The Great Gatsby: The Great American Dream

Image by Sam Wolfe Connelly for the Folio edition of the book.

One of the only flaws I saw people picking up from The Great Gatsby is the exaggerated love story centering the novel.Exaggerated to some of us?Perhaps.Exaggerated to F.Scott Fitzgerald? Definitely not.For in the early 20th century,no dream was absurd and everything was possible in America,namely a young Fitzgerald’s Gatbyesque pursuit of Zelda Sayre,the golden girl of Montgomery youth society who was far above his means;it so happened that Fitzgerald acquired enough money from the selling of his first novel ,This Side of Paradise,to convince Zelda to marry him.

Fitzgerald lived in the most beautiful – although not the best,as it ended with the Great Depression – era of his country.Indeed during the roaring twenties Hollywood became an industry producing numerous icons,women were more emancipated and frivolous,people indulged in alcohol,sex,and parties,and spent lavishly as a result of a low inflation rate,and America even had its own charismatic gangster in Al Capone.

In the book Fitzgerald provides a flawless rendition of how life was to the rich during the Jazz Age.As Nick observes, ‘The parties were bigger.The pace was faster, the shows were broader, the buildings were higher, the morals were looser, and the liquor was cheaper.” Life was a dream and everything was possible,”even Gatsby could happen.” This particular quote holds a deep significance to the novel,as it refers to Gatsby as an absurd phenomenon instead of a human being.In essence Gatsby is a dream,or rather the American Dream.The young James Gatz harbored the hope of one day becoming Jay Gatsby,a sort of ideal which we all fancy dreaming when we have time to spend.But James Gatz against all odds turned his dream into reality;he who had not eaten for days and who barely had any clothe apart from his uniform went on to become a multi-millionaire,owning a mansion and luxury cars,dressing as per British fashion,and regularly throwing parties which even the uninvited could attend.Nick was right: it was only in New York that Gatsby could happen.

Gatsby seems to thrive even in his quixotic pursuit of Daisy.After years of reading the Chicago paper with the hope of seeing her name,he finally finds her in Long Island and decides to build his mansion just opposite to hers.The distance between these two is the closest he has ever been to her since leaving for the war.And as if a boon has fallen upon Gatsby,Nick Carraway,Daisy’s cousin,moves next door to him.Through the latter’s help,Gatsby rekindles his idyll with Daisy,and in the process,realises the dream closest to his heart.

However Fitzgerald implies in his book that while the American Dream is possible,it cannot last perennially,thus the death of Gatsby,who stands for the ideals of success and prosperity,by the end.The demise of Myrtle Wilson further reinforces that idea.In a way,through her affair with Tom,she lives her own American Dream,throwing rich parties and obtaining everything she desires.But ultimately his husband learns about her affair and locks her up until she runs to her death.Even Fitzgerald tasted the ephemeral nature of the American Dream.After leading a lavish lifestyle together with his wife,the latter – jealous of his success,according to Hemingway – encouraged him to drink and in the end,suffered from schizophrenia,hence leaving her husband on his own.

– I’ll write a full appreciation of this book in the coming days.It was my intention do so today,but the course of my words took a different path,hence this little,but,I hope,interesting post.

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9 thoughts on “The Great Gatsby: The Great American Dream”

      1. I’ll probably still read it though, don’t worry. It’s like real life – I know what comes at the end of it.

    1. Glad you like it!
      It’s from the Folio edition of the book! The illustrations in it are the best I’ve ever seen for The Great Gatsby.

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