratic status. James Gatz cannot be accepted into the realm of old money, nor can Daisy join the realm of new money. However, he continues to believe he can replicate the past and acquire enough wealth to regain his relationship with Daisy. Closer to the end of the story, Gatsby proves to have maintained an endless amount of hope for achieving the American Dream. Even after Nick explains Gatsby appeared as if he had killed a man, and Daisy’s horrified reaction to discovering he is successful due to bootlegging, Gatsby later looks to Nick for reassurance, saying, “ ‘I suppose Daisy’ll call too.’ He looked at me anxiously, as if I’d corroborate this. ‘I suppose so’’. Although Nick is aware of the reality that daisy will never reach out to Gatsby, Nick is aware it would be detrimental to break the truth to him. Gatsby has spent years dedicating and devoting himself to having a life with Daisy, but after Gatsby’s death, Daisy does not send as little a gesture as flowers in memory of Jay Gatsby.

The narrative structure put into place by F. Scott Fitzgerald characterizes the American Dream as unattainable by highlighting Gatsby can never change socioeconomic status, and cannot replicate the past. The analysis of critics such as Bryan Mangum directly correlates with this analysis of the narrative structure in The Great Gatsby. Bryan Mangum rightfully claims that The Great Gatsby has a narrative structure that accommodates irreconcilable contradictions within the American Dream. In Mangum’s critique, he addresses Gatsby is naively under the impression he can have the embodiment of the American Dream. He continues his analysis, referencing the fact that Nick witnessed the corruption of America’s promise of equality for all through Gatsby’s life. Beyond the flaws of Gatsby and Nick’s awareness, Mangum states “Gatsby sprang from his Platonic conception of himself […] The ideal world, in Gatsby’s case, shatters in the face of a real one”(Mangum 3). This passage agrees with the previous analysis regarding narrative structure because it corresponds with Gatsby being naive and lacking awareness for reality. Gatsby viewed himself as a son of God, and as a result transformed both socioeconomically and egotistically. The ideal world in Gatsby’s imagination is shattered by the harsh reality of society. The destruction of Gatsby’s ideal world at the hands of society and is also mentioned in the text. Two pages into the novel, Nick states, “No–Gatsby turned out all right at the end ; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams”(Fitzgerald 2).

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Fantasy of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby. (2021, Oct 13). Retrieved from

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