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Sarahy Del Valle

Professor Crum

English 100


The Reality of the American Dream

The Great Gatsby has long been seen as one of the best pieces of literature written in a

long time. Today we use it in many schools and most use the theme “ The American Dream”.

Most people in our times picture the typical American dream a certain way but Fitzgerald

portrays it in a harsh way insinuating that people who don’t come from money rarely achieve

anything close to their American dream in the end.

Take Gatsby as an example although he had money, he wasn’t able to achieve his dream

because his lack of social class made him susceptible to failure among those born rich. “ Gatsby

symbolizes both the corrupted Dream and the original uncorrupted Dream”. Gatsby was not born

rich and even when he was set to inherit money, he was cheated out of it so in order for him to

get money to try to win the love of his life back he had to do shady things to become rich. He

was considered “New” money. Even then it took him three years to save up to buy his dream

house when Daisy and Tom just bought it and began renovating it, they didn’t need to save up.

Tom and Daisy are known as “old” money, they come from a high social class family

where marrying someone else who is rich was the only acceptable thing. Although both Tom and

Daisy have had problems in their marriage, mostly from Tom cheating, they have still managed

to stay together. Tom is the definition of the “macho” man who works and takes care of his

family while his wife, in this case Daisy, stays at home taking care of the child. "They're such

beautiful shirts," she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. "It makes me sad because I've
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never seen such—such beautiful shirts before." Daisy is very materialistic which makes her

American dream about money and what other people think. She falls in love with Gatsby even

more because he’s rich which makes her want to be with him but when it came down to tell tom

about leaving him, she couldn’t because she was afraid about what people were going to think.

Tom is just like Daisy when it comes to what other people will think and he is also very

into money. Since they are rich, they have never learned to take responsibility for their

consequences therefore when Gatsby died, they just packed up, bought a new house somewhere

else and pretended nothing ever happened. This goes to show that people with money can live

their dream and if they encounter obstacles, they just flash some money around and make them


Jordan also comes from “old” money, but she is not as rich as Daisy and Tom, that

doesn’t stop her from using her wealthy and social class to her advantage. She cheated in order to

win her tournament and she knows it helped her achieve her dreams, but she doesn’t mind even

though she cheated someone who was supposed to win fair and square. Fitzgerald uses Jordan to

portray the American dream as being able to be bought by people who have the money but also

social connections, social connections being something Gatsby was not born with therefore being

why he couldn’t achieve his dream.

Nick, the humblest character, was in the middle. He was not poor, but he was not rich, he

came from “old” money but wasn’t raised like Tom, Jordan or Daisy. His American Dream was

to work and gain his own money. It is unclear whether or not he ever achieved his dream but the

little that was known is that since he had social connection and came from money he was most

likely to succeed.
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In conclusion Fitzgerald portrays the American Dream as unachievable to those who do

not come from money like Gatsby and for those who do, it will come easily to them. Although

Gatsby had money Fitzgerald is trying to also convey that money will not buy your dream, it

takes two things: Money and Social Class. Social class can’t be bought you have to be born into

it in order to have the advantages.

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Works Cited

Banach, Jennifer. "F. Scott Fitzgerald’s American Dream." Critical Insights: Fitzgerald, F. Scott,

edited by Don Noble, Salem, 2010. Salem Online.

Damon, William. "American dreams and visions." Hoover Digest, no. 2, 2014, p. 160+.

Opposing Viewpoints in Context,

=OVIC&xid=f79657b2. Accessed 11 Dec. 2018.

Marshall, Donald G. "Great Gatsby, The." World Book Advanced, World Book, 2018, Accessed 4 Dec. 2018.

Roberts, Marilyn. "Scarface, The Great Gatsby, and the American Dream." Literature-Film

Quarterly, vol. 34, no. 1, 2006, p. 71+. Literature Resource Center,

GLS&xid=132b893d. Accessed 11 Dec. 2018.

Stocks, Claire. "'All men are [not] created equal': F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby: Claire

Stocks illustrates how the narrator's bias towards this novel's hero is central to the critique of belief in the
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'American Dream'." The English Review, vol. 17, no. 3, 2007, p. 9+. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 3

Dec. 2018.