Gatsby is caught up in the idea of the "American Dream." This is the concept that anyone, no matter how poor, has the opportunity to achieve prosperity and success if they work hard enough.
Born to poor farmers in North Dakota, Gatsby's childhood is marked by financial struggle. After meeting the "golden girl" Daisy Buchanan as a young man, he becomes obsessed with the idea of accumulating wealth, to prove himself worthy of her.
Motivated by a feeling of shame about his past and a desire to impress Daisy, Gatsby sets his sights high and eventually achieves a spectacular level of wealth through organized crime. When Gatsby is introduced at the beginning of the novel, he has everything we might associate with extreme affluence: a sprawling mansion, millions of dollars, and a top-of-the-range sports car to boot.
Despite all this, Gatsby still yearns for something else: his dream is much deeper than the materialistic accumulation of wealth. This is symbolized by the image of Gatsby reaching for the green light on Daisy's dock. On the one hand, he yearns for the acceptance of the affluent in East Egg, and on the other hand, he yearns for Daisy Buchanan.
Gatsby soon realizes that despite his financial success, he is still not respected and accepted by the upper-class social circles of East Egg. The likes of Tom Buchanan and Daisy were born into wealth, which is something Gatsby could never relate to. No matter what Gatsby does, or how much wealth he accumulates, he will never be respected and regarded in the same way as someone who has enjoyed affluence and privilege from birth.
Gatsby symbolically lives in West Egg, while East Egg (the home of old-money affluence) is an elusive, inaccessible place, always out of Gatsby's reach. As Gatsby reaches for the green light, he is also reaching for the social acceptance he will never be afforded. Appropriately, the light is green: the color of money.
As the green light sits at end of Daisy's dock, Gatsby's yearning also represents his desire for Daisy's admiration and affection, which is a crucial part of his dream. For Gatsby, Daisy represents a doorway into the upper-class community he has been excluded from.
Gatsby's dream has everything to do with social acceptance: he wants to be seen and respected by those in the upper-class circles and to distance himself from his impoverished upbringing. Although Gatsby has achieved the American Dream on all accounts, he still longs for something else. This represents the failure of money and wealth to give him what he truly longed for: love and acceptance, and respect.
Gatsby may have phenomenal wealth and all its trappings—a large mansion, a nice collection of shirts, the latest flashy sports car—but there are still some things in life that he doesn't have, and which money cannot buy.
For one thing, Gatsby craves social acceptance. It's not enough for him to be rich; he wants to be accepted by the old money elite of East Egg, thought of as an equal by them. But this will never happen, no matter how much wealth Jay accrues.
Money may count for a lot in this society, but blood still matters to the likes of Tom and Daisy Buchanan. In the rarefied, privileged world they inhabit, breeding counts. And the simple fact is that Gatsby just doesn't have such breeding, the social pedigree necessary to be accepted by the East Egg crowd. To them, he'll always be nothing more than a parvenu, a shameless social climber who's trying to buy his way into the elite.
This helps to explain why the other important element of Gatsby's dream will also never come true. Gatsby loves Daisy and wants to be with her. Although Daisy has been romantically involved with Gatsby, she's not about to leave her husband Tom despite his many infidelities.
When it comes down to it, Daisy is old money, and has no desire to come down in the world no matter how much wealth Jay has accrued, so Gatsby's dream is destined to remain just that: a dream.
In Fitzgerald's classic novel The Great Gatsby, Gatsby's dream is to actualize his vivid fantasy of becoming a member of the upper-class and marrying Daisy. Jay Gatsby grew up as James Gatz and was born to shiftless, poor North Dakota farmers. Despite his lower-class, humble upbringing, James Gatz possessed an enormous imagination and dreamt of climbing the social ladder to become an elite member of society. Once he met Dan Cody, James introduced himself as Jay Gatsby and transformed his identity. Eventually, Gatsby met and fell in love with Daisy Fay. Gatsby recognized that he could never marry Daisy because of her affluent upbringing and entered the bootlegging business to amass wealth when he returned from war.
After returning from overseas, Gatsby strived to attain his dream of becoming a wealthy aristocrat, completely transforming his identity, and winning Daisy's hand in marriage. Although Gatsby is able to attain the American Dream by becoming a successful, rich man, he falls short of reaching his ultimate goal, which is to win Daisy's heart. Gatsby is delusional and refuses to recognize the reality of Daisy's situation. He genuinely believes he can recreate the past and influence Daisy to leave her financially stable husband, Tom Buchanan. Tragically, Daisy has developed into a materialistic, shallow woman, who is primarily concerned about her social status and financial security. Once Daisy discovers that Gatsby is a bootlegger, she ends their affair and skips town with Tom.
Gatsby's dream is to make the lies and illusions he has created about himself a reality. His stories of a wealthy chilhood, war hero, Oxford graduate, honest businessman are nothing more than a series of disceptions all designed to lure Daisy back to him. Even Gatsby's relationship with Daisy suggests that he is living a dream by trying to relive the past. His actions are not only unrealistic they also serve to mask the saddest part of his life, lonliness. Jay Gatsby was willing to pay top dollar to promote his illusions as reality and in the end he paid the highest price of all.
Gatsby’s dream involves him meeting Daisy Buchannan again, hearing her renounce any feelings that she ever had for her husband, Tom, and for her to love and live with Gatsby for the rest of their lives. One of the themes of the novel is the achievement of the America Dream and this is Gatsby’s American Dream. We know from the many times that it is mentioned in the novel that Gatsby feared that Daisy did not wait for him because he was not rich; therefore, Gatsby creates a life for himself in which he has become almost more wealthy than Tom. Daisy is amazed by Gatsby’s wealth, mentioning once that it makes her cry. Although this is all Gatsby wanted – for Daisy to say that she never loved Tom – Daisy reveals in one of the ending chapters when the entire group gets together at the Biltmore in New York that she can not say that she never loved Tom. At this point, Gatsby’s dream comes crashing down and he knows that no matter what happens his dream will not come true and he dies thinking himself a failure.