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The Roaring Twenties was a time of great prosperity. The era was further distinguished by several inventions and discoveries of far-reaching importance, unprecedented industrial growth, extensive aspirations, and significant changes in lifestyle. The promise of the American Dream was coming alive for people in the United States. At the same time, Prohibition, the ban on the sale and manufacture of alcohol, made millionaires out of bootleggers and led to an increase in organized crime. F. Scott Fitzgerald, a struggling author finally found his wealth during the '20s. Fitzgerald's' most accomplished literature was The Great Gatsby. The Great Gatsby (TGG) described American society during unprecedented levels of prosperity as the economy soared. Fitzgerald portrayed these aspects of the twenties and himself in various characters. The characters in TGG had only one goal, the American Dream. Each character had a vice which never brought them happiness but only disparity. The American Dream is a consistent theme throughout The Great Gatsby despite their dreams never being fulfilled.
Gatsby based his whole identity on how much money he earned and the possessions he had. Gatsby's sole purpose for acquiring wealth was to win back Daisy. When Gatsby first met Daisy, he was considered unworthy because of his lower class status. He knew that while he was poor there was no chance ever being able to get Daisy. Gatsby knew the only way to get Daisy back was to achieve what was considered the "American Dream." Gatsby achieves "The American Dream", but his faith in corrupt money and power made his dreams worthless. Gatsby earned his wealth through bootlegging and other mob activities, which he kept secret. His corrupt path to money was the opposite of the American Dream, which tells that only the good, virtuous and the hard working are rewarded. Gatsby threw extravagant parties, bought expensive things, and most importantly cherished is wealthy life. "The rich get richer and the poor get-children." (Fitzgerald 96). Gatsby tries to replace Daisy and the lack of a family with his wealth. He is so blinded by his wealth that he does not see that money cannot buy love or happiness. Gatsby would never let go of the fact that Daisy was there for the money and not his love. Fitzgerald shows how ones dream can became corrupted by the conquest of wealth, power, and expensive thing by any means.
Tom Buchanan is another character who also believes he deserves more power and wealth. Tom is already powerful, rich, and has a beautiful wife, whom Gatsby envies. Tom is never fully satisfied with that. Tom is arrogant, hypocritical, and has no morals. Tom Buchanan also striving for The American Dream believes he deserves more then he already has. Tom's quest for power challenges to ruin his marriage although it never did. He thinks that he gets more power because of his mistress Myrtle. Because Myrtle is of a lower class he has complete power over her. Myrtle depends on Tom to get her into a better society so she herself can achieve The American Dream. Although when Tom begins to suspect Daisy and Gatsby of having an affair, he becomes outraged. Tom's husband, Daisy is no better, as she crazes attention and wealth. She manipulates others into buying into her needs and then leaves them. "They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made"(Fitzgerald 188). Nick perceives Tom and Daisy as they really are, heartless and careless. After Myrtle and Gatsby are both killed, neither one of the Buchanan's sends their regards or seem remorseful. In fact, they go on a short vacation, which is an indication of the lack of compassion they have toward others. Tom's wealth distances him from his morals, family and achieving the American Dream.
Nick is a different from the rest; he is the only person in the book who sees the reality of the world. After the war, Nick decides to move east and rents a house in East Egg, Long Island. Nick comes to study the bond market to achieve his own American Dream. Surprisingly he never accomplishes his dream. Although Nick is the only one in the book that remains happy
Nick slowly learns he is not like the others; selfish, dishonest, and arrogant.
Gatsby best demonstrates The American Dream because he has a true meaning and works in order to raise his status. He has a dream, a desire, to get the girl he loves, which motivates Gatsby. But Gatsby also represents the failures of The American Dream because he does not succeed getting his dream, Daisy. As every character in The Great Gatsby attempts to achieve the American Dream none ever succeed. Fitzgerald purposely did this to show the flaws of the wealthy. Fitzgerald wrote about the corruption, greed, and power hungry individuals of the socially elite and wealth, even with all the money in the world they weren't the unhappiest.