A comparison between Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" and Mendes' "American Beauty"

Essay by bl4d3High School, 11th grade June 2007

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Task: You have been asked to present a student's point of view at an educational forum about why the contexts, issues and language of these two texts have so much to say to students about the Great American Dream and how the authors viewed that idea.

Format -EssayThe Great American Dream was and still is a popular concept amongst literary cynics; the belief that working harder now would earn you the things that you've always wanted, the things you've dreamed of. For most people, this was a two storey house on a 500 m² piece of land, a loving partner, and 2.3 children. However, Fitzgerald's novel "The Great Gatsby" and Mendes' film "American Beauty" shatter this illusion of perfection and show the reality of the Great American Dream, a hollow, materialistic lifestyle in which one is judged and judges on the basis of the things that they own.

Each text depicts the Great American Dream in its own way due to the differences in context, but both illustrate the futility of aspiring to the Great American Dream. The major difference in the texts is that where the Great Gatsby is about the erosion of a dream, American Beauty is about the realisation of a dream.

The Great Gatsby, set in the 1920s, was greatly influenced by the context at the time. The roaring twenties, as they were called, was a time of radical change in which the youth were breaking away from their parents and conformity, rebelling against society's norms and becoming "modern". It was around this time that the concept of the 'American Dream' was born. Daisy is a direct representation of everything 'modern' and 'beautiful', being the untamed girl that she was in her teens. Gatsby is attracted to this superficial 'beauty' of...