The Failure Of The Great Gatsby English Literature Essay

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Tom and Daisy Buchanan, the rich couple, seem to have everything they could possibly want. Though their lives are full of anything you could imagine, they are unhappy and seek to change, Tom drifts on "forever seeking a little wistfully for the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game"(pg. 10) and reads "deep books with long words in them"(pg. 17) just so he has something to talk about. Even though Tom is married to Daisy he has an affair with Myrtle Wilson and has apartment with her in New York.. Daisy is an empty character, someone with hardly any convictions or desires. Even before her relationships with Tom or, Gatsby are seen, Daisy does nothing but sit around all day and wonder what to do with herself and her friend Jordan. She knows that Tom is having an affair, yet she doesn't leave him even when she hears about Gatsby loving her. Daisy lets Gatsby know that she too is in love with him but can't bring herself to tell Tom goodbye except when Gatsby forces her too. Even then, once Tom begs her to stay, even then Daisy forever leaves Gatsby for her old life of comfort. Daisy and Tom are perfect examples of wealth and prosperity, and the American Dream. Yet their lives are empty, and without purpose. 

Though Myrtle Wilson makes an attempt to escape her own class and pursue happiness with the rich, she ends up gaining nothing and eventually dies. She is basically a victim of the group she wanted to join. Myrtle tries to become like Tom by having an affair with him and taking on his way of living, but in doing so she becomes unsatisfied with her life. Her constant clothing changes show that she is unhappy with her life, she changes personalities every time she changes her dress: "with the influence of the dress her whole personality had also undergone a change. The intense vitality... was converted into impressive hauteur"(pg. 35). "Myrtle raised her eyebrows in despair at the shiftlessness of the lower orders. 'These people! You have to keep after them all the time.'"(pg. 36). . Myrtle try's to create a new life for herself but eventually falls victim to it while trying to be someone she wasn't. 

For the past five years, Gatsby sees Daisy as the perfect woman, someone that Daisy could be, "no amount of fire or freshness can challenge what man will store up in his ghostly heart"(pg. 101). Gatsby is disappointed that the woman he loves is not really who he wants her to be be. Gatsby wants a better life and he thinks he can do it if he puts his mind to it, which is also a of the American Dream. However, Gatsby's dream collapses when he fails to win Daisy and is not accepted by the upper class. All his money cannot help him when old man Wilson fires a gun at him. Gatsby sees himself as a failure when Daisy chooses Tom instead of him. The failure of Gatsby's hoped for life relates to the failure of the American Dream. Without his dream Gatsby has nothing, nothing to keep him going, no direction, and no purpose to live. 

Throughout the novel, Fitzgerald shows how dreams are destroyed, no matter what the dreams consist of, money, material status, or just simply to be happy. Fitzgerald also shows that the failure of the American Dream is unavoidable in a sense that nothing can be as perfect as one could imagine. Without hopes or dreams life would be empty, as shown by Tom and the Buchanan's. The American Dream is something every person works for throughout his or her life. Although the American Dream is admirable, it is impossible to achieve eternal satisfaction. The American Dream is just that, a dream. 


the most salient relates to the corruption of the American Dream.  The 

American Dream is that each person no matter who he or she is can become 

successful in life by his or her own hard work.  The dream also embodies 

the idea of a self-sufficient man, an entrepreneur making it successful for 

himself.  The Great Gatsby is about what happened to the American dream in 

the 1920s, a time period when the dream had been corrupted by the 

avaricious pursuit of wealth.  The American dream is sublime motivation for 

accomplishing ones goals and producing achievements, however when tainted 

with wealth the dream becomes devoid and hollow. 


      When the American dream was pure, motivation and ambition were some 

key aspects of the pure American dream.  "He stretched out his arms toward 

the dark water in a curious way...and distinguished nothing except a single 

green light."(page.26) This shows how Gatsby was striving for his goal 

and trying to accomplish it. When the dream was pure, motivation and 

self-discipline were present. This quote talks about Gatsby's daily agenda 

and how in the earlier days he upheld the pure American Dream "No wasting 

time at Shafter's, No more smoking or chewing, Read one improving book or 

magazine per week, Save $3.00 per week, Be better to parents" (page 181- 

182). Nick says "I became aware of the old island here that flowered once 

for Dutch sailors' eyes-a fresh green breast of the new world"(page 189). 

This quote shows the pristine goals of where the possibilities were endless 

and one could accomplish anything through hard work. 


      The American dream became corrupted; its main aims were wealth and 

power.  Gatsby became corrupted because his main goal was to have Daisy. 

The only reason he want Daisy was that she symbolized wealth and took on 

the characteristics of money. "Her voice is full of money"(page127) .

Gatsby needed to have an enormous mansion so he could feel confident enough 

to try to win Daisy. "That huge place over there? Do you like it?  I love 

it" (page95).   The tainted dream was so empty that having accouterments of 

wealth could even incite feelings of love. "He's the man who fixed the 

World Series back in 1919" ( page 78). The dream became so focused on 

money that any means of a obtaining it were condoned, even if it were 



      Result of American dream being corrupted is that the motivation and 

ambition were gone and the dream is left with the pursuit of an empty goal. 

This is displayed when Daisy says "Do you always watch for the longest day 

of the year and then miss it?  I always watch for the longest day of the 

year and miss it." This quote shows the lack of motivation and meaningless 

to which the empty rich society has turned to.  Another result of this 

corrupted dream is that the dearth of the idea that each person no matter 

who he or she is can become successful in life by his or her own hard work. 

This ignorance is shone when Tom says "The idea is if we don't look out the 

white race will be utterly submerged. It's all scientific stuff;   it's 

been proved" (page 17). 


 Ignorance and the ideal of looking out for oneself is prevalent.  Whereas,

in the pure American Dream, striving to accomplish ones' own personal goal 

is ones main focus. 


      One should use the American Dream for motivation and hope that one 

can achieve ones personal goal.  The American Dream should not be centered 

on money and other materialistic things but on a real goal.