Despite the fact that the American dream that is based on pursuit of happiness does not always justify its promises, it has been the main subject of many American novels for a long time. American dream has always been the only way out for the majority of people who wanted to escape from dark, roaring, mournful, and pressing realities. The given paper aims to shed light on the portrayal of the American dream on the basis on the novel The Great Gatsby by F. S. Fitzgerald.
It may seem at the first glance that The Great Gatsby is a marvelous story about thwarted and compassionate love between two people. However, the main theme of this incredible novel is more complex and is characterized by less romantic scope. The Great Gatsby describes, evaluates, glorifies, and, at the same time, condemns the American dream and its unquestioning popularity in the era of material wealth, class inequality, unprecedented prosperity, and hollowness of upper classes that are vulgar, low-minded, and ostentatious. It is very important to note that Fitzgerald showcases the American dream in different ways, neither negatively nor positively. At the same time, Scott Fitzgerald has said much about the essence and nature of the American dream within the economical pages of his masterpiece. American dream in Fitzgerald’s novel is viewed as a failure and promise (Fitzgerald, 2013).
Taking into account the concept of promise, American dream may be understood as a pledge of equal rights, liberty, limitless opportunities, success, and happiness. Likewise, American dream may be assessed by people as a broken promise or failure to overcome barriers and pursue happiness as the basic human right. In other words, Fitzgerald’s masterpiece proves that American dream is a “soup bubble” that is connected with the chase for money, social status, recognition of other members of society, hollowness, and, finally, decayed social as well as moral values. This novel tries to convince its readers that American dream and American reality are absolutely different notions (Fitzgerald, 2013).
In spite of the fact that the 1920s that are commonly referred to as Roaring Twentieth were the times of enormous opportunities and optimism or the decades of revolutionary changes and prosperity, Scott Fitzgerald made a decision to emphasize the bleaker and more odious side of this revelry as he focused his attention on fatal consequences of American dream that were stimulated by indulgence, shallow recklessness, continuous pursuit of pleasure, excessive cynicism of people, greed, and concentration on material wealth (Fitzgerald, 2013).
Although the American dream offered tremendous benefits to humans, The Great Gatsby proves that it quickly corrupted because instead of chasing for opportunities, people didn’t manage to still their irresistible desire for money, entertainments, and pleasure. Scott Fitzgerald provides evidence in his novel that the American dream made people disillusioned, frivolous, and morally degrading. For instance, the author of the novel comes to conclusion that American dream has nothing in common with individualism, discovery of new opportunities, and happiness, because easy money, significance of social statuses, and corrupted social values destroy dreams and fortune. For example, Gatsby’s dream of loving his sweetheart Daisy is ruined because of difference in so-called respective social statuses that played significant role in society of that day (Fitzgerald, 2013).
Although Gatsby successfully caught up his American dream and became rich as well as successful in society of that time, he was never happy because he had everything he wished except Daisy. One the one hand, Scott Fitzgerald supports the idea of “omnipotence” of American dream as he proves that Gatsby, a “self-made person” from unfortunate and obscure background, belongs to people who achieved their American dream with help of hard work, motivation, force of will, and passionate love. At the same time, F. S. Fitzgerald is the proponent of the idea that materialism and wealth are not the main pillars of American dream because romantic love, but not social recognition and money make people truly happy (Fitzgerald, 2013).
Other heroes of the novel The Great Gatsby, especially Tom and Daisy, are also “infected” with excessive material wealth, significance of social recognition, and, finally, consumerism. Moreover, houses and mansions described by Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby are bright examples of the relentless competition among “followers” of the American dream to declare their high and reputable statuses (Fitzgerald, 2013).
Automobiles are also viewed in this novel as obvious indicators of a human triumph, luxury, material wealth, and successful life. According to Fitzgerald’s idea, Gatsby’s attempt to attract attention of Daisy and seek her love through material accumulation is the convincing proof that demonstrates the demise of American dream. In spite of the fact that Gatsby assures Nick that people can repeat their past and get absolutely fresh beginning, Gatsby’s material possessions are not powerful enough to recall his love (Fitzgerald, 2013).
Gatsby truly believed that his recognition in society, luxurious clothes, splendid car, and expensive mansion will give him a chance to receive his love in return and bring him happiness. However, the pursuit of American dream “spoils” Daisy Buchanan as well because this beautiful young woman, who lives among the representatives of aristocracy, becomes shallow, frivolous, and sardonic. Though she lives in the aura of wealth, carelessness, luxury, and sophistication, Daisy is in love with incredible material possessions, ease, lightheartedness, frivolity, and money. Unfortunately, she is no more in love with Jay Gatsby because she cannot betray aristocracy, moral shallowness, and safety that are insured to her by money (Fitzgerald, 2013).
Thus, amoral behavior and actions of Fitzgerald’s heroes prove that omnipresent notion of American dream has proven to be ambiguous and increasingly controversial as it depends on what people chase and strive for. After reading Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, it is possible to make a conclusion that the author of this masterpiece depicts it as a positive as well as negative concept. In other words, Scott Fitzgerald makes a decision to showcase the American dream in ambiguous manner to prove that American dream is a reality and, at the same time, illusion. Fitzgerald motivates readers to realize that humans decide by themselves what the American dream is. However, The Great Gatsby proves that degrading morality, material possessions, continuous pursuit of pleasure, and frivolousness never make people happy because happiness, like the American dream, is relative. Besides, happiness as well as the American dream is a harmony inside a human soul that cannot be owned or earned.