American Dream and Money

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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The American dream means striving for success or wealth. But F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby interprets the American dream from a different perspective. He explains how people can interpret these ideas to fit their criteria or what suits them better. Fitzgerald uses characters such as Jay Gatsby who manipulates the Dream and is unable to tell the difference between his imaginary life of wealth from real life. This story explains how people’s desires for wealth and power can change their perspective, mindset, and how wealth can mislead people into making the wrong decisions.

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Jay Gatsby represents wealth, high status, and is an overall mystery. Nick Carraway begins to say based on his first impressions of him that there’s ‘something glorious’ about Gatsby, and that he is filled with ‘some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life'(8). Some people could say that Gatsby accomplishes the American dream of attaining fame and fortune he strived for, the American dream. But rather than being pleased with what he already has, Gatsby convinces himself that he can duplicate the ‘Platonic conception of himself’ (89) and turn into this person of great wealth he’s trying to portray. Yet, Gatsby grabs onto the idea of wealth alone, failing to see that he can develop himself from diligently putting in the effort and determination.

Individuals, like Gatsby, strive to attain a high social class through money but end up ultimately never finding true happiness. Studies have shown that, of 155 countries, accounting for over 95 percent of the world’s population, found no evidence that advances in income for the rich are met with diminishing increases in happiness. In the story, Daisy’s voice was depicted as, “ a promise of money,” which the American dream is connected to. Making Daisy also, the green light at the end of the Buchanan’s dock, a substitute for the American Dream. Daisy’s cousin, Nick, conveys the image of Daisy that she’s a “High in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl,” meaning that she’s precious. difficult to attain. But Daisy is only human that has a few flaws, she’s fickle minded and is unable to give Gatsby the fantasy Gatsby envisioned for the two of them.

Directing the thought of the American dream to be make-believe. Concluding that Daisy is Gatsby’s final destination or accomplishment, but at the same time, her actual life being incompatible to Gatsby’s idea of the American Dream. Daisy coming from the East egg, a side of people who have had a history of being wealthy, making her believe she wont be accountable for issues she’s caused, even if someone gets hurt. As a result, money has changed Tom and Daisy’s perspective making them believe that they’re of the best class and are, “untouchable”. ‘Don’t tell me, old sport.’ He exclaimed. ‘Anyhow-Daisy stepped on it. I tried to make her stop but she couldn’t, so I pulled the emergency brake. Then she fell over into my lap and I drove on’ (151).

The Buchanans, Tom and Daisy, never understood the idea of guilt since they believe that money can get them out of any conflict that arises. Tom’s behavior shows his absence of guilt when he didn’t display any reaction to Myrtle, his mistresses, and death. He only saw her as an object with no morals and value since she was from a lower class than him. He shows her off, uses her, and then puts her to the side just as he does with others that have no value to him. Tom’s money driven, and narrow-minded, mind convinces him that it’s permissible to cheat on Daisy. ‘ ‘That fellow had it coming to him. He threw dust in your eyes just like he did in Daisy’s, but he was a tough one. He ran over Myrtle like you’d run over a dog and never stopped his car,’ (187). Tom was already prepared to place all the blame on Gatsby and say that it was his car that killed Myrtle. Tom doesn’t acknowledge who is hurt as long as he’s not involved or it doesn’t affect his status.

The explanation for this is how wealth can affect a person’s perspective and behavior due to the idea that they’re at a higher class, due to his vast amount of wealth than everyone else. As I have shown consequently, money can change an individual’s way of interpreting different situations or ideologies. A quote that summarizes these ideas is, “Money doesn’t change men, it merely unmasks them.” This is shown from how Gatsby who wants to create a fantasy for himself and Daisy. He goes at great lengths even doing illegal actions to receive the wealth. Tom is another example, he doesn’t acknowledge anyone who is at a lower class of him and treats them poorly like he does to Myrtle.

Money can be beneficial or harmful; it depends on the individual and their intentions. Now, are your intentions good or bad?

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American Dream and Money. (2021, Jun 16). Retrieved from