How do Jay Gatsby and George Wilson represent the corruption of the American dream?

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The American Dream can be loosely defined as a desire to succeed regardless of past circumstance. For example, if a man from a poor family is able to escape that situation and achieve economic wealth, then that man would be said to have achieved the American Dream. In Gatsby 's...

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The American Dream can be loosely defined as a desire to succeed regardless of past circumstance. For example, if a man from a poor family is able to escape that situation and achieve economic wealth, then that man would be said to have achieved the American Dream. In Gatsby's case, he came from a poor family, joined the army, and met Daisy, with whom he fell in love. After being forced to leave Daisy, Gatsby amassed a vast personal fortune with which he attempted to win Daisy's love. Daisy, then, could be interpreted as representing the American Dream because she is something that Gatsby strives for and something that he believes he can attain despite his poor economic background. However, Gatsby's idealization of Daisy proves to be his downfall, for his pursuit of Daisy results in the death of Wilson's wife, Myrtle. Wilson murders Gatsby out of anger, and it could be interpreted that Wilson's anger does not come from his love for his wife, but from his possessiveness of her. In other words, Wilson could consider his wife a possession that he has a right to due to his relative monetary success. This idea is supported within the text when Wilson locks his wife away after suspecting her of cheating on him. This depersonalized reaction could lead one to believe that Wilson considers his wife a commodity, thinking of her as a possession to be attained and guarded, much like the material possessions that are supposed to be attained in pursuit of the American Dream. So Gatsby and Wilson represent the corruption of the American Dream because they have turned Daisy and Myrtle, respectively, into ideals that they seek to attain and this dehumanization of the women ultimately results in the deaths of both men. 

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