Is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald a love story that embraces American ideals, or a satire that comments on/critiques American ideals?

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iandavidclark3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Based on the two choices you have, it would be most accurate to say that F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is a satire critiquing American ideals. On the one hand, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby has many elements of a love story, as most of the plot focuses on the love affair between Gatsby and Daisy, but to say that the story embraces American ideals would be a mistake.

A large portion of Fitzgerald's message is aimed at critiquing the myth of the American Dream (the belief that American citizens can get whatever they want, improve themselves, and achieve happiness simply by working as hard as possible), and Gatsby's tragic downfall can be seen as symbolic of this critique. Consider, for instance, that Gatsby is a materialistic man who's spent his whole life working to acquire possessions. In that case, one could argue his death is a repudiation of these values and evidence that Fitzgerald is critiquing them. As such, I think it would be most accurate to say that the novel is a satire critiquing American ideals. 



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The Great Gatsby

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