Essay, Research Paper: Great Gatsby

Literature: The Great Gatsby

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The Great Gatsby, a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is about the American Dream,
and the downfall of those who attempt to reach its illusionary goals. The
attempt to capture the American Dream is central to many novels. This dream is
different for different people, but in The Great Gatsby, for Jay, the dream is
that through wealth and power, one can acquire happiness. To get this happiness
Jay must reach into the past and relive an old dream and in order to do this he
must have wealth and power. Jay Gatsby, the central figure of the the story, is
one character who longs for the past. Surprisingly he devotes most of his adult
life trying to recapture it and, finally, dies in its pursuit. In the past, Jay
had a love affair with the affluent Daisy. Knowing he could not marry her
because of the difference in their social status, he leaves her to amass wealth
to reach her economic standards. Once he acquires this wealth, he moves near to
Daisy, "Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay
(83)," and throws extravagant parties, hoping by chance she might show up
at one of them. He, himself, does not attend his parties but watches them from a
distance. When this dream doesn't happen, he asks around casually if anyone
knows her. Soon he meets Nick Carraway, a cousin of Daisy, who agrees to set up
a meeting, "He wants to know...if you'll invite Daisy to your house some
afternoon and then let him come over (83)." Gatsby's personal dream
symbolizes the larger American Dream where all have the opportunity to get what
they want. Later, as we see in the Plaza Hotel, Jay still believes that Daisy
loves him. He is convinced of this as is shown when he takes the blame for
Myrtle's death. "Was Daisy driving?" "Yes...but of course I'll
say I was." (151) He also watches and protects Daisy as she returns home.
"How long are you going to wait?" "All night if necessary."
(152) Jay cannot accept that the past is gone and done with. Jay is sure that he
can capture his dream with wealth and influence. He believes that he acted for a
good beyond his personal interest and that should guarantee success. Nick
attempts to show Jay the folly of his dream, but Jay innocently replies to
Nick's assertion that the past cannot be relived by saying, "Yes you can,
old sport." This shows the confidence that Jay has in fulfilling his
American Dream. For Jay, his American Dream is not material possessions,
although it may seem that way. He only comes into riches so that he can fulfill
his true American Dream, Daisy. Gatsby doesn't rest until his American Dream is
finally fulfilled. However, it never comes about and he ends up paying the
ultimate price for it. The idea of the American Dream still holds true in
today's time, be it wealth, love, or fame. But one thing never changes about the
American Dream; everyone desires something in life, and everyone, somehow,
strives to get it. Gatsby is a prime example of pursuing the American Dream.

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