Broken Dreams and Fallen Themes: the Corruption of the American Dream in the Great Gatsby

1477 Words Sep 28th, 2005 6 Pages
Broken Dreams and Fallen Themes
In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald employs the use of characters, themes, and symbolism to convey the idea of the American Dream and its corruption through the aspects of wealth, family, and status. In regards to wealth and success, Fitzgerald makes clear the growing corruption of the American Dream by using Gatsby himself as a symbol for the corrupted dream throughout the text. In addition, when portraying the family the characters in Great Gatsby are used to expose the corruption growing in the family system present in the novel. Finally, the American longing for status as a citizen is gravely overshot when Gatsby surrounds his life with walls of lies in order to fulfill his desires for an impure dream.
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In his essay "Money, Love, and Aspiration", Roger Lewis discusses the means by which Gatsby amasses his wealth and poisons his dream.
Gatsby's money does not "smell" right- however explicitly tacitly condoned by the denizens of Gatsby's world illegal and shifty means (bootlegging, stolen securities) have been used to make that wealth. Gatsby does not see that the corruption at the base of his fortune in effect compromises his vision of life with Daisy

Obviously, Gatsby builds the foundations of his dream upon a structure of crime and deceit thus negating any nobility his dream once had. Throughout the book Gatsby continually throws outlandish parties where scores of people, whether invited or not, attend and revel in his hospitality; he later reveals his purpose in throwing these overly grandiose festivals, when Nick and he are talking after a party which Daisy has just attended. "'She didn't like it {Gatsby} said immediately...She didn't have a good time'" (Fitzgerald 116) fully expresses that his entire life at West Egg has been spent in pursuit of a woman who could never possibly fulfill his dream. The 1999 "Gatsby project" discussed the portrayal of wealth in The Great Gatsby by talking about Gatsby's car as a symbol.
The automobile is a major motif that makes a regular appearance in the story. The automobile has always been a kind of status symbol in the United States. Expensive cars are associated
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