Compare American Dream in the 1920s in The Great Gatsby to today.

The American Dream in the 1920s and today is quite similar. It includes both achieving wealth and turning back the clock to an imagined perfect time in the past, just as Gatsby did in The Great Gatsby.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The American Dream of today is probably more similar to what it was in the 1920s than any time since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The American Dream in The Great Gatsby is depicted as the opportunity for any person to start over in a fresh new place and realize their dreams. These dreams include achieving wealth and success, as well as finding love and fulfillment. They involve being able to set back the clock as if the past could be erased and everything started over on a better footing. This dream fills the hearts of the sailors who first see America, which seems untainted to them by corrupt civilization, and it fills Gatsby's heart with the desire to erase the five years he and Daisy have been separated.

The American Dream is most like this today because we have gone back to a moment when entrenched wealth makes it more difficult than it has been at any time since the 1920s for a poor young man like Gatsby to get ahead or get access to upper-class society. Like then, illegal means, such as those which Gatsby pursues, can feel today as if they are one of the few avenues open. Second, we live in a moment of intense, nostalgic desire, at least for a large portion of the population, to turn the clock back to an imagined, Edenic past.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial