Explain how The Great Gatsby is a book about the American Dream.

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One of the predominant themes Fitzgerald explores throughout his classic novel The Great Gatsby concerns the American dream. The American dream is the commonly held belief that citizens from humble beginnings can climb the social ladder and amass wealth through hard work and determination. Amassing wealth and becoming a member of the upper class are the primary goals of the American dream. The narrator of the story initially strives to attain the American dream by moving to the East Coast and entering the bond business, while the protagonist of the story, Jay Gatsby, embodies the American dream. Jay Gatsby grew up poor in North Dakota before participating in World War I and transforming his identity. Gatsby then met Meyer Wolfsheim and amassed his wealth in the illegal bootlegging industry.

Outwardly, Gatsby is a success story and has managed to attain the American Dream. His lavish lifestyle and fabulous mansion in the West Egg are evidence of his success. However, Fitzgerald critiques the American dream by portraying Gatsby as an unfulfilled man whose wealth and status are not enough to win the true object of his affection, Daisy Buchanan. In addition to the fact that Gatsby's wealth does not make him happy, he was also forced to compromise his morals in order to attain the American dream.

Through his portrayal of Gatsby's unfulfilled dreams, lavish parties, and the reckless lifestyle of wealthy citizens like the Buchanans, Fitzgerald depicts the decline of the American dream, which has become corrupted by an unrestrained desire for wealth and pleasure. By the end of the summer, Nick moves back home and no longer wishes to amass wealth or live in opulence, which reflects Fitzgerald's views regarding the decay of social and moral values during the 1920s.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 6, 2019
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