The American Dream
The pursuit of the American dream took an ugly detour in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald shows us this tragedy by depicting the different segments of society in the East. They are the old rich, the new rich and the poor. All three of these segments are presented as shallow and morally bankrupt. The old rich are snobbish to the new rich and new rich look down on people without money. The poor in the novel will abandon their principles to associate with money. Fitzgerald is stating that having or acquiring wealth is not what the American dream is about.
Tom and Daisy are the old rich and live in East Egg. Jay Gatsby is the new rich and lives ...view middle of the document...
.. as if the whole evening had been a trick of some sort”(Fitzgerald 18 ). Emotions for these people do not run deep. It’s merely a performance. Also Nick is astounded to find out that the affair Tom is having is nearly common knowledge but nobody seems to really care.
Myrtle and George Wilson represent the poor in the novel. Myrtle will do anything to rub shoulders with the rich and powerful. Myrtle has an affair with Tom Buchanan and adopts what she thinks is the behavior of the rich and powerful. “The intense vitality that had been so remarkable in the garage was converted into impressive hauteur. Her laughter, her gestures, her assertions became more affected moment by moment”(Fitzgerald 31). She is willing to put up with being used by Tom just so she can play at being rich. Gatsby, on the other hand, has his own moral code when it comes to Daisy. After the accident he kept watch to make sure nothing happened to Daisy. But Gatsby was so obsessed with Daisy he gained his wealth and power as a bootlegger. He was a criminal.
Fitzgerald seems to be saying that momentary wealth is not the American dream. In fact the pursuit of such wealth can be not only immoral but also dangerous. Daisy left the scene of the accident. Tom had a hand in Gatsby’s murder. Neither the new rich nor the old rich fare well in the novel. However, the old rich that have lived a privileged life the longest are the most immoral. But both the new and old rich seem only to care about their own amusement and material things. The characters in The Great Gatsby think wealth and privilege are the American dream. They were wrong.