In The Great Gatsby, what does F. Scott Fitzgerald suggest about the state of the American Dream, the people who pursue it, and the impact of that pursuit through his depiction of Jay Gatsby and the people in Gatsby’s life?

In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald suggests that achieving the American Dream is possible but that the price of success is too high. Those who begin life in a higher social status are likely to maintain that status, while few of those who climb the social ladder can hold on to their position. The main people in Gatsby’s life are Nick and Daisy; all three characters find contradictions between the material and emotional rewards associated with the American Dream.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald ’s novel shows the contradictions in pursuing and achieving the American Dream. Fitzgerald seems to support the idea that people should aim high and that people often succeed in achieving the American Dream. He also conveys, however, that there is often a very high cost associated with...

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F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel shows the contradictions in pursuing and achieving the American Dream. Fitzgerald seems to support the idea that people should aim high and that people often succeed in achieving the American Dream. He also conveys, however, that there is often a very high cost associated with success. The author presents birth, family, and heritage as important aspects of social class. In the novel, several characters were born into in a higher social status, and they are shown as maintaining that status. In contrast, others struggle to move up in the hierarchy ladder; those who reach a higher position are rarely able to hold onto it.

The novel’s main character, Jay Gatsby, exemplifies the rapid ascent from humble beginnings, and he descends even more quickly. The two people who are most important in his life, at least during the course of the novel, are Nick Carraway and Daisy Buchanan. Jay, Nick, and Daisy all have different attitudes toward the material and emotional benefits that the American Dream may bring.

Throughout the course of the novel, Nick gradually learns that Gatsby came from a poor, rural background. His tremendous wealth is a source of fascination to the people he hosts at his parties, whom he barely knows. Gatsby valued his money and material possessions because they might place him in the same status as Daisy, whom he desperately loved. Although Gatsby comes to appreciate Nick’s friendship, he also values Nick as the person who can connect him with Daisy.

Nick believed that his Wall Street job would bring him satisfaction as well as a good income, and he wanted to fulfill his family’s expectations. Because he also believed in love, he distanced himself from two women did not love: the woman he left in the Midwest and Jordan Baker. Nick’s convictions are so challenged by the summer’s events that he leaves his job and returns home.

Daisy was born and raised in wealth and married someone from the same world. Although she is a romantic who fell in love with Gatsby, she cannot fathom leaving the wealthy environment in which she was raised. She married Tom for security, not love. Nick describes the Buchanans as "careless people"; this attitude causes Daisy to flee to Europe rather than assume responsibility for the fatal accident she caused. Ultimately, Gatsby pays with his life for her actions.

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