Sample Essay on Why the American Dream is broken in The Great Gatsby

According to Scott Fitzgerald, the American Dream in the modern society is not achievable. The basis of the Dream was the creation of a nation where there would be opportunities for everyone in the society to be wealthy, regardless of their social and economic backgrounds. The only requirement for individuals to succeed was hard work. However, the dream did not consider factors such as income inequality, gender and racial bias and corruption, which affect the success of hard working individuals.  In the novel, Fitzgerald explains the factors that have hindered the realization of the American dream. The changed value system in the society is among the factors that have frustrated the realization of the American Dream (Costantea 61). Initially, the society valued aspects such as honesty and integrity, but the modern values are more economic-oriented. Success of an individual in the modern days is determined by the amount of material possessions that they own. The level of morality in the society is decreasing at an alarming rate, as people strive to amass a lot of economic wealth. Fitzgerald presents both the past and the modern situations in the society to show the reasons that it is impossible for the American Dream to be achieved.

Through the life of James Gatz, Fitzgerald shows the primary values of the American Dream; ambition, hope, perseverance and the willingness to succeed against all odds. The character works hard to become a hero in the society, because in his opinion that is the definition of American Dream.  During the time, success was defined by heroic acts and the willingness by individuals to develop their knowledge.  Fitzgerald links the failure to achieve the American Dream to focus of the society on material possessions, lack of humanity and privilege. The modern society has replaced the core values of the American Dream such as hope and perseverance with money, thus frustrating its achievement. Through the character played by Gatsby, Fitzgerald shows the high immortality in the society where people are willing to go to extreme extents to make money.

Gatsby is portrayed as a corrupt individual who uses underground connections to gain material wealth (Costantea 74).  Tom and Daisy are also other characters that the author uses to explain the loss of hope in the modern society as a factor that limits the realization of the American Dream. The two characters are said to live hopeless lives full of regrets. At the beginning of the novel, Gatsby is portrayed as a hopeful person with great dreams and ambitions and he is committed to creating as much wealth as he can. However, the greed for money, materialism and erosion of morals make him lose sight of the main goals and his dreams and ambitions are shattered. The situation represents the current events in the American society, where individuals have lost focus on the meaning of life and are pursuing activities that make them more miserable. At the end of the novel, the theme of hopelessness is still evident, as portrayed by the death of Gatsby and Daisy’s baby. The decision by William to commit suicide also portrays a sense of hopelessness in the modern society.  In his opinion, Fitzgerald feels that the American Dream cannot be achieved in a society that possesses the current values.


Works Cited

Costantea, Ioana-Maria. “Cultural and literary context in the United States after The Great War: The case of the Great Gatsby.” (2016). 51-78.