What is the plot in The Great Gatsby and how does it affect the theme of the American dream being destroyed?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The focal point of Fitzgerald's work is the animating and yet destructive force of the American Dream.  The self made exploits of Gatsby are driven by the pursuit of an external goal.  Gatsby's hope to win Daisy and assimilate himself into the wealthy circle helps to drive him, and in the process illuminates much of what Fitzgerald saw in "The Jazz Age."  The emptiness and hollowness of externally driven pursuits helped to bring out the idea that the American Dream which is predicated solely upon material success, the trappings of wealth, and the advancement in social circles can be quite seductive, but ultimately will prove to be fruitless and without meaning.  Through Gatsby's narrative and Nick's depiction of it, this is revealed in stark manner.

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Great Gastby is a love story.  What drove Gatsby was his love for Daisy and all the activities he pushed himself to do were for one end -- to be accepted by her. His accumulation of wealth was not for any other sake than to attract her.  Like a tragic love story, however, his love is not requited by her, but he kept attempting to change that.

The story, so associated with the Jazz Age, has elements that are applicable to our and to any time.  In the context of the story, however, the pursuit of the American Dream was not about amassing wealth; it was about love.  The examples in the work that express the American Dream, or having "made" it, notably Tom and Daisy, are not heroes, are not virtuous; in fact, are quite the opposite.

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The Great Gatsby

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