The Death of the American Dream-The Great Gatsby Essay

This essay has a total of 1090 words and 4 pages.

The Death of the American Dream-The Great Gatsby

Death of the American Dream
In Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, all the characters are, in one way or another,
attempting to achieve a state of happiness in their lives. The main characters are divided
into two groups: the rich upper class and the poorer lower class, which struggles to
attain a higher position. Though the major players seek only to change their lives for the
better, the idealism and spiritualism of the American Dream is eventually crushed beneath
the harsh reality of life, leaving their lives without any meaning or purpose.

Tom and Daisy Buchanan, the rich socialite couple, seem to have everything they could
possibly desire; however, though their lives are full of material possessions, they are
unsatisfied and seek to change their circumstances. Tom, the arrogant ex-football player,
drifts on "forever seeking a little wistfully for the dramatic turbulence of some
irrecoverable football game"(Fitzgerald pg. 10) and reads "deep books with long words in
them"(pg. 17) in order to have something to talk about. Though he appears happily married
to Daisy, Tom has an affair with Myrtle Wilson and keeps an apartment with her in New
York. Tom's basic nature of unrest prevents him from being satisfied with the life he
leads, and so he creates another life for himself with Myrtle. Daisy Buchanan is an empty
figure, a woman with neither strong desires nor convictions. Even before her loyalty to
either Tom or Gatsby is put to the test, Daisy does nothing but sit around all day and
wonder what to do with herself. She knows that Tom has a mistress on the side, yet
hesitates to leave him even when she learns of Gatsby's devotion to her. Daisy professes
her love to Gatsby, yet cannot bring herself to tell Tom goodbye except at Gatsby's
insistence. Even then, once Tom pleads with her to stay, Daisy quickly changes her mind
and ultimately leaves Gatsby for a life of comfort and security. The Buchanans are the
ultimate examples of wealth and prosperity, the embodiment of the rich life of the
American Dream, yet their lives are empty, unfulfilled, and without purpose.

Though Myrtle Wilson makes an attempt to escape her own class and pursue happiness with
the richer set, her efforts ultimately produce no results, and she dies, a victim of the
very group she sought to join. Myrtle tries to join Tom's class by entering into an affair
with him and taking on his way of living, but in doing so, she becomes vulgar and corrupt
like the rich. She loses all sense of morality and is scornful of people of her own class.
Her constant clothing changes signify her dissatisfaction with her life - she changes
personalities every time she changes her dress: "with the influence of the dress her whole
personality had also undergone a change. The intense vitality… was converted into
impressive hauteur"(pg. 35). She treats the elevator boy in her apartment building with
disdain: "Myrtle raised her eyebrows in despair at the shiftlessness of the lower orders.
'These people! You have to keep after them all the time.'"(pg. 36). It is evident that
although American democracy and principles are based on the concept of equality among
people, social discrimination does still exist, and the divisions between classes cannot
be overcome. Myrtle strives for a new life for herself, yet she is corrupted by the
supposedly 'better' group and finally falls victim to it.

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