Examination of "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby: American Dream
By: Kayla Meyers

was founded on dreams. Since the beginning of this country, people have

 been coming here for the purpose of bringing their goals and ambitions to fruition. The

 American Dream is different for everyone; for the immigrant, it is the goal of creating a

 life for themselves and their families as American citizens, for the middle-class

 American it is an ideal of the perfect family, for the wealthy it is acquiring even

more riches and the frivolous material things that come along with money. The Great

Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald explores the many different paths that people take in

 pursuit of the American Dream, whatever it means to them, and the various outcomes of

 each of their journeys. In his work, The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald depicts one

 man’s journey in pursuit of the American dream, and shows that while our aspirations

can inspire great things, they can also lead to our downfall.

None of Fitzgerald’s characters illustrate this idea more than the book’s main

character, Jay Gatsby. Gatsby grew up in a poor family in North Dakota until he left

home at age sixteen. He always dreamed of becoming wealthy, but the true catalyst for

motivating him to do the things he did in order to achieve his goals of money was Daisy

Buchanan. Gatsby met daisy as a young solider in Louisville before he was sent to fight

in World War I. Daisy promised him she would wait for him, but later, when Gatsby

returned from the war, he discovered she had married Tom Buchanan, and that is when

he began his quest to win her back. He changed his name from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby,

made his fortune by bootlegging and other illegal endeavors, the finally buying his lavish,

gaudy mansion in West Egg, New York, right across the lake from Daisy’s home in East

Egg. In the book, Fitzgerald describes a green light at the end of the dock that he sees

Gatsby reaching for, saying, “But I didn’t call to him for he gave a sudden intimation that

 he was content to be alone – he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious

 way, and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily, I

glanced seaward – and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far

 away, that might have been the end of the dock” (Chapter 1 : Pages 25-26). Gatsby

 waited several years before Nick Carraway came along and provided him with an

 opportunity to finally win Daisy back.

Once he reconnects with Daisy, Gatsby begins to realize that "he had committed

 himself to the following of a grail" and that the dream he thought was so close to being

 accomplished when he bought his mansion near Daisy, is actually already gone.

 Fitzgerald reiterates this at the end of the book when Nick goes back to West Egg after

Gatsby’s death, as Nick is looking at Gatsby’s empty mansion he realizes, “Gatsby

 believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us.  It

 eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run fast, stretch out our arms

 farther… And one fine morning—“. (Chapter 9: Page 189)  He held on to his purpose to

 get Daisy back, even though in the end it was that very dream that ended up killing him.

While Gatsby’s hope of wealth along with winning Daisy’s heart is the most

 prevalent example of the American Dream in “The Great Gatsby”, but it is not the only

 one. All of his characters had some kind of dream in the course of their lives, even the

 book’s narrator, Nick Carraway. After the war, Nick says that he “came back restless”

 and so left his home and moved to West Egg in search of a more exciting life. Nick’s

 main focus was not on money, but it was certainly part of his ambitions. He graduated

 from New Haven, then after the war he decided to go east to learn the bonds business.

 His dream was to fit into Gatsby’s world – the world of money, extravagant parties, and

 fancy cars – although he never really achieved it. He was fascinated by Gatsby because

 of Gatsby’s lifestyle that Nick always wanted to be a part of, but he was never was able

 to fully understand it. He spends most of the book alternately enchanted and disgusted by

 the things going on at Gatsby’s parties and West Egg in general with all its gossip and

 slander, and he is always trying to understand not only Gatsby, but everyone in Gatsby’s


A big part of Gatsby’s world is Daisy Buchanan. She is the person who is at the

 center of Gatsby’s story as she is his greatest desire, but there is evidence that she has

 her own ambitions as well. Daisy’s dreams are not as lofty as Nick’s or Gatsby’s, her

 main goal is not to become wealthy by working for it herself, but rather to obtain it by

 marrying into it. It is suggested throughout the book that Daisy married her husband,

 Tom Buchanan, only for his money, as she is described as always having a lust for

 extravagant things and, as Gatsby says to Nick on page 127, “Her voice is full of

 money”. By the end of the book it becomes apparent that Daisy cannot leave Tom

 because of the life he has built for her and the things he has given her. She feels secure

 with Tom, and she is not willing to give that up, even for her true love.

Tom Buchanan is the antagonist of the story, not only for Gatsby, but for Daisy

 and Nick as well. Tom is extremely selfish and arrogant, he wants the finest of

 everything; the best car, the biggest mansion, the perfect wife and a mistress as well, and

 he’s willing to do anything he can to get it, even if it means cheating on his wife and

 flaunting it all over town. He feels extremely threatened by Gatsby, because he can see

 that Daisy truly loves him, and that because of Gatsby, everything Tom wants and has

 worked for begins to slip through his fingers. His vision of the perfect life diminishes as

 soon as Gatsby reenters Daisy’s life.

In the end, none of the characters’ dreams truly come true; although Daisy and

 Tom remain married their relationship completely falls apart, Nick ends up all alone, and

 Gatsby loses his life. They all made sacrifices in order to follow their dreams, and they

 paid an extremely high price for it. While this is the overriding message, Fitzgerald

 closes on a note of hopefulness for the future as Nick stands on the beach and says,

 “Gradually, I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’

 eyes – a fresh, green breast of the new world… had once pandered in whispers to the last

 and greatest of all human dreams.” (Page 189)


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There is a balance of life; for every positive there will be a negative, and with every negative soon will come a positive. If you hold on long enough through all the bad, you'll be able to find something wonderful and cherish it all that much more.
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A paper I wrote for my Junior English class. Each student was asked to chose one theme in the book "The Great Gatsby", come up with a theme statement and write a final essay. Possibly the most hated and difficult piece of writing I've ever had to do; I detested that book and couldn't have cared less. Yet, I still managed to squeak by with an A.
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