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In The Great Gatsby, what does F. Scott Fitzgerald suggest about the state of the...

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snafees | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:54 AM via web

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In The Great Gatsby, what does F. Scott Fitzgerald suggest about the state of the American Dream in terms of the impact of its pursuit?  Use the depictions offered in the work as support.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 10, 2013 at 1:15 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that Fitzgerald is suggesting that the American Dream can easily become something of nightmarish proportions.  Fitzgerald recognizes the fundamental beauty of the American Dream.  Yet, he also understands clearly that dreams that are predicated upon selfish interests and interests that have little else other than narcissistic constructions can result in pursuits that destroy others.  These dreams can even destroy the dreams.  For Fitzgerald, the condition of life featured in his novel is one in which individuals are more driven by their own dreams of self- interest and narcissism.  People like the Buchanans know only of their own satisfaction in the pursuit of their dreams.  Jordan Baker is amoral in her pursuit of what brings her happiness.  Meyer Wolfsheim is a criminal.  Myrtle Wilson is an example of someone who dreams of better things for herself, but cannot see that she is forever the tool of others' manipulation.  While Gatsby, himself, is selfless in his dreams, his dreams, too, are shallow.  They fail to embrace any significant notion of social maintenance or move past his own condition of self. For Fitzgerald, the state of the American Dream is one of eventual pain and hurt when it is geared towards sole self- satisfaction.  It is here where the American Dream becomes more of a nightmare.

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