American Dream Intro
American Dream in the Great Gatsby
Corruption of the American Dream
Character Anaylsis

It's not just ANY kind of dream.
It's the. . . . .

AMERICAN DREAM external image 220px-Statueofliberty.JPG

What's an American Dream??
The American Dream, is a national ethos of the United States in which freedom includes a promise of the possibility of prosperity and success. In the American Dream, first expressed by James Truslow Adams in 1931, "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" regardless of social class or circumstances of birth. The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the second sentence of the United States Declaration of Independence which states that "all men are created equal" and that they are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights" including "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."
Home ownership is sometimes used as a proxy for achieving the promised prosperity; ownership has been a status symbol separating the middle classes from the poor. Sometimes the Dream is identified with success in sports or how working class immigrants seek to join the American way of life.
-Article from Wikipedia edited by Hanbin

Great Gatsby and AmericanDream. See the CONNECTION!

PARTY! pafty.jpg
In the novel, Gatsby throws a party every week. His fancy Rolls Royce brings his guest to the party.
Since a lot of people were earning money quickly, they could spend large amounts of money on parties and luxuries. The book visualizes Gatsby's party as a place where people are all greedy and egoistic.


Another name for 1920's was called the Jazz Age. For every party, there would be a group of jazz musicians playing Jazz songs. In addition, it wasn't only music which was being changed, but various forms of arts such as paintings, books, and poems were developing during the Jazz age. By understanding these artistic changes during the Jazz Age, the reader could picture the images of the story in the Great Gatsby.

Women! Flappers!flz.jpg
"Flapper" in the 1920s was a term applied to a "new breed" of young Western women who wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior. Flappers were seen as brash for wearing excessive makeup, drinking, treating sex in a casual manner, smoking, driving automobiles and otherwise flouting social and sexual norms.(wikipedia)

In the book, Jordan Baker, Myrtle Wilson, and Daisy Buchanan all represent typical flappers as they love to party, drink, dance, chat and entertain themselves in life. In addition, Jordan Baker being a professional golfer represents equality among both sexes, as, previously, women did not compete as professional (or were even allowed to play) sports players.

Desire for Big house!
House ownership was one of the most important parts of the American Dream. It focused around every citizen of the United States having their own house and property. However, buying just a house didn't satsify people. They wanted a BIG HOUSE. Living in a big house would represent their personal wealth and power. Although they didn't "essentially" need big houses, these oversized houses became the tool of swagger for the rich people.
In the novel, Gatsby buys a mansion in East Egg just in order to meet and show Daisy his "wealth" and "status". Though this would be different from other people who intend to brag in front of all people, Gatsby still wants his house to act as a tool to brag about his wealth to Daisy.

The American Dream is not what it actually seems. In the 1920’s, the American Dream was nothing but an idea of materialistic wealth and objective pleasures. The desire for the American Dream represented the demise of America where hard work and good ethics were abandoned for wealth and the good life.

images.jpg Although the novel and the American Dream have a lot of connections between them, this doesn't mean that the American Dream is an ideal ethos for human beings. The novel was set in 1920's America - a time when a corrupted version of the original American Dream was being acted out. The qualities of hardwork and honesty were forgotten about in the excessive pursuit of wealth, riches and prestige. The novel represents this perversion of the dream - for example, the enormous contrast between the Eggs (East and West) and the Valley of Ashes show the gap between the poor and rich, and the "success" of the corrupted American Dream.

In reality, the American Dream is based on nothing but immoral wealth and materialistic desires for the pleasures in life. However, once at the top, there is nowhere to go but down. And, for those who took the easy road of the American Dream, they might have been trapped into the dangerous side of this ethos.
Character Analysis

In the novel, the author uses symbolic and less obvious images to represent the American Dream and its corrbook..jpguption in the 1920's.

Jay Gatsby - He is the classic example of American Dream. He is looking for a life better than his previous one, filled with fortune and materialistic wealth. When Gatsby meets Daisy, he realizes what he needs in life. For Gatsby, Daisy is his American Dream. In his every action, he thinks about Daisy.
However, Daisy is the classic example of everything that is wrong with the American Dream. She is shallow, greedy and concerned with nothing but pure wealth and material luxury. Gatsby's failure to realize this represents America’s failure to realise that the American Dream isn't that perfect.

Gatsby is from a poor family and he became rich by himself, something every American in the 1910-1920’s was trying to do. Gatsby demonstrates his wealth with his fancy Saturday parties. However, like many people who struggle to get to the top, for Gatsby, the American Dream is still out of reach and his goal will never be completed without Daisy.

Nick Carraway - He is just an observer who sees both the good and bad sides of the American dream in 1920's.

Daisy Buchanan- The love interest of Jay Gatsby. She comes from an aristocratic family and is used to the good life. She marries Tom because he is wealthy and can provide her with the material luxuries she is used to. Daisy shows no compassion for anything including her daughter and often hides behind her money.
In addition, in the end, she chooses to disappear out of Gatsby’s life and go back with Tom, never to be heard from again. Daisy Buchanan is materialistic, but also attractive and desirable. She is the personified version of the American Dream.

girl_golfer.jpgJordan Baker - She is a well known golf-player who is thin and wealthy, but she isn't satisfied with what she already has. She will do anything in order to win. She will do anything to be right all the time. Nick describes Jordan as "incurably dishonest. She wasn't able to endure being at a disadvantage, and given this unwillingness I suppose she had begun dealing in subterfuges when she was very young in order to keep that cool insolent smile turned to the world and yet satisfy the demands of her hard jaunty body" (63). Jordan isn't satisfied with her life because she isn't honest. She knows that her success is fickle and that it can disappear at any moment because it was not built on hard work towards The American Dream.

Myrtle Wilson- She has a loyal husband, but Myrtle wants everything else. Myrtle looks at the East Egg folks with envy and a little bit of animosity. She doesn't understand why they get to live The American Dream while she is stuck in "The Valley of Ashes" with her poor husband. She feels that she deserves more; she feels she deserves Tom, his money, power, and iGreed_2.jpgnfluence. She reflects the "greediness" of the American Dream.

Tom Buchanan - He is already powerful, wealthy, and has a gorgeous daughter and wife. However, he isn't satisfied with that. The American Dream to him means he deserves more. One woman isn't enough for him, he wants two. He thinks that he gets more power because of his mistress Myrtle. Tom acknowledges his need for more when he says, "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, in my heart I love her all".

The obsession with The American Dream leads to chaos and betrayal. It leads to destroying others who are in the way in order to get to the goal. Nick's father says, "Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,...just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had'". If the characters would have learned about this advice, they would have realized all the wonderful things that they have and there would be no betrayals nor chaos. "Life is much more successfully looked at from a single window, after all" Gatsby truly looked through life from one window. His window was Daisy, but she failed him. The American Dream failed him. He failed himself. The problem with The American Dream is that it never fulfills, it never satisfies, and it leaves damage in the society.

When I was researching about American Dream, I found this video from youtube. This video is about the Great Gatsby and American Dream, but it focuses on the core issue of this contaminated dream.
Can we bring the true American Dream back?