27 May 2009
People in America believed that once someone became rich, he or she would be happy forever. Being rich meant that the finer things in life were completely at their fingertips. Friends, a great spouse, a big house, and lots of money to buy whatever they wanted meant that everything was entirely perfect. However, people needed to stop believing in the American Dream because the long awaited goal is unattainable. In the 1920s, the rich white race had totally fallen for this American Dream concept. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, "The Great Gatsby," to help the people understand that this goal was unrealizable, and by using his characters Nick, Tom, Daisy, and Gatsby, the message had gotten through to them. The American Dream was all about the money, and money couldn't buy anyone his or her happiness.
Nick was a person who had the least amount of money, but had the most joy and fun out of life. Because he had lacked vast wealth, he never experienced any of the issues that were associated with money, and for that, he became the most fortunate out of the group. He was somebody who was not focused on acquiring the American Dream. He came and went as he pleased, and was worried over nothing. He was happy with the way things were and wasn't trying to change any of it. His father's words really came through when he told Nick "all of the people… haven't had the [same] advantages that you've had." (5)
Tom and Daisy were very rich people, but were the most indifferent out of the group, who only cared about spending money on useless items. In their eyes, they had already reached the American Dream and were trying to live off of it, but they were blindsided by money so much that they didn't even realize the hurt that they put on others and themselves. For Daisy, Gatsby recalled that "her voice is full of money" (127), wanting only the finest things that money could buy. She refused to deal with those who could not give her what she wanted. For Tom, his belief of the American Dream was to control everything. His thoughts were that only the white people were supposed to stay wealthy and in power and that they would have to "watch out or [the] other races [would] have control of things" (17). Fitzgerald managed to cleverly use both Tom and Daisy as a representation for people of the 1920s who were oblivious to the complication of reaching the American Dream.
Finally, the great Gatsby himself was the richest character out of the whole story, yet he was also the saddest. Everything he did was to please others, and in return, make himself happy. But the happiness never turned around and came back to him. In his juvenile days, he craved something more than the simple poor man's life. He was a man who craved the wealth and desired the happiness that was said to emit from obtaining the American Dream. The abandonment of his last name Gatz was more than enough proof to show that he was willing to give up his good past for a widely sought-after and unsure future. In other words, "he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream" (169). In the end, the highest price he paid for following the American Dream was with his own life. His funeral revealed the true emptiness in his life for having followed the dream. No one cared or even bothered to shed a tear for the man who wanted to live happy and be happy.
After having written all of this, Fitzgerald never allowed his main character, Gatsby, to realize or even experience the American Dream to the fullest. Because of this, Fitzgerald showed the American people that the American Dream doesn't revolve around money; it revolves around the close bond between family and friends, among close ties and togetherness. Gatsby's father was the finishing touch to the story, showing that family has and always will be right where they need it. The death of Gatsby was mainly a tragic loss to himself, having been fooled by his American society that the American Dream could be reached through wealth. So for those who still seek it, they end up with what they originally started with: nothing.