The American Dream has altered over the years and is distinctive to each person
The American Dream has altered over the years and is distinctive to each person, but always was a variation of the idea that one could come to the US, will make it, and become successful. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway moves to the East where he befriends a great cast of characters, including Jay Gatsby, Nick’s affluent and enigmatic neighbor. Through Gatsby’s goal for wealth and power to find happiness and resolution in life which induces his downfall, Fitzgerald presents the idealism of the American dream , and how it ultimately leads to further emphasis of materialistic objects and the corruption of moral values since it is essentially an unattainable illusion.
As a result of trying to attain status and wealth, the value of things and excess money increases, which encapsulates the emptiness of the wealthy upper class. When Gatsby shows Daisy his huge mansion, Nick observes that Gatsby “-hadn’t once ceased looking at Daisy, and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well loved. Sometimes, too, he stared around at his possessions in a dazed way, as though in her actual and astounding presence none of it was any longer real.” (Fitzgerald 91). Gatsby does not value the possessions he has as much as he values Daisy, who is his American dream. Gatsby’s goal in life is to reignite the relationship he had with Daisy five years prior to when they finally reunite. In order to do this, he amassed wealth to reach her economic level. He thinks that by becoming rich, having fancy shirts and expensive objects, he would be able to win her back. Even though he has all this money, he does not fit into the wealthy upper class of the Buchanans or of Jordan Baker.
Corruption of moral values and human nature is inevitable when dreams are based off money and power. Gatsby seemingly achieves the American dream of the 1920s: he was born into a poor family and becomes a wealthy man with status, has a huge mansion where he throws lavish parties every weekend, and an abundance of valued material things. When he and Nick discuss the origin of his wealth, Nick states” I thought you inherited your money,” and Gatsby tells Nick, ” I’ve been in several things,’ … ‘I was in the drug business and then I was in the oil business. But I’m not in either one now.” (Fitzgerald 90). Gatsby is lying to Nick, and is not doing a very great job at it either. Although Gatsby is rich, his wealth was obtained illegally, and he constantly lies to everybody else. His deceiving to everyone demonstrates how people believed that in order to achieve their goals, they must live a specific lifestyle, that of a wealthy upper class person. People like Gatsby go to great lengths to bring about their desires, to the point where they become liars and cheaters, and morality is forgotten.
The American dream is illusory, so it never will satisfy as it will always be out of reach to anybody who attempts to achieve it. On Nick’s last night in the East, he thinks of “Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, … Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes us.” (Fitzgerald 180). The symbol of the green light at the end of the dock at Daisy’s house in the East Egg that Gatsby is always looking a from his house in the West Egg that is barely visible. Gatsby’s dream of being rich and marrying Daisy symbolizes a larger American dream where everybody has the opportunity to do whatever they want, whenever they want to. The problem is that “he did not know that it was already behind him”, that his goal was impossible. The green light was a way for Gatsby to reaffirm to himself that his dream was possible. He “believed in the green light”, just like many people do, but no matter how much somebody chases the green light, it will always be unattainable.
The idea of the American dream is that anybody, no matter their background, can create a better life for themselves. It is this hope that drives many people to go to great lengths to have it, though few actually do. It causes corruption in people, as even though people, like Gatsby, may achieve it, it can never make one truly happy and they lose more tha
n they gain.