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The American Dream, Corrupted

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 873 words Published: 18th Apr 2017

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The ideal of the American Dream has been around for as long as American Literature itself has been. The idea that an individual can come to this land from anywhere in the world with nothing but his or her name and the clothes on their back can over the course of time become successful and wealthy through hard work and determination. In Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby is a typical rags to riches man that finds out the hard way that money and materialistic things cannot fill an individual’s need for happiness. Fitzgerald portrays the corruption of an individual’s American Dream through their foolish pursuit of wealth and materialistic belongings.

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Gatsby’s American Dream is not your typical wanting of wealth and success as so many others are instead it is a dream of reclaiming a lost love. Gatsby surrounded himself in lavish parties and so called friends who took advantage of his wealth and status. He did all this not for himself but for a foolish lost love that he had for Daisy. Gatsby did not gain his wealth through honest means but through shady backdoor deals that he made with just as shady individuals. Through all of this though he still managed to be a good person at heart as can be seen by the last time Nick sees Gatsby alive, he tells him, “They’re a rotten crowd…. You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together” (Fitzgerald 162).

Daisy was Gatsby’s Holy Grail she was everything that he wanted all that he did was for her. Unfortunately for Gatsby Daisy represented much more than just his dream girl, she also represented the corruption that is present in having all the wealth and materialistic things that someone could want. Daisy was aware of her charm and she used it to the best of her ability to secure her lifestyle.(Dawson) “Her voice was “full of money-that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song in it” (Fitzgerald 127). Daisy was a very cold person lacking any compassion for others just as cold hard cash lacks the same. Despite all of this Gatsby will not let her go even though she is married to another man. Letting Daisy go would mean letting go of his dream and letting go of his dream would mean his whole life would have been wasted in his eyes. Furthering the case for Daisy’s coldness of heart and selfishness is the event of Myrtle’s death when daisy hits her with Gatsby’s car. She was willing to go so far as to let Gatsby take the blame for manslaughter. Just to add to this insult when Daisy finds out about Gatsby’s shady business dealings she immediately runs back to her cheating corrupted husband. Still Gatsby wouldn’t give up on her all the way up to the point when he was shot and killed in his swimming pool.

Tom and Daisy’s marriage is also very telling of the corruption of the American Dream. Even though they have everything that they could possibly want they are still unhappy. They keep searching for something more in different places they have traveled to France and drifted “here and there unrestfully wherever people were rich and played polo together”.(Fitzgerald 11) Tom seemed very bored with his own life and missed his old college football days with all the excitement and praise. Tom coped with this boredom in his own way which was to cheat on Daisy with Myrtle. Tom is lost to his above average life because of his obsessive behavior towards always having more than anyone else. (Dawson) Tom was described as someone who was so successful so young that anything else that he did throughout his life would just not measure up.

After Myrtle and Gatsby’s death the two once again show their selfishness and coldness by not seeming remorseful at all they did not even attend either funeral. In fact the two actually go on a vacation during this time. “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). This shows the numbing of emotions that wealth can have on people and the corruption that ensues. This corruption from wealth makes these two stick together but tears apart the lives of people around them. When Daisy and Tom come together, nothing but destruction is left behind. (Dawson) The only two people that show up to Gatsby’s funeral is Gatsby’s father and nick his only real friend.

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It would seem that Nick is the only one not corrupted in the story. His notion of the American Dream was that of family and home. Nick was the opposite of Gatsby in their visions of the American Dream although that was not always the case seeing as though they both came from similar backgrounds. Nick moves to the east after the First World War and soon finds that the people there are heartless and cruel. Nick is also a good picture of what Gatsby could have been had he not been corrupted by his unending love for Daisy. The Great Gatsby is a perfect illustration of the corruptive nature of money on individuals American Dream.


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