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Honor English III: Topic: ID and Society
10 October 2018
The Great Gatsby Essay: The American Dream
The American Dream, the idea of anyone can become wealthy and enjoy long-lasting happy life as long as they work hard enough, has always been a big motivation in American literature in general and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald in particular. Discussion on whether the American Dream is real and obtainable or simply a great illusion built up by being in good company of the majority of society. Some believe in the possibility of this dream, although some challenge it. Supportively, the American Dream mentioned in Fitzgerald’s book is considered to be the society’s illusion due to the poorness not financially but emotionally of the characters in the book.
The American Dream is symbolized by a green light in The Great Gatsby: clearly bright but unattainable. As Nick come back home from the East Egg, he sees Gatsby lonely “standing with his hands in his pockets regarding the silver pepper for the stars” (Fitzgerald 20) as if he is waiting for something important. Nick also describes Gatsby’s following action, “He stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward–and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock.”(Fitzgerald 21). The green light indicates Gatsby’s hopes and dreams for Daisy, he reaches out unconditionally for it, as if he is always willing to grab and hold and possess “the green light”, or in the other the words, the life with Daisy. He will never actually touch the light, however, due to the physical, water as a vast obstacle, and mental, the differences in two’s origins, distance. This significantly infers the American Dream as an unachievable dream although people tend to see it so close at hand. The American Dream, through the image of the green light at Daisy’s house, seems to appear as an idea that any person can see the “brightness” of it, but not so many could ever realize how far it is because of their being blinded by its extreme shininess.
As an obvious illusionist throughout the whole story, Gatsby has revealed the cruel reality hidden behind the American Dream. His illusion and obsession over Daisy completely overcome his realization of his lonely real life, leading him to drown deeply in his irresistible made up world. As Nick describes the expression on Gatsby’s face when he is leaving at one day, “a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness. Almost five years! There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams—not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion.” (Fitzgerald 95). The idea of Daisy five years ago has been captivating Gatsby, so much that he devoted his life and love for her. Gatsby is...