What is the "American Dream", as reflected in the novel "The Great Gatsby"?

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luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The "American Dream" as shown in the novel is that anyone, with enough drive and determination, can become whatever he wants.  The dream comes with the warning though, that corrupted desires can corrupt the dream.  Jay Gatsby wanted to rise above his humble beginnings and he knew he wanted this at an early age as evidenced by the notations in the book Jay's father brought with him to New York when Jay was killed.  Jay worked to amass the wealth that he had when he died and the reader gets the impression that, though the work might not all have been legal, it took lots of drive and effort.  Jay's dream becomes corrupted, though, when he met and fell in love with Daisy.  After that, his drive shifted a little to include in his urge to make money, to get Daisy.  He wasn't contented to just win over Daisy however.  He wanted the Daisy of five years ago - the Daisy he knew before she met and married Tom and gave birth to Pammy.  Jay wanted something impossible which was to erase five years of a person's life.  So, even though, Jay Gatsby did achieve great wealth and all the comforts and fun that comes with it, he never got what he wanted most from life and that was his Daisy of 1917.

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The Great Gatsby

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