American Dream, "The Great Gatsby", "American Beauty" (film) - freedom & power, greed, isolation & failure

Essay by marnitramtinHigh School, 11th gradeA-, January 2007

download word file, 5 pages 4.0 2 reviews

The American Dream is an abstract ideal that human beings live by. The appeal of this ideal is that chasing the dream leads to freedom and power for the individual. However, through the study of the texts The Great Gatsby by Francis S. Fitzgerald and American Beauty directed by Sam Mendes, we have learnt these rewards do not come without unrespectable consequences such as greed, isolation and failure.

Greed, isolation and failure can be grouped into the term corruption as it is also corruption that is the consequence of chasing the American Dream. This downfall can be seen in Jay Gatsby's high expectations. His pedestalling of 'his' dream Daisy is an example of both isolation and greed. Before he encounters Daisy, Gatsby is simply an enigma to readers as he "stands at the top of the staircase looking down on his guests" and isolates himself at his grand parties.

As his dream becomes more of a reality as he meets Daisy we learn that he has pedestaled her to the point where his expectations are unachievable. Even Daisy points this out to Gatsby - "Oh you want too much! ... I love you now - isn't that enough?"

The concept of living a fake life with unreal expectations is reinforced in American Beauty. The character Lester contrasts Gatsby in this aspect of the Dream as Lester aspires for not materialism, rather a life 'worth' living as he describes himself - "I feel like I've been in a coma for the past twenty years and I'm now just waking up.". The 'woken' Lester Burnham is more accepted by viewers than the 'coma' induced Lester simply because he is not corrupt. Lester's counterpart and wife, Carolyn is less accepted as she shows her love for materials and status. Her relationship with...