Chapter1: Notice how many times Fitzgerald uses the words hope, or dream. Why does he do this?

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The success of Nick Carraway's narrative, though we do not know it as the novel opens, rests on his ability to convince us that Gatsby is a tragic hero, not a merely a low-class, opportunistic, criminal grifter, which is how Tom Buchanan sees him.

Carraway's compassion towards Gatsby's flaws, his sympathy for his hopes, and his lyrical prose elevate Gatsby to a figure of pathos and grandeur.

Gatsby's great strength and flaw is his capacity to hope and to dream. Gatsby's audacious hope and dream is nothing less than to turn back the clock and return to a more innocent, pristine time when he first fell in love with Daisy. Carraway connects this to the larger concept of the American Dream, the roots of which go back to when Europeans first saw what looked like a pristine, untouched continent and hoped to set the clock back and recreate paradise. Both Gatsby's dream and the American Dream might be fatally flawed, but Nick looks at both with a certain awed admiration. 

Like a lawyer laying out his case, Carraway from chapter 1 begins to establish his argument that Gatsby was a great man because of his capacity to hope and dream, a worthy individual brought down by petty people ("foul dust"):

it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short−winded elations of men. 

Nick uses the words hope and dream because they are integral to his sympathetic concept of Gatsby.

Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Concerning Fitzgerald's use of the words hope and dream in The Great Gatsby, one should be careful about trying to speak for the writer.  No one can say why Fitzgerald does anything in his novel.  We can only speak about the functions and results of what he does.  Communication is far too complex for you or me or anyone else to speak for the writer. 

That said, the words hope and dream do reveal the idea of the American Dream.  In addition to that, they reveal one of the aspects that make the novel beautiful:  Gatsby's love for Daisy.  His foolishness and naivete do not cancel out his dedication to Daisy and his capacity for hope.  This, after all, is what Nick likes so much about Gatsby:

...[Gatsby's] extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.

There's an early usage of one of your key words for you.


pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I believe that Fitzgerald does this to reinforce or introduce one of the main themes of the novel.  One of the major things that this novel is about is the American dream.  It is about people and their hopes and dreams of getting ahead.

The character of Gatsby is said to be representative of the American dream.  He is a man who is self-made, who has built himself up really without any help.

Because this is a major theme in the book, it makes sense that the author would use those words a lot to get the idea of hopes and dreams into the reader's mind.

thelearnerer | Student

One of the central themes of The Great Gatsby is the American dream. The American dream is the idea that anyone can truly be "self-made" and live their life chasing their aspirations. In the novel Nick is searching for the American dream, personified as the opulent Jay Gatsby, and begins his search in the first chapter when he moves to the elegant West Egg from the Midwest. Over the course of the novel it is revealed that many of the main characters are themselves searching for some form of this dream. Gatsby himself throws grandiose parties in the hope that his neighbor, and lost love, Daisy will take notice and the two can once again be together. Fitzgerald almost certainly repeats these words early on to serve as a foundation for the story in which all the characters have secret hopes and chase after some dream. Whether it is Nick hoping for a better life in New York, or Gatsby dreaming of a life with Daisy the themes of hope and dreams surface again and again throughout the novel.

Wiggin42 | Student

Fitzgerald upholds the American dream in his novels and short stories so its fitting that the words dream and hope act as motifs that repeat throughout the novel. Gatsby himself represents the American dream since he is a typical rags to riches success story. 

Fitzgerald's book mirrors the headiness, ambition, despair, and disillusionment of America in the 1920s: its ideals lost behind the trappings of class and material success.

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The Great Gatsby

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