What is "The Gatsby Dream"?

The Gatsby Dream
is about a young man's dream of...

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The History of Jay Gatsby
The relationship between Gatsby and Daisy
An outline of Jay Gatsby's dream
Comparing the Gatsby Dream and the American Dream

Check out an original, "Great Gatsby Song!"
A music video of "The Perfect Jay Gatsby"

The Outline of Jay Gatsby's Dream

First of all, before actually going into the outline of Gatsby's Dream, we should know that Gatsby's mind and focus of life was on Daisy. So, knowing that, let's go into the world of the outline of Gatsby's Dreams.

< He wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should go to Tom and say: "I never loved you." After she had obliterated four years with that sentence they could decide upon the more practical measures to be taken. One of them was that, after she was free, they were to go back to Louisville and be married from her house- just as if it were five years ago.> (The Great Gatsby page 109)

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The important thing is: What were Jay Gatsby's little dreams in order to achieve the Big Goal: Daisy?

It is MONEY. In the book 'The Great Gatsby', there are many passages that show Gatsby's great wealth, such as when he is throwing great parties, or when he has a cool expensive car, or shows his massive collection of clothes. It is ALL MONEY.

<There was music from my neighbor's house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars. At high tide in the afternoon I watched his guests diving from the tower of his raft, or taking the sun on the hot sand of his beach while his two motor-boats slit the waters of the Sound, drawing aquaplanes over cataracts of foam.> (page 39)

In the book, Gatsby himself said that the reason he got rich was because he wanted to repeat the past, this time with Daisy.

<He wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should go to Tom and say: "I never loved you."...
"I wouldn't ask too much of her," I ventured. "You can't repeat the past."> (page 109,110)

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Great Jay Gatsby, although he was very rich and had everything to own, was an unfortunate fellow, who achieved his little dreams - wealth - but not his ultimate goal: Daisy.

Thank you very much, elf Sharon. That was very helpful. Well, to summarize, it seems like Gatsby's dreams have an outline of one ultimate big goal, which is Daisy, and a small goal, money and wealth. It is a little embittering to see that Gatsby, in fact, THE Great Gatsby failed to achieve his dream.

The History of Jay Gatsby

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tobybw.jpg All have the illusion that Jay Gatsby had everything one can ever want, yet his life certainly wasn't all glitz and glam. He was born into a less fortunate family, yet later pursued his dreams through hard work and determination. He grew up being called by the name of James Gatz. Yet, at the age of seventeen, not only was the name buried, but James Gatz’ identity as well. “He invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end” (98). Gatsby was a man of great integrity, love, honor, and respect. Unfortunately, society chose to look through that.
Jay Gatsby always reminisced about the past; he lived a lie because of his idealization that old memories can occur once again. When Nick, the narrator, demonstrates to Gatsby that the past cannot be repeated, “he cries incredulously” saying, “Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can.” This is probably due to the glory years Jay Gatsby had.

At the time of the novel, Gatsby was about thirty years old. Yet, his chaotic and extravagant life truly started at the age of seventeen – “when he saw Dan Cody’s yacht drop anchor over the most insidious flat on Lake Superior” (98). James Gatz was born ineagles+nest.jpg West Egg, Long Island. His “parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people – his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all” (98). Yet, his father certainly thought a lot of him. During Gatsby’s funeral, his father, Henry C. Gatz mentions that “He [Gatsby] had a big future before him… He was only a young man, but he had a lot of brain power there” (168). “For over a year, he had been beating his way along the south shore of Lake Superior as a clam-digger and a salmon-fisher or in any other capacity that brought him food and bed” (98). Gatsby attempted to use his “brain power” at the small Lutheran college of St. Olaf’s in southern Minnesota, yet he was in absolute sorrow being there. In order to pay for this education, he worked as a janitor.
It was a fifty year old man named Dan Cody who “had been coasting along all too hospitable shores for five years when he turned up as James Gatz’s destiny in Little Girl Bay” (99). Dan Cody was “a product of the Nevada
silver fields, of the Yukon, of every rush for metal since seventy-five. The transactions in Montana copper that made him many times a millionaire” (99). James Gatsby had found Dan Cody’s yacht at Lake Superior, where he had settled after staying for two weeks at St. Olaf’s. “It was James Gatz who had been loafing along the beach that afternoon in a torn green jersey and a pair of canvas pants, but it was already Jay Gatsby who borrowed a rowboat, pulled out to the Tuolomee, and informed Cody that a wind might catch him and break him up in half an hour” (98). Due to Gatsby’s wisdom and intelligence, he later on served as Cody’s “steward, mate, skipper, secretary, and even jailor” for five years – in which they had already traveled around the continent thrice. Dan Cody passed away after a woman named Elle Kaye came aboard one night – she had received the millions that Dan Cody possessed. Gatsby, however, still obtained twenty-five thousand dollars, yet he “never understood the legal device that was used against him” (100).

Every experience Gatsby went through in his lifetime forms the illusion that he was a very powerful character. He had gone through various struggles with women, his hardships as a child, and making sure that he was facing reality. “He knew women early, and since they spoiled him he became contemptuous of them… They were hysterical about things which in his over-whelming
self-absorption he took for granted” (98). Since Gatsby had been used to “young virgins” throwing themselves at him, the rich girl Daisy caught his eye while training to be an officer in World War I. She promised to wait for him when he set out for the war. While serving Dan Cody, however, “his heart was in a constant, turbulent riot” (98). He had illusions and thoughts that “were a satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality, a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy’s wing” (99).

Indeed, after growing up with a challenged childhood, Gatsby had difficulty coming to the realization of everything that he had. In all honesty, he was overwhelmed, which is probably why he suffered from emotional conflict upon getting everything he wanted. Overall, everything Gatsby had accomplished is truly outstanding; it’s unfortunate that society chose to only look at his exterior, and not truly investigate the real Jay Gatsby.

“I suppose he [Gatsby] smiled at Cody – he had probably discovered that people liked him when he smiled.” (100)


The foundation of their relationship was embezzled in a whirl of young romance tainted with the unrealistic, unbounded thoughts of love accumulated by their naive minds. He met her in Louisville in 1917 before he left to bravely fight for his country in World War 1. Drawn in by her arcane countenance, he fell deeply in love with Daisy. Their romance was brief, but their sorrow was lasting. At least that was the case for Jay Gatsby.

War claimed him for five years. The horrors that Gatsby witnessed were unaccounted for in the novel, but one can only imagine. Through the downpour of bullets and the waves of bodies blown apart by bombs, Daisy was a constant reminder that his life had meaning. Daisy was proof that beauty did exist in the seemingly fragmented world.
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Unfortunately, Daisy was not so steadfast in her emotions. It wasn't long after Gatsby left that she married a rich sporting prodigy and had a child. It would seem that her love for the solider at war was as flippant as the humility of West Egg socialites.

Upon Jay's return, he had only reunion on his mind. He sought to rekindle the flame that once burnt with a thousand suns between him and Daisy. However, he neglected to consider the possibility that she may not be as doting as she once was. Gatsby kept the splinter of affection he received from Daisy and cherished it with such loving tenderness that it swelled beyond the perimeters of reality and became a sugar coated notion of romance. He bought one of the largest homes in America and filled it with opulent furnishings and a constant horde of high-class people who swarmed through the rooms in a cloud of superior importance. This life of luxury was built solely for Daisy's approval.

When he saw her, he was drawn back to the time before war and separation, a time of uncluttered sentiments. As time went on though, Gatsby saw that Daisy had released her heart to another. The image that he had clung onto for years was slowly dissipating before his very eyes. Still, he pursued her. With the combined pressure from Gatsby's relentless pursuits for her ardour and the strain of her marriage, Daisy was forced to breaking point. She admitted to both Gatsby and Tom that she had not fully loved either of them. At first, Gatsby didn't believe her and claimed that she was just saying that to satisfy her spouse. But as time drew on, he accepted the fact that the years had taken with it her loyalty.

Gatsby died without his beloved Daisy at his side. She left with Tom after the death of Myrtle and was not to return. The mere idea of Daisy's love had sustained Gatsby throughout his entire adult life. Without the hope of her ever returning to him, there was nothing else to live for. Every part of his ostentatious life had been carefully constructed for her. In vain he had pursued her and in vain he had met his demise.

Gatsby Dream and the American Dream

According to Fitzgerald, the author, the American Dream was about discovery, individualism, and pursuit of happiness. Everyone wanted to enjoy life, but the object of their dreams—money and power—corrupted the American Dream. Just like the American Dream, Gatsby’s dream was based on his ‘pursuit of happiness’ to impress Daisy, but his objectives were misplaced. Throughout the novel, Fitzegerald gives clues of Gatsby's dream through the green light, as well as the reasons to why Gatsby was incapable to fufill his dream.
The first chapter ends with a hint of Gatsby’s Dream—the green light. “But I didn’t call him, for he gave a
American Dream
American Dream
sudden intimation that he was content to be alone—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.” (21)
In this chunk of text, Gatsby is reaching out toward the green light, as if he’s worshipping it. Later on, this green light is revealed as the light at the end of Daisy’s dock. The green light symbolizes hope, promise, and renewal—a very appropriate description of Gatsby’s Dream of loving Daisy.

Long before, Gatsby and Daisy fell deeply in love, but because of the social status difference, Gatsby could not claim her. After the war, he finds Daisy married with a wealthy man, Tom Buchanan, but still tries to win her love back because Daisy means everything to him. It was her that gave meaning to his life; “… So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would likely to invent, and to his conception he was faithful to the end.”(91)


It must have been difficult to be the perfect man, especially since he had nothing. Yet Gatsby didn’t give up and was ‘faithful’ till the end. However, just like many Americans, Gatsby cheated his way into prosperity, spoiling his goal right from the beginning. “He and this Wolfsheim bought up a lot of side-street drug-stores here and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter. That’s one of his stunts. I picked him for a bootlegger the first time I saw him, and I wasn’t far wrong.” (133) Back in the 1920’s, alcohol was illegal and those who got catch either drinking or selling would face punishments. Even though it was a dangerous job, Gatsby choose to smuggle alcohol because it was the fastest way available to become wealthy. This foolish mistake caused Gatsby’s dream to fail because he was trying to buy Daisy’s love, and not earn it.

Gatsby should have seen it coming, but when Gatsby became rich, confidence started to arise and blinded him from foreseeing the corruption. “You can’t repeat the past.” “Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!” He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand. “I’m going to fix everything just the way it was before” he said, nodding determinedly. (110) Gatsby is full of confidence now that he is perfect. He sees no reason why Daisy wouldn’t fall for him, and he was correct. Daisy did love Gatsby back, but not the same way she used to. The obsession of wealth only caused Daisy to love Gatsby’s superficial image, proving that repeating the past under the influence of the American Dream is impossible.
The New American
The New American

Fitzgerald finally ends the novel with a new description of the green light in Gatsby’s Dream. “I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailor’s eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world.” (180) Explorers travelled long distances, from East to West, to escape from their corrupted nation. When they found America, they dreamed of a new nation of peace and moral status. Unfortunately, America itself is now corrupted; therefore, like the Americans, the characters in the Great Gatsby travelled west to east in search for wealth while leaving behind the social and moral values. Like the others, Gatsby choose this way and since he cheated his way to success, his dream failed. Not only did his dream fail because of his easy money, but also because of the unworthiness of the his objectives. Just like how the Americans’ objectives were to become wealth, Gatsby’s objective was to impress the ideal perfection of Daisy that eventually was misplaced. Gatsby thought Daisy as the perfect goddess, yet she neither deserved nor possessed any features of it. For example, right before the climax, Daisy tells Gatsby that he reminds her of an advertisement. This proves that in Daisy’s eyes, Gatsby is no longer the man she used to love, but a man of great success and prosperity.

Both Gatsby and the Americans longed to return back to their peaceful and pleasant hoods, but due to their misplaced faith, they both crumble with their dreams. In the end, Gatsby’s Dream faded away as Gatsby died, relating to how the American Dream influenced many and ruined their lives...

"SparkNotes: The Great Gatsby: Themes, Motifs & Symbols." SparkNotes:
Today's Most Popular Study Guides . Web. 8 Dec. 2010.
< http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/gatsby/themes.html >.