"The American Dream" in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

Essay by ilovealva October 2004

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1. Introduction

F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1925) is regarded as the most outstanding work among his novels concerning the aspects of both its thoughts and artistry. Its theme is closely related to the time and opens a window for the reader to examine the 1920s America. The seeming post-war prosperity cannot hide the actual vanity and avoid the failure of the American Dream. F. Scott Fitzgerald depicts the flaws of Gatsby's dream and corruption of materialism. Beginning with the introduction of the American Dream and the story, the paper goes on to analyze the character Gatsby and some symbols in the novel, which implied the theme of the novel.

2. The American Dream and the story

The American Dream is "an American ideal of a happy and successful life to which all may aspire: "In the deepening gloom of the Depression, the American Dream represented a reaffirmation of traditional American hopes"' (Anthony Brandt)."1

Written in 1925, the novel serves as a bridge between World War I and the Great Depression of the early 1930's. Fitzgerald focused on the " roaring 20's". It is a time when American economy soared, and opportunities were everywhere. It is a time of moral decadence and feelings of complacency following the conclusion of the Great War. It seems that everybody at that time had an American Dream. Somebody succeeded, somebody failed. "Fitzgerald had revealed the stridency of an age of glittering innocence. In vivid and graceful prose he had, at the same time, portrayed the hollowness of the American worship of riches and the unending American dream of love, splendor, and fulfilled desires."(Wu Weiren 227)

The novel tells about the disillusion of Jay Gatsby. The story begins with the narrator young Nick, from Minnesota, moved to New York and there he got to...