Great Gatsby: Fitzgerald’s critique of The American Dream The American Dream was born in Colonial times and evolved in the nineteenth century. It was founded on the belief that every person could achieve success in life solely on his or her own effort and skill. The ideal of the self-made person was the embodiment of the dream, as was his grandfather, P. F. McQuillan. Fitzgerald’s novel is a worthy addition to the list of novels that have provided insights into the American dream, but the novel’s artistic form has not been affected.
Fitzgerald’s criticism of America’s dream is embodied in The Great Gatsby. The Great Gatsby is a radical critique of America and its experience. The novel’s theme is the demise of the American dream in the 1920s. This was a time when material happiness and the vulgar pursuit of it has destroyed the values that were the foundation of the dream. These characters are Midwesterners who moved East to pursue a new dream of fame, money, success, glamour and excitement. Tom and Daisy will need a large house, a stable full of polo ponies and friends in Europe.
Before Gatsby can be confident enough to win Daisy, he must first have his huge mansion. Fitzgerald doesn’t criticize the American dream, but rather the corruption of it. Nick Carraway describes “what was once for Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin as a belief system of self-reliance, hard work, and hard work” The service of a vulgar, simple, and naive beauty. “The pursuit of noble goals is no longer a source of energy. It has been diverted into power and pleasure. This is a very showy but ultimately empty form of success.
Fitzgerald’s criticism of the American dream is expressed through certain dominant images or symbols. Fitzgerald uses the symbol of money and hope as the symbol for jealousy, while using the green light to symbolize envy, money, or hope. Hope is the center of the dream. But jealousy and the lure of money can contaminate it. Gatsby, a noble man, is blinded by his dream. He remains “wonderful” at Daisy’s presence through the novel. He cannot see Daisy’s carelessness and self-centeredness, which “foul dust” makes him blind. Fitzgerald uses both the East and Midwest contrasts to form his critique.
The East is the location where corruption of the American dream took place. Nick finally decides to return West at the end. Nick discovers that this is not the right place for him. Scott F. Fitzgerald, in his novel The Great Gatsby, makes some of the harshest criticisms of America’s dream. This dream has been destroyed by material success and has become polluted. Fitzgerald is able to see the flaws in the American vision. Fitzgerald shows us that fulfilling the American dream completely and faithfully is the key to happiness in life.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Critique of The American Dream in The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is a social history of America during the twenties that focuses on the unflattering portrayal of those at the top and the appalling examinations of how the American Dream fails to live up to its promise. Fitzgerald creates an environment in which wealth is central to everyone’s hopes and dreams. The artificial world of The Great Gatsby shows a striking contrast between the East and West. The tragedy of destruction, dishonesty and fear is caused by the materialism of East. In such an environment, there are no moral values. Fitzgerald’s novel portrays the loss of innocence and the demise of true love in the face of capitalism and materialism. This is illustrated through the characters’ relationships. This theory of decomposition is evident in the relationships between Tom, Daisy, Tom, Myrtle and Nick.
The insecure relationship between Daisy and Tom is a good example of how wealth can override love in this story. Daisy, the southern belle and the airheaded stereotype, makes a perfect couple. Tom, however, is a stereotypical brute jock. They share their affections with others, which makes it clear that they don’t really love each other. The question of why they remain together should be asked. Nick Carraway, the narrator of the story, asks why Tom and Daisy are still together. He says that they “retreated into their money, their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept their together” (136). What other explanation could there be for Daisy’s relationship with Tom Buchanan than the social expectations and limitations of the time? Gatsby is stuck in the social group of “new money” (122), and Daisy leaves him because Daisy longs for the luxurious lifestyle that Tom offers. Daisy’s materialistic possessions are a way to compensate for her insecurity. Nick claims that the couple drifted “here and there unrestfully wherever people played pogo and were rich together.” (17). This is a subtle testimony to the lack intimacy and the high level of corruption and unhappy relationships.
Myrtle Wilson and Tom Buchanan’s relationship also portrays a corrupted relationship. Tom claims that he sometimes goes on a reckless errand and makes a fool of himself, but he always comes back and loves her with all his heart” (156). Even though Tom and Daisy are married, it is a simple exchange for Daisy’s youth, beauty, social status, and youth. Tom uses his social status and money to have affairs with working class women like Myrtle Wilson who are just property. You can understand his views on human interaction and the extramarital affairs he had with Myrtle Wilson. In this case, the idea that a person’s worth is determined by his possessions comes into play. Myrtle Wilson was, on the other hand, a taste of the aristocratic champagne. Myrtle sought Tom as a symbol of power and wealth. Myrtle even flirts in front of George Wilson with Tom. She “smiled slowly and, moving through her husband as though he were ghostly, shook hands, looking him flush in his eyes, and walked slowly” (26). These characters destroy the marriage integrity by ruining Daisy and George Wilson’s relationships. These adulterous acts reflect a desperate need for wealth, class, and self-worth. The growing social idea of materialism leads to multiple instances of infidelity that threaten the integrity of marriage.
Nick Carraway’s internal struggle is a prime example for the decline of innocence that has been influenced by new social standards. He initially has mixed feelings about his East Coast move, where people lack integrity and morale that those in his home region of the midwest. Nick Carraway is an emotionally strong character. His defining characteristics include honesty, good judgment, and innocence from the midwest. Carraway states that he is “one the few honest people [he] has ever met” (59). Carraway judges people who are corrupted by wealth and power. He says that Tom, Daisy, and Jordan Baker are “careless people” (145). His character develops over the course of the novel into a more East Coast persona. Because of his past experiences with affairs, partying, corruption, and dishonesty, he loses his innocence and is less socially naive. He becomes a copy of the others through his interactions with them. Carraway later resolves the conflict by moving west. According to Carraway, he felt that the world should be uniformed and subject to moral attention ever since he returned from East last autumn. He also stated that he wanted no more wild excursions that gave him privileged insights into the human heart. His exposure to corruption and his interactions with the people around him led to his change of heart and loss in innocence.
Fitzgerald’s novel portrays the loss of innocence and the discovery of true love in the era of capitalism and materialism. Love becomes just another ring on the finger in a relationship that is built on wealth and power. Fitzgerald makes a moral observation about what the East and West have in common. The Midwest’s new arrival Nick Carraway is fair and innocent. Daisy Buchanan and the East’s natives Tom and Daisy Buchanan are corrupt, unfair, and materialistic. The only stimuli for the American Dream are capitalism and materialism. This is why it has failed. These social changes make the world artificial and cause love and innocence to be endangered.