The Myth of the American Dream—Francis Scott Fitzgerald

Essay by strongdude59High School, 11th gradeA-, March 2009

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The Myth of the American Dream—Francis Scott FitzgeraldF. Scott Fitzgerald’s life and work can be explained through the words of French Writer André Maurois when he wrote, “the need to express oneself in writing springs from maladjustment to life, or from an inner conflict, which the adolescent, or grown man, cannot resolve in action” (Bruccoli 1 Preface). In addition, C.K. Doreski quotes Kenneth Burke as he describes Fitzgerald as, “…the perfect example of your theory of social analogy. In all his work the hero represents the rising middle class, the heroine represents inherited money, they kiss as if he were embracing a pile of stock certificates…” (Doreski 97). Fitzgerald was a product of World War I, the “Roaring Twenties” and the Great Depression, periods characterized by major political, social and cultural events in America and the world. His own personal social background and life reflects the history of the time he lived through.

The themes found in his work describe the way he felt about what was happening to him, to the people around him, and how they affected him personally. One dominant theme in his work is his feeling about the reality of the American Dream, a myth in Fitzgerald’s mind, and the clash between what life really was and the vision people had about it. This theme is best expressed in The Great Gatsby, written in 1925, and considered as one of his best novels. In it Fitzgerald “examines the results of the Jazz Age generation's adherence to false material values” as well as the social and class conflicts associated with the American dream.

Fitzgerald was born in September 1896, in St. Paul, Minnesota, to a Catholic family. His father, Edward Fitzgerald, was from Maryland and came from an old aristocratic family attached to the Old South values...