How does Fitzgerald present a distortion or corruption of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby? The American dream is the concept that, in America, any person can be successful as long as he or...

How does Fitzgerald present a distortion or corruption of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby?

The American dream is the concept that, in America, any person can be successful as long as he or she is prepared to work hard and use his/her natural gifts. With this said, can someone help me explain how the author in The Great Gatsby presents a distortion or corruption of this theme in the novel? 

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Jay Gatsby achieves success through cunning, deceit, and charm. He does not succeed through honest labor. In this way, Fitzgerald presents us with a character that succeeds in "self-improvement" regarding his financial position, but who represents a corruption of the values of honesty and hard work. 

Further, Gatsby is not a success story in terms of "pulling oneself up" in the traditional sense. This is true in the sense that Jay Gatsby is a creation, not an improved version of James Gatz. 

If this story was a traditional American success story, Gatz would have succeeded through determination and honesty to rise to the top. Instead, Gatz disappears, replaced by a fiction - Jay Gatsby. 

It is Gatsby who succeeds, not Gatz, not the young man of humble resolves and modest means. 

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