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While seen as a love story on the surface, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a cynical critique of the American Dream. Almost seeming pessimistic, Fitzgerald critiques the idea that through our meritocracy government, anyone who works hard enough can achieve the American Dream. When Gatsby’s story is uncovered, it is a peek into the reality that the “American Dream” may not be acquired through merits as often as the government intended.
The American Dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from, can be successful in America if they just put in enough work. In result of this work, the American Dream becomes the ownership of a house, a car, a job, and a family. Through placing so much value in possessions, even making them a goal in life, the “American Dream” can be viewed as a crooked attempt at motivating the lower class to keep the economy operational. People such as Myrtle and George Wilson in the novel represent people aiming towards the American Dream. While Myrtle chases Tom due to social class and money, George owns a business and is trying his best to make money. Myrtle who comes from a poor background, falls for Tom’s wealth and puts in her best efforts to fool those around her that she is just as wealthy. “I told that boy about the ice.” Myrtle raised her eyebrows in despair at the shiftlessness of the lower orders. “These people! You have to keep after them all the time.” She looked at me and laughed pointlessly…” (Fitzgerald 32) Myrtle acting like a snob doesn’t fool anyone, but only proves that she is a selfish, cheating woman using Toms wealth and social class to make her seem as if she has achieved the American Dream. This eventually leads to not only her death but the death of Gatsby and her husband as well. While Myrtle was off with Tom, George was still faithful, and a man of God. George is in the lower class but still tries everything he can to make money and follow the American Dream. Before Myrtle’s death, George tell her that she “can’t fool God,” and that “God sees everything,” (Fitzgerald 105) which reminds us that unlike the careless wealthy classes, the lower classes can’t just go get help and “back into money..” (Fitzgerald 136) George and Myrtle’s tragic deaths help critique the novels pessimistic views towards the American Dream. After all, it’s quite unfair how the couple ends up dead because they were each working to improve their class in society, while Tom and Daisy, who happen the be wealthy, both played tremendous parts in these deaths, don’t face any consequences.
The American Dream claims that class should be irrelevant and anyone can rise to the top, but what about Tom and Daisy who were born into wealth with America being practically at the feet. Many would think that what Tom and Daisy had what was the American Dream. They had the money, servants, and a child but though they had been living the “dream,” they had corrupted it. By Daisy refusing Gatsby, and by Tom helping to drag the Wilsons into their death, they seem to antagonize the dream. Tom and Daisy are constantly described as bored and careless, “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” (Fitzgerald 145) Daisy makes the statement, “What’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon? Cried Daisy, and the day after that, and the next thirty years?” (Fitzgerald 113) Because Daisy and Tom never had to work a day in their life, or work for their money, they could never feel the satisfaction or appreciation for everything they had. The American Dream is supposed to fulfill the lives of those who have achieved it, but Daisy and Tom had fallen short. Without the elements of self worth, hard work, and giving back to one’s society, one cannot fully achieve the American Dream. One has to earn it in order to be truly satisfied. Due to Daisy and Tom never fulfilling the American Dream because of constantly running from their responsibilities, these two characters are the best examples of the corruption that can take place in this famous dream.


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