The Emptiness of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby Essay

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Jay Gatsby’s sole purpose in life is to achieve the American Dream: to become a land owner, married to the love of his life, who live in comfort and abundance. However, he never gets everything he wants as his love for Daisy is not as fully reciprocated as he wishes it to be. His dream, and the one Nick pursues as well, are only dreams in the end. The culture of the time only gives empty fulfillment with no real substance. The people, like their dreams, are only illusions of what they want to be. Gatsby’s life after the war is his search for his American Dream, which, in his eyes, culminates in Daisy. Nick observes that Gatsby “found that he had committed himself to the following of a grail” (149). Fitzgerald chooses to compare Gatsby’s …show more content…
They both think the ideal is something that Gatsby can grasp even though it is a dream and nothing more. Gatsby’s death is the realization that nothing can ever be the ideal. He was so close to getting what he wanted, but he never gets the full package. The world that Nick recounts is full of idealizations. When Nick first encounters Jordan and Daisy, “They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house” (8). The women here sound like something out of a fairy tale. They come off as fantastical but are not as good of people as they may seem. Their false presentation brings up the lies behind everyone’s presentation. Gatsby, as well, is not what he presents himself as. He is said to be an “Oxford man” but only visited Oxford with Dan Cody. The façades are a part of society’s attempt to be something it is not and to present itself as something better than it is. The truth is that they are all, in their own ways, like Tom and Daisy

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. (179)

Nick acknowledges the lack of responsibility Tom and Daisy have for their actions. Both “things and creatures”, material objects and living things lie in the path of…