The Corruption of the American Dream in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

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Francis Scott Fitzgerald portrays the American Dream, originally a set of goals that included freedom, settlement, and an honest life with the possibility of upward social and economic mobility earned through hard work, as corrupted and debased by the egotistic materialism of the 1920s, an era which Fitzgerald characterizes chiefly by its greed and lavish hedonism, in his celebrated novel The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald, in The Great Gatsby, seeks to discredit the supposed purity of the American Dream and belief that anyone can attain it through hard work. Instead, he argues that the dream is a mere delusion, altered so significantly from its original form that its pursuers aspire for and achieve nothing more than the hoarding of hollow …show more content…
Myrtle’s depraved lover and East Egger who comes from a long-established line of money, Tom Buchanan, also serves as a portrayal of the decaying American Dream in the face of growing immorality. To start, Tom has been cheating on his wife Daisy since their honeymoon, representing again the loose morals of the time. Additionally, Tom, the wealthiest character in this novel, arguably acts the most amorally and strays away, more than the other characters, from the true ideals of the American Dream. Instead, Tom projects the idea that one does not need hard work and honesty to gain entrance to the upper class nor to make a name for oneself. For example, Tom, so rich that he does not even know where his vast wealth originates, does not need to work, content with spending his money on polo horses, maintaining a “lawn [that runs]… a quarter of a mile,” and buying expensive white suits; the white indicates that he does no work that could possibly sully the suit (Fitzgerald 11). His house, described as an elegant estate with an “Italian garden, a half-acre of deep pungent roses, [and]…French windows…ajar and gleaming white against the fresh grass outside,” serves to further emphasize his extensive wealth (Fitzgerald 12). However, as the narrator Nick begins to converse