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The Deceit of the American Dream

In: English and Literature

Submitted By kgmariano1997
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The Deceit of The American Dream in
The Great Gatsby
Many strive for success through strenuous amounts of hard work and dedication.
However, once this success is achieved, they are still unhappy. In the 1920s, the majority of people had one dream to achieve ­ particularly the American Dream. In essence, the American
Dream is the idea of anyone being able to achieve success if they put in a lot dedication and hard work. The novel
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a classic twentieth­century story that revolves primarily around the theme of the American Dream. The characters of Tom and Daisy
Buchanan, Jay Gatsby and Myrtle Wilson are prime examples of characters who represent this theme.
The Great Gatsby gives a vivid peek into the lives of Americans who live the American
Dream, and proves it to be rather a deceptive fallacy. This deceit results in the downfall of many characters within the novel as they try to obtain the unachievable goal of the American Dream.
Tom and Daisy Buchanan represent what many lower­class citizens in the U.S. strive to be: wealthy and high­status socialites. This facade is what tricks many into thinking that the
American Dream results in a greater and happier life. However, Tom and Daisy’s happiness only goes so far. Apart from being successful, this couple encounters many debacles both within and out of their marriage. Like many who live in East Egg, Tom came from a wealthy family and made sure he stayed that way. Although Tom has theoretically achieved the American Dream, he still is not satisfied with his life. He sees Daisy as an object of possession that he bought with his wealth. It evident when he says, “She’s not leaving me! … Certainly not for a common swindler who’d have to steal the ring he put on her finger” (Fitzgerald, 133). This is when Gatsby has confronted Tom about Daisy’s love for him. It shows that Daisy can be bought with money, and

that she will never leave Tom because he has earned his wealth truthfully, unlike Gatsby.
Despite the fact that Tom has reached the alleged American Dream, he had to ‘buy’ Daisy.
Furthermore, even after buying Daisy’s love, he still is unhappy with his life and thus he decides to have an affair with Myrtle Wilson to compensate for his dissatisfaction. Tom says “and what’s more, I love Daisy too. Once in a while I go off on a spree and make a fool of myself, but I always come back, and in my heart I love her all the time” (Fitzgerald, 131), proving that the affair with Myrtle is purely for him to enjoy himself while he is with Daisy. Tom’s American
Dream is to have more than what he already has, but it leads him to become unfaithful to his wife, despite already living a comfortable life with Daisy. Moreover, Daisy knows about this affair but because she is blinded by her dream of being wealthy, she tries to ignores that the affair exists. Before Tom, Daisy was in love with Gatsby. However, because he was leaving for war, Daisy did not have the patience to wait for him. In light of this, Daisy marries Tom instead to secure her wealth. After being reunited with Gatsby, who is now one of the newly rich, she realizes that Gatsby can provide her with more than Tom could ever. It is clear that Daisy is materialistic when she is with Gatsby and says to him in regards to his clothes, “it makes me sad because I’ve never seen such ­ such beautiful shirts before” (Fitzgerald, 93). By Daisy becoming upset at the fact that she has never seen such beautiful shirts, prove how materialistic she is. As a result of realizing Gatsby’s wealth, she starts an affair with Gatsby. However, after learning of how Gatsby obtained his wealth through bootlegging and knowing that his wealth may not last, she quickly goes back to Tom since she knows that he has earned his wealth truthfully. This further proves that money is very important to her. Overall, both Tom and Daisy are unhappy with their marriage but are together as both have the American Dream of being wealthy. They

both know that in order to stay wealthy they must continue their marriage, despite their affairs.
Their marriage is proof that the American Dream is nothing but a deceptive fallacy, as both are wealthy but are still unhappy with their lives.
Myrtle Wilson, the mistress of Tom Buchanan, is dissatisfied with the way she lives. It is clear that like Daisy, Myrtle is money­hungry and materialistic as well. It is evident when she says “I knew right away I made a mistake. [Her husband] borrowed someone’s best suit to get married in and never even told me about it” (Fitzgerald, 35). Thus, she began an affair with Tom to amalgamate herself into the high­class society that she dreams of being apart of. She even continues the affair after “Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand” (Fitzgerald, 37), further proving that she is determined in achieving the American Dream. As a result of her desires to achieve the alleged American Dream, she becomes a fool and a toy to Tom. It is only when Myrtle sees Tom in her husband’s garage with Jordan (whom she believes is his wife), that she comes into terms with reality and that she and Tom will never be married due to the difference in their social classes, “[Myrtle’s] eyes, wide with jealous terror, were fixed not on
Tom but on Jordan Baker, whom she took to be his wife” (Fitzgerald, 125). Despite this,
Myrtle’s still adamant about her loss of her future with Tom. As a result, she runs out onto the road when she notices what she believed was Tom’s car passing the garage once again, to presumably beg Tom to take her with him. Instead, she is fatally hit by Daisy who was driving the car. Myrtle believed that if she were to be with Tom, she would be much happier. However, it was the deceptiveness of the American Dream is what fatally killed Myrtle in the end.
Another character that is fatally killed is Jay Gatsby, who epitomizes the American
Dream. His motivation for success and riches was Daisy. From being a poor man, he worked

hard to become wealthy so that he could be win Daisy’s love back. However, he did generate his income illegally through bootlegging. Nevertheless, Gatsby did achieve the American Dream but he was still unhappy with his life. The only way that Gatsby would be happy was that if he was with Daisy, thus this was his version of the American Dream. As a result, he moved across the bay from Daisy’s home and threw extravagant parties, in hopes that Daisy would attend and realize how wealthy he has become. With the help of Nick, Gatsby is finally reunited with Daisy, and he begins an affair with her. Now that he has fulfilled his American Dream, he realizes that it is not enough. He wants Daisy to admit that she has never loved Tom and has always loved him, and only then will he be truly satisfied. Gatsby says to Daisy, “it doesn’t matter any more. Just tell [Tom] the truth — that you never loved [Tom] — and it’s all wiped out forever” (Fitzgerald,
132). Daisy is still reluctant to admit that she never loved Tom, so she says “I did love [Tom] once, but I loved [Gatsby] too” (Fitzgerald, 132). This upsets Gatsby and it is cleared when
“[his] eyes opened and closed. ‘You loved me too?’ he repeated” (Fitzgerald, 132). Now Gatsby realizes that he can never truly have Daisy, his American Dream to himself. Although Gatsby has achieved this alleged American dream, he is still quite unhappy. His life also ends in cold blood, at the hands of George Wilson.
Tom and Daisy Buchanan, Myrtle Wilson and Jay Gatsby all worked hard to achieve their American Dream, but were still unsatisfied with the results. Tom and Daisy had what everyone strived for, but were still unhappy and thus both had affairs. Myrtle Wilson has an affair with Tom to amalgamate herself into the higher­class society, but despite her abusive relationship with Tom, she continues the affair. Due to the fact that she desires this, it ends up with her getting killed. Jay Gatsby is not content, even after achieving his American Dream. He

wants more from Daisy, which ultimately ends with him being murdered in cold blood at the hands of George Wilson. These characters prove that the American Dream is nothing but a deceptive fallacy. The American Dream is just a facade that undermined many into thinking that being successful is the only way you will be happy. Hard work and dedication will surely bring you towards success with regards to wealth, but definitely not happiness.

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