‘An alluring but ultimately hollow enterprise.’ How far do you agree with this assertion about the novel’s presentation of the American Dream?
I largely agree with this assertion about the novel’s presentation of the American Dream. The American Dream was elevated in 1920s America because of the possibility to be wealthy despite not inheriting this wealth from one’s family. As such, through the novel, Fitzgerald repeatedly presents the American Dream as a goal that people in 1920s America who had humble beginnings avidly strived to attain. Despite the ideal of the American Dream seeming to captivate and attract people to strive for it, meaning to life seems to be lost in ‘achieving’ this dream. Even though characters like Gatsby and Myrtle appear to have achieved the American Dream, these efforts to attain the American Dream are ultimately seen to be futile and thus the American Dream appears to be a mere hopeless endeavour. Furthermore, the ‘achievement’ of the American Dream is shown to be a pyrrhic victory as one sacrifices their moral values and potential in this pursuit.
Through the novel, it is clearly expressed that the American Dream is a futile endeavour through the character, Gatsby. Daisy is the embodiment of the American Dream for Gatsby and he centres his life around the goal of ultimately being with her. The symbol of the green light is repeatedly used to represent this goal of reaching her. In the beginning, when Nick sees Gatsby, Gatsby had ‘stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way’ towards ‘a single green light’. The action of Gatsby reaching for the reflection of the green light from Daisy’s dork signified his yearning to be with her once again. However the description of the water as ‘dark’ forebodes a bleak outcome for Gatsby’s pursuit. When Gatsby is finally able to meet her, Nick said ‘Possibly it had occurred to [Gatsby] that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever’ which illiterates the idea that the green light is what signifies his goal of reuniting with Daisy and thus upon doing so, the light which was tremendously significant to him had now lost its meaning as she was now very close to him, ‘as close as a star to the moon’. The use of cosmic imagery elevates their love and relationship as if Gatsby had imagined this meeting to be almost magical. This sense of Gatsby’s captivation by whole idea of meeting Daisy which he long awaited can be seen when the objects are described as ‘enchanted’ which elevates the setting, giving us insight to Gatsby’s delirious state from finally reaching his long-planned for goal of meeting Daisy whom he has deemed as his dream.
However, despite thinking that he has achieved his dream, Daisy, whom he had placed his hopes in was an unstable character and in contrary to his view of her, was not innocent or pure and thus he was betrayed by her and this led to his tragic end. In the novel, Daisy is associated with the colour white like when Nick...