Analysis of Gatsby's Failure at the American Dream in The Great Gatsby Essay

The Roaring Twenties brought in an epoch of extravagance and luxury. Besides material goods, people started pursuing the American dream of a stable life with a family. The main character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”, Jay Gatsby, is also fascinated to enter into the rat race of achieving the perfect “American Dream”. He wants daisy back and for that he tries to lure her with his wealth. But just like the Stock Market Crash of 1929, Gatsby’s American Dream crashes. By depicting the failure of Gatsby’s dream, Fitzgerald proves that the American dream is an illusion.

This dream of finding fortune, love and happiness is idealistic even when one resorts to unethical ways to obtain it. Like others, Gatsby fails to realize this fact. There are many instances where we see him trying to fulfill his American dream through corrupt ways and later we ultimately see his failure. Even though Gatsby is materialistic successful in his life, it is only due to unethical ways. Upon seeing Dan Cody’s yacht he starts having an eagerness to gain money. To accomplish this dream he gets involved in corrupt processes such as bootlegging and numerous illegal activities which he tries to cover up by lying.

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While having a conversation with Daisy, she asked Gatsby, “I thought you inherited your money. ” “I did, old sport,” he said automatically, “but I lost most of it in the big panic—the panic of the war. ”(90) This shows his dishonesty. Even though he doesn’t inherit money, he keeps on lying. He covers the origin of his wealth by mentioning that he owns a chain of Drugstores. However, Tom was able to find the truth and we realize Gatsby’s corruptness when Tom informs “He and this Wolfsheim brought up a lot of side street drug stores here and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter.

That’s one of little stunts. I picked him for a bootlegger for the first time I saw him, and I wasn’t far wrong. ” (133) Not only he used unethical means to acquire wealth, he also tries to corrupt Daisy’s mind by forcing her to forget Tom and tell him that he never loved him. To some extent he is successful but then Daisy later admits that, “Oh, you want too much! ” she cried to Gatsby. “I love you now—isn’t that enough? I can’t help what’s past. ” She began to sob helplessly. “I did love him once—but I loved you too. ” Gatsby’s eyes opened and closed. 132) Gatsby’s dream is crushed by Daisy’s admission. At this moment Gatsby is described as looking like he was bitten physically at the remark. Gatsby starts loosing courage to fulfill his American Dream. This is the point where we start seeing hollowness in his dream. He now has to believe that there is a real connection existing between Tom and Daisy and he won’t be able to tear that connection apart through his wealth. It shows that his American dream is idealistic and he has high expectations, which are soon to crash.

Gatsby tries his best to lure Daisy back through his wealth. He throws lavish parties just to impress Daisy. As Jordan informs “Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay. ”(78) We see that Gatsby’s house is a rather artificial place. The house was originally built to impress with his so-called wealth, and this is a sign of a corrupt way of “winning” his love through his materialistic achievements. He has an illusion that his wealth has the potential to achieve almost anything he desires.

Gatsby is always shown to be fascinated with the green light behind Daisy’s Dock. Nick comments, “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. ” (180) Green Light represented his wealth and his quest to get Daisy back. It symbolizes the pinnacle of his American dream and his hopes and dream for future that he would be able to obtain it by luring Daisy through his material possessions.

But he fails to realize that it is nothing but a light, which is untouchable and cannot be captured. The American dream is a symbol of hope, giving the characters the power to endure the problems of life. As we see, Gatsby’s dream became so focused on money that any means of obtain it were condoned, even if it were deceitful. In this, Gatsby fails to realize that the dream was just a mere illusion. While a dream can definitely contend one with the reality of life, one cannot attain everything they desire. Fitzgerald proves this by depicting the hollowness in Gatsby’s American dream.


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