How are the themes of dreams and honesty presented in The Great Gatsby?

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luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dreams is displayed in many ways in the novel.  The most prominent display is with the American Dream and its corruption.  The American Dream is that anyone, through hard work and determination, can rise from the most humble beginnings to greatness.  Jay Gatsby is the obvious example of that dream.  He knew at a young age, as evidenced by what he wrote in the book his father brings to Jay's funeral, that he wanted more than the poor farm life his parents had.  He worked to bring this dream to reality by reinventing himself, going from Jimmy Gatz to Jay Gatsby.  The corruption came when he fell in love with Daisy.  His goal then was to make enough money to win back Daisy, but not just to have her.  He wanted the Daisy he fell in love with before he went to war and before she married Tom and had Pammy.  Myrtle, too, has a dream of escaping her hard life in the valley of ashes.  She wants to live a life of luxury. When she explains that it was Tom's appearance that drew her to him, it's clear that she is shallow and doesn't want to earn her American Dream; she wants it given to her.  Honesty is also an issue throughout the novel.  It first appears in chapter 1, when Myrtle calls Tom.  Both Tom and Daisy pretend that it was not Tom's mistress calling him.  Myrtle's lies to George about what she's doing is another example.  Even Nick concludes at the end of ch. 3 that he is one of the few honest people.

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The Great Gatsby

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