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In the character of Gatsby, Fitzgerald holds the idea of the American Dream up to ridicule. With reference to appropriately sele - Essay Example

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Name here Professor English 17 October 2012 Extravagance: The Great American Dream - or Nightmare? In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the protagonist, Jay Gatsby, is portrayed as being a symbol of the American dream, but ironically, this “dream” ends up being more of a nightmare…
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In the character of Gatsby, Fitzgerald holds the idea of the American Dream up to ridicule. With reference to appropriately sele
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"In the character of Gatsby, Fitzgerald holds the idea of the American Dream up to ridicule. With reference to appropriately sele"

Download file to see previous pages But when Gatsby returned from the war to New York with riches and a newfound power, he was able to grab hold of the American dream. This dream that became a reality, however, seemed to sell Gatsby short, as he tragically found that his newly acquired wealth and social status - as well as the girl of his dreams, Daisy Buchanan - could not purchase his happiness. In fact, this dream came at the price of his good character, and ultimately, his life. Fitzgerald uses Gatsby in this novel to represent what went wrong with America - a society in the Roaring Twenties that turned its back on morals and integrity to embrace wealth, prestige, parties, immorality and alcohol - ingredients not for happiness and fulfillment, but for loneliness and despair. Fitzgerald begins dismantling the heightened image of the American dream through the character and narrator, Nick Caraway, who often describes and characterizes Gatsby during his quest for Daisy, respect, and acceptance. Unlike most of the other characters in the novel, however, Nick sees through Gatsby’s supposed fulfillment and satisfaction, and does not envy the “great Gatsby,” who is praised and idolized by the indulgent materialistic crowds that gather at his mansion to party and drink. This lifestyle that society was told to buy into did not appeal to Nick, “Gatsby turned out all right in the end; it was what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the aborted sorrows and short-winded elations of men,” (Fitzgerald 6). Instead of seeing Gatsby as a high-paying consumer, Nick sees Gatsby as the one who was being consumed by the price of having to pay dearly to reach his costly dreams, which will ultimately cost him his life. Nick saw through the false promises of happiness to be attained by pursuing and reaching the American dream, and he notes that any satisfaction or happiness gleaned as a result is shallow and short-lived. Early on, the reader witnesses that the ideals of glitz, glamour, prestige, promiscuity, and all the trappings of what became known as the high society in the Roaring Twenties is not what it is cut out to be. Even though Gatsby and the high-brow company he keeps are characterized as living the American dream, the author uses Nick to show the true depravity of those who jump on board to live for this flawed concept. Nick actually calls Gatsby out, telling him exactly what he thinks about those who believe that they have reached the top of the ladder in life, “They’re a rotten crowd . . . You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together,” (Fitzgerald 162). Through Nick, Fitzgerald shows that Gatsby and all the partying elite with which he surrounds himself are morally depraved - even though they hold themselves up as being above the rest of society (that has not achieved the American dream). Nick even sets himself apart from Gatsby and his wealthy revelers, noting that virtuous behavior is far from what those chasing after the American dream possess, “Everyone suspects themselves of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known,” (Fitzgerald 64). This statement goes to show that moral behavior in the upper class society on Long ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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