The Great Gatsby’s American Dream Corrupption “There are those, I know, who will reply that the liberation of humanity, the freedom of man and. mind, is nothing but a dream. They are right. It is. It is the American Dream. ” (Archibald MacLeish). This quote talks about how the American Dream is only a dream. The American is a life of personal happiness and material comfort, and is traditionally sought by the individuals in the U. S. It is only a fantasy. Author F. Scott Fitzgerald shows a great example of the causes and affects the American Dream has on people during the 1920s in his novel, The Great Gatsby.
Fitzgerald explains that the American Dream is unattainable through the characters and their actions and the symbolism throughout the novel. In the novel Fitzgerald indicates that the American Dream is unachievable through Gatsby’s unrealistic image of the dream. Gatsby has been in love with daisy for years and spent his life proving that he was worthy enough for her to leave her husband and take him back. Gatsby believed money could substitute for time: “Can’t repeat the past? […]why of course you can[…] I’m going to fix everything just the way it was before[…]shell see”(Fitzgerald 117).
Although Gatsby recreated his past environment with money, he could not recreate the past feelings that were destroyed by time. Gatsby’s dream is bigger than himself. Critic Casie E. Hermanson writes: “it is the attempt itself and the firm belief that he can achieve the impossible that makes Gatsby more than the sum of his reality” (Hermanson 78). Gatsby’s dream was more than his own reality. It was too big of a dream for him which is why he was not able to achieve it. After Gatsby’s was killed nick realizes that Gatsby’s dream of the East Egg was not all that it was set out to be.
Nick says: “After Gatsby’s death the East was haunted for me like that, distorted beyond my eyes’ power of correction” (Fitzgerald 185). Nick later on in the novel realizes that Gatsby’s dream of the east was corrupt and it wasn’t as great as it was thought to be. Gatsby’s dream was not achieved, his dream killed him. Gatsby’s great American Dream was bigger than reality itself which is why it was not possible to achieve it. Fitzgerald uses lots of symbolism in his novel to get across the idea that the American Dream is not attainable. One of the symbolisms that Fitzgerald uses to symbolize the American Dream is Gatsby’s big mansion.
Fitzgerald writes: “The one on my right was a colossal affair by any standard – it was a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden” (Fitzgerald 9). Gatsby’s mansion symbolizes that the American Dream causes people to spend money irresponsibly and to live selfish lives. Materialism seems to be everything people think they need to achieve the American Dream which is why it is not possible to achieve it.
Fitzgerald also uses the Valley of Ashes to symbolize the American Dream not being possible to achieve. Fitzgerald writes: “This is the valley of ashes – a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens, where ashes take the form of houses and chimneys and rising smoke[…]of men dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air” (Fitzgerald 27). Fitzgerald uses the Valley of Ashes to symbolize the result of everyone’s pursuit of the American Dream and their pursuit of wealth. It is filled with ashes like it’s been burnt out and is filthy.
It represents societal decay and is basically a dumping ground for everyone who has failed at achieving the American Dream. In the novel Fitzgerald always describes Daisy with light like she’s angelic. Critic Casie E. Hermanson writes: “Daisy is dressed in white and associated with light and sunshine throughout the novel […] Gatsby’s own devotion to her has a permanence that Daisy cannot live up to , yet Gatsby seems committed to an idea of Daisy that he has created rather than to the real woman she is” (Hermanson 77). Daisy is always bright and described with light in the novel, which symbolizes Gatsby’s image of her that he has created.
In his mind she is angelic and perfect and bright. But she is not the woman he thinks she is. She is far from being an angel. The symbolism that Fitzgerald used in the novel shows that the American Dream does not lead to any success. Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby is based around the immorality of the characters and how the unrealistic American Dream causes it. Gatsby’s American Dream causes him and Daisy to act immorally. “As he left the room again she got up and went over to Gatsby and pulled his face down kissing him on the mouth” (Fitzgerald 122). Gatsby’s dream is Daisy, who is one of the most immoral characters in the novel.
As soon as Tom, Daisy’s husband, leaves the room Daisy cheats on him by kissing Gatsby. Gatsby’s Great American Dream was causing Daisy to be immoral and cheat on her husband. The American Dream is only causing immorality in the characters’ lives because it is so unrealistic and unreachable to Gatsby. Gatsby needed wealth to achieve his dream, eventually Tom figures out how he really got his wealth. “I found out what your ‘drug stores’ were. […] He and this Wolfshiem bought up a lot of side-street drug stores here and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter […] I picked him a bootlegger the first time I saw him”(Fitzgerald 139).
Gatsby’s only way of achieving his dream and winning back Daisy’s love is by becoming wealthy, so he became a bootlegger. Which is why Daisy chose Tom instead of Gatsby, it was a safer pick. Gatsby’s American Dream was so unrealistic and bigger than himself that he had to resort to immoral crime to try and achieve it. Not only does Gatsby create his own American Dream, but he recreates his whole past with lies to make his dream attainable. While Nick, the narrator of the novel, was getting to know Gatsby he caught him in his own lies when Gatsby told him that it took him three years to earn the money for his mansion. I thought you inherited your money”…”I did old sport […] but I lost most of it in the big […] panic of the war. ” (Fitzgerald 95). Nick was surprised when Gatsby claimed that he earned the money to buy his house because Gatsby had preciously told Nick that he lived off of the money he inherited from family. Gatsby’s American Dream is not only causing him to commit crimes and try and steal a married woman from her husband, it also causes him to live a lie and make everyone around him believe his lie of a life.
The American Dream is causing all of this immorality because it is not realistic and it is nothing more than a fantasy. Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby, indicates through its characters and their behaviors and through the symbolism in the novel that the American Dream is unrealistic and cannot be achieved. From Gatsby’s unrealistic, bigger than himself image of the dream and the crimes and lies that he goes through to attempt to achieve the dream and from the immorality and the other characters actions it is indicated that the American Dream is nothing but a dream.
It cannot be achieved especially not with the unrealistic images that Gatsby and some of the other characters create in their minds about the dream. The topic of the American Dream is still important in the real world because it sets a goal. Although sometimes the goal for people to work hard for. It gives people a purpose or something to dream of and try and work hard to achieve. Of course it is sometimes highly unlikely that a person will achieve the dream but it gives a sense of hope or something to look forward to.