How does The Great Gatsby convey Fitzgerald's message about the American Dream in the 1920's?
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The hollowness that is conveyed in most of the characters seems to be one way that Fitzgerald conveys his thoughts about the Jazz Age and the 1920s. The development of characters' whose pursuits are selfish, at best, and misguided, at worst, helps to enhance this. The characters in the novel are not necessarily concerned about anything socially redemptive or anything that would broaden the reach of social institutions to ensure democratic progress. Rather, they are driven by their own desires and needs, as well as the accomplishment of individual dreams that do not extend outside the realm of the subjective. It is in this condition that the American Dream is corrupted in that it seeks only to enfranchise the subjective, never reaching outside to socially redemptive elements. Fitzgerald is arguing that the American Dream in this particular setting is more resembling a nightmare in that destruction, whether individual or social, seems to be the only absolute. There is a great deal of uncertainty around this vision for how the promises and possibilities of America will be recognized. The future of American society in the hands of a Jordan Baker or Tom Buchanan is a grave state indeed, evidence of where Fitzgerald sees the society of the 1920s America.
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