The Great Gatsby the American Dream

Last Updated on 02/10/2023 by Sophia


The novel “The Great Gatsby” was written in 1925 by a popular American author known
as F. Scott Fitzgerald. The author compiled the novel following a cast of characters residing in
mysterious and fictional towns of East Egg and West Egg in 1922. Ideally, the novel portrays a
tragic love story that depicts a pessimistic critique of the American Dream. Throughout the
novel, Jay Gatsby overcomes poverty by gaining an incredible amount of money along with a
certain amount of social cache. However, his money is rejected by the “old money” crowd and
later killed after tangling with them 1 . The core purpose of this paper is to put across that the
American dream is the only concept of perfection and can never be achieved about the novel
“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The Great Gatsby the American Dream

The American Dream can be interpreted differently by different people based on their
points of view. According to some people, the American dream is based on the freedom of
religion race or class. On the other hand, some people claim that the American dream is based on
the ability to select their place of work, what to wear, or what to eat. Basing the central theme of
the American dream on the novel “The Great Gatsby,” it is quite clear that Jay Gatsby and other
characters believe that the American dream is about accessing wealth and other material
possessions with an agenda of gaining happiness. Throughout the nine chapters of the novel, F.
Scott Fitzgerald demonstrates, “the American Dream is only the concept of perfection, something
1 Abubakar. The Dark Side of the American Dream: A Memoir, 111.

The Great Gatsby the American Dream 3
that can never be acquired, but always can be reached for.” 2 Scott Fitzgerald demonstrated how
different characters in the novel attempted to find perfection. For example, Gatsby, Myrtle, and
Daisy believed the money would lead them to luxurious lives and happiness. Unfortunately, no
matter how fiercely they tried, they never attained happiness. Thus, these characters demonstrate
that the American Dream is about striving for perfection without achieving it.
Addressing several events in the novel is essential. In the first case, Daisy Buchanon is
always mesmerized by wealth and material possession. She is driven by her dream that poses a
luxurious lifestyle. Ideally, Daisy doesn’t believe that Gatsby could provide a luxurious lifestyle
for her as shown before the events of the novel. Gatsby is a military man, and before going for
war, Daisy promised him that she would wait for him to come back and marry her. Later on,
Daisy met Tom and forgot about the promise she made to Gatsby. Surprisingly, Daisy and Tom
got married thereby breaching her agreement with Gatsby 3 . Undoubtedly, Daisy married Tom
based on his wealth and her desire to live a luxurious lifestyle that Gatsby could not provide. In
that connection, it is quite clear that it is challenging to enhance the perfection in the American
Dream because Daisy ignored the virtual of human personality at the expense of wealth and
material possession. Also, her promise to Gatsby was an empty one because she felt that Gatsby
would not satisfy her material needs.
It was quite clear that Gatsby was relatively weak and Daisy knew he would not satisfy
her luxurious lifestyle. Ironically, Gatsby also felt that he would not meet Daisy’s love for
2 Abubakar. The Dark Side of the American Dream: A Memoir, 113.
3 Abubakar. The Dark Side of the American Dream: A Memoir, 111.

money and wealth since he thought that, “he was in Daisy’s house by a colossal accident . . . He
was at present a penniless young man without a past, and at any moment the invisible cloak of
his uniform might slip from his shoulders”. 4 Substantially, Gatsby cannot support Daisy and that
why she lost interest after Gatsby left for war. The ideology that the American Dream is a
concept of perfection and never be achieved is revealed when Daisy started to develop interest
on Gatsby when he began to hold wild parties every night in the neighborhood of West Egg and
East Egg.
Another evidence on the concept of perfection the American Dream based on the novel
was vivid on Daisy’s behavioral patterns. After marrying Tom, Daisy feels that his wealth is not
sufficient to satisfy her desires of material possession and luxurious lifestyle. When Daisy sees
the shirts, she is unhappy simply because Tom is not similar to her in terms of living a luxurious
lifestyle such as owning an extensive collection of clothing. Mainly, Daisy is blinded by money
and material possession and always aims to gain more than she has. Daisy does not appreciate
what she gets because she is overambitious to achieve more. Based on the novel, it is quite clear
the concept of perfection is an unattainable goal for Daisy to tantalize 5 . Ideally, Gatsby thought
he would get fulfillment from Daisy, but she could never satisfy Gatsby’ dreams. Instead, he met
a corrupt woman whose only desire was to get wealthy by marrying a wealthy man. In other
words, Daisy was not meant to marry Gatsby, but she was supposed to be the person he
attempted to get which is a false image of perfection. The ultimate fulfillment of the American

4 Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby (Collins Classics), 56.

5 Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby (Collins Classics), 123.

dream in the novel was Gatsby’s journey towards perfection, but not the events of failure to
reach the end.
The American Dream on the concept of perfection is also evident in the events of Myrtle
Wilson. The perception of Myrtle Wilson on the American Dream is to access wealth and to
become a high-class status citizen 6 . However, Myrtle Wilson feels that this dream is impossible.
Primarily, Myrtle Wilson is married to a working-class husband with several material wealth
such as an auto shop in New York. Just like Daisy, Myrtle Wilson is so corrupted with wealth
thereby propelling her to cheat in her loving and hardworking husband. Myrtle Wilson cheats in
her husband only to be access to Tom Buchanon’s money.
Myrtle Wilson even criticizes her marriage by saying, “The only crazy I was, was when I
married him. I knew right away. I made a mistake. He borrowed somebody’s best suit to get
married in . . . then I lay down and cried to beat the band all afternoon.” 7 She was thinking about
the concept of perfection, but it was impossible due to issues of money, wealth, material
possession, and luxurious lifestyle before marrying her husband, Myrtle though he was wealthy
and she would get perfection from his wealth. Myrtle could not believe when her husband
borrowed a suit. She succumbed to depression and thought her life was destroyed. In the end,
Myrtle’s marriage was destroyed by her unhealthy fixation on wealth. To fix her alleged desire
for perfection, Myrtle became Tom’s mistress because he could supply her with money she
required to maintain her happiness. The events in Myrtle Wilson’s life indicate that the American
dream on the concept of perfection cannot be attained.

6 Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby (Collins Classics), 121.
7 Rösch. The deconstruction of the American dream in "The Great Gatsby,"89.

The author attempted to create a perfect novel by displaying Gatsby and other characters
on how they are living an American Dream. The flawed and central them is, but this concept is
unachievable. Figures have tried to achieve the American dream by attempting to live a life of
personal happiness based on material wealth as purported in the traditional believes in the U.S.
With the understanding of the American dream, Jay is sarcastically introduced as “Mr. Nobody
from nowhere.” 8 His is portrayed as a wealthy man where no one knows his source of wealth.
Ideally, many characters in the novel are attempting to gain extreme wealth by using all possible
means. The narrator, Nick Carraway introduced these characters with their desire to access
wealth with an agenda of obtaining happiness and satisfaction. They believe money and material
possession would make them happy due to the assumption that wealthy people have the highest
power and they can achieve whatever they want. Throughout the book, characters such as Daisy
and Myrtle demonstrated dissatisfaction from their money thereby indicating that the American
dream of perfection is unattainable.
Mainly, F. Scott Fitzgerald has used these characters to denounce the assertion that the
American dream of perfection can be achieved. Many characters are figuring out how to gain
extreme wealth, but they fail to understand that the process of acquiring wealth requires sacrifice.
Genuinely wealthy people sacrifice their desires and other luxurious aspects of their lives. The
novel indicates that Gatsby wanted to become wealthy to grab Daisy’s attention potentially
through money. It was unfortunate for Gatsby because the process of attracting Daisy with
money corrupted his principles and ideologies 9 . Daisy wanted her American dream to come true,
but Gatsby could not make it happen. Ideally, the author was transcending in the correct

8 Rösch. The deconstruction of the American dream in "The Great Gatsby,"89.
9 Rösch. The deconstruction of the American dream in "The Great Gatsby,"82.

direction about the American dream via the concept of perfection, but unfortunately, the goal
was not attainable. , There is a sacrifice to achieve the American dream, and you always have
something to offer rather than living in perfection.
The American dream on the concept of perfection is demonstrated in the novel by using
silver and gold as colors to represent money and wealth. In other words, wealth truly exists in the
lives of these characters. The narrator, Nick Carraway described Jordan Baker as having golden
shoulders and arm as a way to indicate he had wealth abundance. Throughout the novel, no
character appears to be appeased by gold and silver because each of the character desired to
access more than what was on disposal. The author has sarcastically used Jordan’s case by
saying that not even being a “golden girl” could satisfy herself 10 . Ideally, she strives for
perfection by desiring to gain more wealth using fraudulent means. Mostly, all the characters in
the novel long for more wealth thinking that more money can fulfill their American Dream and
happiness. They dishonest means to satisfy their desires. It is surprising that none of the
characters are successful in convincing their American Dream through perfection. The author
uses these cases to demonstrate that all desires can never be satisfied no matter how hard people
try to meet them. Besides, the American dream is an unattainable dream even if people try
perfection in the process of achieving the goal.
Someone would argue that Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan, and Tom have satisfied their
American dream because they are elite and have it all. These characters have substantial
sprawling bungalows and private golf courses. Have they achieved their American Dream? Their
American dream can never be satisfied because they want it all even when they have all they
need. Mostly, Daisy and Tom are out to satisfy their pleasures 11 . On the other hand, Jay is a loner

10 Rösch. The deconstruction of the American dream in "The Great Gatsby,"112.

whose desire is to look for love even after wasting his life with wild parties. Besides, Daisy and
Tom are not modest personalities because they know they are wealthy and they flaunt it. These
characters are arrogant, and they openly show off their wealth to visitors such as Nick. They are
trying perfection on their American Dream, but it is quite clear they can never attain it because
money has dominated their lives. It is quite sad that they are living the American Dream of pride,
sophistication, power, and wealth. The author describes Tom as a “hulking wad of muscle,” to
indicate that Daisy is a deception of the corrupted wealthy technocrats with power and money,
but their American Dream can never be achieved.

Overall, the American Dream is an ideology that mythically assumes that people struggle to
satisfy their desires but can never achieve these desires. In other words, the dream cannot be
realized because people are driven by perfection that makes them feel better than others. In the
novel, all the character developed an extreme appetite for wealth, and they used corrupted means
to get more. Conversely, the American Dream became impossible wealthy, stronger, and smarter
than the characters. Generally, many people are propelled to achieve the American Dream due to
believing that some people have attained it. The society in the novel assumes that perfection is
ideal where flaws are hidden. The characters believed in perfection because they attempted to
copy others who purported to have achieved the American Dream.


11 Uddin. The American Dream, 45.

Abubakar, Ibrahim. The Dark Side of the American Dream: A Memoir. CreateSpace Independent
Publishing Platform, 2015.

Fitzgerald, Scott. The Great Gatsby (Collins Classics). Harper Press, 2010.

Rösch, Tobias. The deconstruction of the American dream in "The Great Gatsby." GRIN Verlag,

Uddin, Jashim. The American Dream. Xlibris, 2015.