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The failure of the American dream can be seen through the main characters Gatsby, Daisy and Myrtle and Tom Buchannan. Gatsby is obviously the most important of the four, due to his significant roll in the book. Jay Gatsby is bent on getting his love interest, Daisy, his girlfriend before the war. Ironically, Gatsby, a decorated military officer, is so intent on getting Daisy back he involves himself in organized crime and bootlegging (Callahan 2). He moves in across the river from Daisy and throws lavish parties to try to get her to come and try to woo her back to him.
These lavish parties and Gatsby’s inability to move on will ultimately lead to his downfall. Baska 2 Gatsby’s personality parallels with many items brought up in the book. Fitzgerald uses Nick to describe Gatsby mansion, “The one on my right was a colossal affair by any standard—it was a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. It was Gatsby’s mansion” (Fitzgerald 7).
When Nick enters Gatsby’s house to attend one of his parties he also describes its grand rooms with high empty ceilings. Gatsby, much like his mansion, puts of this elegant appearance but on the inside he is hollow and tiring to find people to fill that hollowness Daisy’s character is very static just like the Gatsby; she plays Gatsby off and only truly liked him because he was just something new (Callahan 2). Despite being from the upper elite class and having the “perfect lifestyle”, she still is the third wheel in her relationship.
Tom, Daisy’s husband, engages in an affair with Myrtle and despite the thinking that the upper class is perfect and everyone should be like them Tom beats his wife and is very hot headed. Tom is also a factory owner and the New York factories have destroyed this valley known as the Valley of Ashes. In this Valley there is the sign of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg “The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic—their irises are one Baska 3 yard high.
They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose. Evidently some wild wag of an oculist set them there to fatten his practice in the borough of Queens, and then sank down himself into eternal blindness. ”(Fitzgerald 24) The decaying face of Eckleburg is there to show the consequences of the American Dream in the twenties and how it had destroyed the lives of many people. It may also be seen as the death of God in this day and age of social decay.
Much like Daisy in her youth Myrtle has decided the wealthy life is the way for her. Myrtle up till the end is an almost ideal picture of the American Dream despite cheating on her husband for Tom. Myrtle’s car has broken down and when she exits the car Daisy, who was coming down the road, hits her with her car. Myrtle had gone from the Valley of Ashes to the riches to being murdered by her love affair’s wife. This downward spiral continues when George Wilson, Myrtles husband, believes who ever hit Myrtle was the person she was having an affair with.
Tom tells Wilson that Gatsby was driving the car that hit Myrtle. Wilson goes to Gatsby’s house were he finds him relaxing in the pool on a float. Wilson shoots Gatsby then turns the gun on himself, showing us the tragic ending to the books corruption in the American Dream theme. Corruption in the twenties illustrated in The Great Gatsby parallels with many other generations, one such one is the most recent. The world today is filled with consumerism and the idea that to be reat and to be the person in the spot light you Baska 4 must have money and glamour. In The Great Gatsby, there is also the apparent struggle between the “new money” and the “old money” just as there is today. The Roaring twenties was the first generation to change the American Dream from the strait laced puritan morals to living large in the mansion. Hollywood, celebrities and the television has imbedded the failures of the American Dream which Fitzgerald has exposed in The Great Gatsby into today’s culture.
The middle class has been given the privilege to have a home and have freedom, so the view of the American dream has been changed by society. Tyler Durden, from Fight Club, expresses the sentiments above “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy stuff we don’t need” (Palahniuk 114). Despite all the ignorant prejudice the recent large scale Hispanic immigration hopefully will show America that The American Dream should not about having money and the perfect life, but having a safe haven to live your life free.
The people who left everything to come to America not to be famous or the wealthy but for a better life for them and their children are the true idealization of the American Dream. From the Great Gatsby to the roaring twenties all they way up to modern times people look up to the American Dream for inspiration and try to make it their own. Greed and love may have corrupted the dream for Gatsby, though it is just human nature to want more than what you have and that is the true corruption Fitzgerald has shown his readers.