How the American Dream is Unattainable

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“Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her; If you can bounce high, bounce for her too,” spoken by Thomas Parke D’Invilliers accentuates the extreme heights people will “Bounce for” something (In this case the American dream) that is unattainable. Scott Fitzgerald utilizes juxtaposition and symbolism to highlight how the American Dream dupes people into following the false and impossible dream that often promotes utter wealth and tranquility that is not able to be achieved because of societal issues.

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Fitzgerald utilizes Juxtaposition and symbolism to create a parallel for the past and the present, demonstrating how Gatsby chases the past, which is Daisy, and in present time he’s determined to obtain his dream of being with Daisy but he does not realize the low chances of his dream coming to life, as Nick says the past cannot always repeat itself, in which Gatsby responds by incredulously says “Can’t repeat the past?” This clearly shows his blond chasing of the past and because of this he chases the dream that is not obtainable because it should’ve been stuck in the past.

Symbolism that corroborates the idea of the past and present is that when he’s on the pursuit of Daisy, the Greenlights being the symbolism of the dream “Were humming out into the darkness” further accentuating the dream being dead and thus the following of the American Dream leads to less success because people end up trying to create false happiness with Dreams that they think will cause complete tranquility and prosperity, when in reality Gatsby tried this and was unsuccessful because he does not end up with the dream he was persistent in achieving. Gatsby is also the symbolism of the a rich wealthy man who’s very successful in America, but even after all this success and money he obtained he glorifies the American dream by imagining he can obtain one hundred percent happiness when he comes across Daisy, to his failure the audience to see that even the some of the most successful men cannot contain the American Dream simply because it is false, presenting the false idea that every citizen in America can achieve such a dream.

The symbolism of the green light is further stretched, as the color green usually is portrayed by money. The American Dream is mainly about money that will eventually lead to a grand amount of happiness. The “Death Car” that killed Mrs. Wilson was “Light Green” and the color of the car demonstrates the materialistic mindset of many people usually results in their demise, as Mrs. Wilson wanted to move for financial opportunity but when she gets into an argument with her husband she runs outside furious because she wants more money, resulting in the Dream and idea of money killing her off. To further corroborate, people like Gatsby had a dream to love and achieve complete happiness and Nick also moved for more opportunity, but because they were chasing Dreams that were false they ended up finding the opposite of happiness, as people would end up dying and losing either the dream or people they were fond of. Fitzgerald utilizes jey duction to demonstrate how complete happiness is false in the American Dream, as Daisy has so much money and so does Tom, but together “They weren’t happy,”  further extending the fallacy of the Dream so many people are fixed on.

All the materialistic achievements that Daisy and Tom have acquired and yet together they are never truly happy, thus accentuating the false sense of closure that is emulated by the success of being rich. Symbolism is a key factor for Fitzgerald, as he uses it again to further extend the false reality of the American Dream. The Symbolism of Gatsby’s memory of the “Old World” being “Warm” shows the connection that he tries to form to the present, but is unable to fully connect with Daisy. He is ultimately chasing the past in a miserable way trying to obtain happiness and tranquility but is unsuccessful because he continues to chase something that is proven to be unattainable time and time again. The diction of the “Old World” being “Warm” demonstrates his Nostalgia and his longing for his dream to rekindle and ignite, but in the end his is left with his cold body because of the reality of a cold world he is in.

After the death of Gatsby, on page 179, even with all the luxurious items he has in his house and the materialistic achievements he has obtained, his “house was still empty when I left” and with the “I” being Nick, he realizes the luxury does not define happiness and because of this chasing such luxury will not make you full.  Gatsby lived a rich life but still couldn’t maintain his mentality and thus broke down, making him sad because he wanted more than just money. He dreamed blindly and because of this he was not able to see the true effect of what the dream can do to not only the poor, but also the rich, as he continued to chase the past rather than progress forward and create, he decided to try and rebuild which the dream focuses on the rebuilding on one’s financial success rather than creating.

The false American Dream improsines one’s mind into following the dream with the history of American chains and leads people to the false hope of money that will later stem into the happiness of one. As a whole, people should be wary of such lies created and should follow what most aligns with them instead of being trapped in a cycle of everyone chasing the same dream that has gotten so many people to reach an abyss that they are unable to climb free out of. In continuation to the gold hat, gold is a heavy material that can hold people down from the dreams they try to “bounce for” meaning that you cannot reach such high dreams because you are still holding on desperately to the gold hat. In conclusion, the American Dream is a system to keep citizens in check, that same system deceives the people because the citizens do not realize how fake it truly is.

Works Cited

  1. Fitzgerald, F. (1950). The great Gatsby. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, pp.110.
  2. Fitzgerald, F. (1950). The great Gatsby. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, pp.137.
  3. Fitzgerald, F. (1950). The great Gatsby. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, pp. 145.
  4. Fitzgerald, F. (1950). The great Gatsby. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, pp.179.
  5. Fitzgerald, F. (1950). The great Gatsby. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, pp. 161.
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How The American Dream Is Unattainable. (2022, Mar 31). Retrieved from