Has Gatsby Achieved The American Dream?

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade January 2002

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Though Jay Gatsby, the protagonist of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, has achieved the American Dream as it is generally recognized, amassing fame and fortune, he is missing an integral part of happiness - love. He finds this missing piece in Daisy Buchanan, a married woman for whom Gatsby has had feelings for many years. Gatsby focuses so strongly on his love for Daisy that it precludes all else; in the end, it is his downfall.

Jay Gatsby was originally James Gatz, a boy from North Dakota with noble aspirations and a strong work ethic. He went to Lake Superior, taking menial jobs as a clam digger and the like, then went west to Minnesota for a brief stint at St. Olaf's College, where he stayed for two weeks before dropping out. Still searching for his destiny, he returned to Lake Superior, where he met a man by the name of Dan Cody.

Cody, a disillusioned millionaire, took a liking to the newborn Jay Gatsby, which is how Gatz introduced himself, and took him on as a personal assistant. After Cody died, Gatsby saw none of his millions, but instead inherited enough experience to give the persona of Jay Gatsby "the substantiality of a man." [p. 107] Gatsby entered the ranks of the American soldier, and during his training, met Daisy. He fell in love, but his social status was not compatible with that of Daisy; she was rich - Gatsby was not. Jay left for the front, leaving a pining Daisy in his wake. Daisy would always remember Gatsby, and awaited his return with anticipation, but when he went to Oxford on a free ride after the Armistice, she felt betrayed. When Gatsby returned from Europe, he found Daisy Buchanan, swept off of her feet by a...