Which Characters in The Great Gatsby archive the american dream? and how?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The answer seems easy enough, but it's tricky.

You can make a case that all of the characters, except George Wilson, achieve the American Dream if you define the dream as a socio-economic one.  Tom and Daisy certainly have a nice house and cars; they don't even need jobs.  But are they happy?  I doubt it.

Myrtle Wilson achieves the dream.  She jumps socio-economic classes, going from the Valley of Ashes to an apartment in New York City.  But she has to cheat on her husband to so.  Is she happy?  I doubt it.

Jordan achieves it.  She's an unflappable flapper, a modern woman, an athlete no less.  She's on the cover of magazines.  But she has to cheat to win.  Is she happy?  I doubt it.

Gatsby achieves it.  He goes from rags to riches.  He travels the world, lives in a mansion, throws elaborate parties.  But he has to swindle his way to the top, selling booze and stolen securities to do so.  And he gets murdered in the end, never finding love.  Is he happy?  I doubt it.

Nick attaches himself to Gatsby.  He moves out East in search of a better way of life.  He was taught to reserve all moral judgement, but he's addicted to gossip and trysts.  He's a kind of hypocrite who respects Gatsby for his idealism because Nick has no real desires of his own.  Was he happy?  I doubt it.  He moves back to the Midwest.

So, if the American Dream is a materialistic one, Fitzgerald says that it can be achieved, but for all the wrong reasons.  Was he ever happy?  I doubt it.  He moved to France.

"Drunk at 20. Wrecked at 30. Dead at 40." -- F. Scott Fitzgerald.

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The Great Gatsby

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