How is the American Dream a trap in Netherland by Joseph O'neil and The Great Gatsby by Scott F.Fitzgerald? The sub-focus is identity.

In Netherland and The Great Gatsby, the two key characters, Jay Gatsby and Chuck Ramkissoon, demonstrate that the American dream is a trap by leading compelling lives that belie their deception and criminality. The contrast connects to the notion that the American dream harms or kills those who try to realize it.

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In Joseph O’Neill’s recent novel and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, the American dream comes off as ultimately artificial, unrealizable, or, as the question puts it, “a trap.”

The trap of the American dream is symbolized in the two central characters of each work: Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby ...

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In Joseph O’Neill’s recent novel and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, the American dream comes off as ultimately artificial, unrealizable, or, as the question puts it, “a trap.”

The trap of the American dream is symbolized in the two central characters of each work: Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby and Chuck Ramkissoon in Netherland. Ramkissoon’s maxim, “think fantastic,” can be evinced in Gatsby’s fabulous parties and glamorous lifestyle. The saying also reflects how both men uphold the idea that America is an amazing country where great, extravagant things can happen.

Of course, on the outside, America might seem like a glittering, shiny country. Gatsby and Ramkissoon, as representatives of this kind of gilded America, are not without their surface charms. Their charismatic, fast-paced lifestyles enchant many people, including the more milquetoast narrators, Hans van den Broek and Nick Carraway.

Yet when one looks a little closer, what they find is a lifestyle built upon underhanded, criminal activities. Gatsby’s American dream derives from organized crime. Meanwhile, Ramkissoon’s American dream centers on a questionable gambling enterprise. In both cases, the American dream is less of a dream and more of a grift, a delusion, or a trap.

The trap component of the American dream becomes clear because all of the constant activity doesn’t bring Gatsby or Ramkissoon fulfillment. Gatsby never gets Daisy, and Ramkissoon never realizes his formidable cricket team. Both characters end up dead. Perhaps the authors kill their respective American dream representatives as a way to say that the American dream is dead or should have never been given life in the first place.

Then again, its death doesn’t appear to make it less appealing. Even with the American dream’s link to suspect antiheroes like Gatsby and Ramkissoon, it’s popularity has not seemed to wane. TV series like Succession and The Undoing continue to link the American dream to corrupt, cruel, and lethal individuals. Yet the success of Gatsby, Netherlands, and the aforementioned TV shows demonstrate that there remains something compelling about the transparent treachery of the American dream.

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