The Fall Of Two Dreams (The Great

Gatsby) Essay, Research Paper In The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, many themes are enclosed; the most salient of these themes is related to the American Dream. The American Dream is based on the

Gatsby) Essay, Research Paper

In The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, many themes

are enclosed; the most salient of these themes is related

to the American Dream. The American Dream is based on the

idea that any person, no matter what they are, can become

successful in life by his or her hard work. The dream also

embodies the idea of a self-sufficient person, an

entrepreneur making it successful for themselves. The Great

Gatsby is about what happened to the American Dream during

the 1920s, an era when the dream had been corrupted by the

relentless pursuit of wealth. In this novel, the pursuit of

the American Dream and the pursuit of a romantic dream are

the ultimate causes of the downfall of the book?s title

character, Jay Gatsby.

Throughout the story, Jay Gatsby avoids telling the

truth of his hard, unglamorous childhood. He does this to

keep his superficial image of himself and to save himself

from the embarrassment of being in a state of poverty during

his youth. His parents were lazy and unsuccessful people

who worked on the farm, and because of this Gatsby never

really accepted them as his parents. Jay Gatsby?s real name

is James Gatz and he is from the very unexciting North

Dakota. He changed his name to Jay Gatsby when he was

seventeen years old, which was the beginning of his version

of the American Dream. In all realities Gatsby arose from

his Platonic view of himself, the idealistic self-view that

a seventeen year old boy has of himself (Fitzgerald 104).

Though concealed for most of the story, Gatsby?s

embarrassing childhood is a major source of determination in

his attempt to achieve the American Dream.

During Gatsby?s early adulthood, he joined the army. He

first met Daisy when he was at Camp Taylor and he and some

other officers stopped by her house. He initially loved

Daisy because of her extraordinary house and because many

other men had been with her already. One evening in

October, during 1917, Gatsby fell in love with Daisy Fay,

and in turn she fell in love with Gatsby. ?Daisy was the

first ?nice? girl that he had ever known? (Fitzgerald 155).

Their love was an uneasy one at first for Gatsby to

comprehend because he wasn?t rich by any standards and he

felt that he wasn?t worthy of Daisy?s affection, but his

uneasiness was uplifted when he and Daisy fell in love and

when he found out that Daisy knew a lot because he knew a

variety of things that she didn?t. Their month of love was

physically ended when Gatsby had to go to war, but their

emotional love never ended. As Gatsby performed brilliantly

throughout the war, they wrote each other frequently. Daisy

couldn?t understand why Gatsby couldn?t come home. She

wanted her love to be their with her, she needed some

assurance that she was doing the right thing. It didn?t

take long for Daisy to get over Jay because in the Spring of

1918 she fell in love with a rich, former All-American

college football player named Tom Buchanon. This broke Jay

Gatsby?s heart. His love for Daisy was a strong one and he

was determined to get her back. This first love with Daisy

had a great impact on his idea of one of the aspects of

achieving the American Dream.

Throughout the novel, the reader is mislead about how

Gatsby became wealthy. Gatsby claims on several different

occasions that he inherited his parents? immense fortune.

This is a story that Gatsby made up in order to keep his

self-image up by not letting people know about his

childhood. The truth is that Gatsby got rich by illegal

measures. He was friends with the notorious Meyer

Wolfsheim. Meyer Wolfsheim was the racketeer who supposedly

fixed the World Series of 1919. He was Gatsby?s connection

to organized crime, in which Gatsby became rich. Gatsby?s

true sources to richness were selling bootleg liquor in his

chain of drug stores and creating a giant business to get

rid of and sell stolen Liberty bonds (Mizener 188).

Gatsby?s methods of gaining wealth corrupt the morality of

the American Dream although they help him to achieve it.

It did not take long for Gatsby to attempt to win Daisy

back after he returned from the army. Jay Gatsby had this

romantic view of Daisy and himself together and happy

forever. He felt the best way to achieve this idea would be

for him to become at least as rich as Daisy?s husband Tom

Buchanon. He knows that the best ways for him to pry

Daisy?s affection away from Tom are gaining wealth and

gaining material possessions. Daisy is a shallow woman who

is easily overwhelmed by material items. Gatsby?s main way

to show off his wealth and material possessions were to

throw lavish parties. His parties featured the finest

drinks and live jazz bands. The parties were so huge that

Nick Carraway, Gatsby?s best friend and the narrator of the

book, alluded to them as the World?s Fair. Not only did the

parties fulfill Gatsby?s reasons for having them, but they

also showed his grand sense of pride that stemmed from his


Gatsby and Daisy are finally reunited by Nick at

Gatsby?s request. This is Gatsby?s second chance for him to

show off his wealth and to win Daisy back. Gatsby uses this

meeting to show Daisy what he has become through his

possessions (Way 103). Daisy is amazed when she experiences

the extravagance of Gatsby?s house. When Gatsby throws his

imported shirts all around the room, she begins to cry

because she realizes that she has missed out on so much of

Gatsby?s life. It is at this moment, when the dream that he

has strived for is right in front of him, that he realizes

that Daisy isn?t as perfect as he imagined her to be. This

is clearly evident to Nick who thinks that: ?There must have

been moments even that afternoon when Daisy fell short of

his dream- nor through her own fault, but because of the

colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her,

beyond everything.? (Fitzgerald Chapter 5) This is the

first point in the novel which shows that Gatsby?s dream can

never be fully achieved, yet it is also his dream being

achieved because he is finally back with Daisy again even

though she is still with Tom.

The beginning of the downfall of Gatsby?s dream occurs

when Tom suspects that Daisy is cheating on him with Gatsby.

His hypothesis is proven correct when he, Gatsby, Daisy,

Nick, and Jordan Baker, are at a hotel in New York holding a

conversation which breaks out into an argument. It is

during this argument that Tom finds out that Jay Gatsby and

Daisy have been in love for five years and that they have

never stopped loving each other. As Tom and Gatsby argue it

becomes evident that Daisy does not know which man she wants

to be with because she is in love with both of them because

both of them are rich. All Gatsby wanted was for Daisy to

tell Tom that she never loved him, but she could not do

that. She knew that it would be a lie if she said that so

she simply said to Gatsby, ?I did love him once- but I loved

you too.? This statement opens the well into which Gatsby?s

dream will eventually fall because it shows that Daisy is

not Gatsby?s woman alone

Tom begins the undermining of Gatsby?s idealist concept

of himself by making Gatsby realize that he isn?t what he

has made himself out to be. He makes Gatsby see that he

does not appear to people in the way that he thinks of

himself. Tom describes Gatsby as a ?bootlegger, cheap

swindler, and a crook.? These few comments shattered

Gatsby?s self-identity because of it?s fragileness (Way 99).

Tom washed all of the effort and determination that Gatsby

had put into becoming what he was and earning what he

received, even though his methods were illegal, with a few

minutes worth of speaking.

After the argument, Gatsby can feel a minor sense of

victory because Daisy refuses to speak to Tom and when they

are leaving, Daisy leaves with him. On the way back to the

suburbs, Gatsby allows Daisy to drive his car. While

driving, Daisy hits and kills Myrtle Wilson, the lady Tom is

having an affair with. Gatsby and Daisy keep on driving and

they act like nothing ever happened. Later that evening,

Nick learned from Gatsby that Daisy had been driving when

Myrtle was killed in the hit-and-run accident. Gatsby?s

love for Daisy causes him to be willing to take the blame if

the blame if the death was traced back to his car. If

Daisy?s love for Gatsby was based on true love, instead of

wealth and material items, then she would have stepped up

and confessed to her crime especially since she was riding

in Gatsby?s car and it could easily be assumed that he was

the killer. Daisy was not concerned with the well- being of

Gatsby and this is shown when she is back at home conversing

with her husband, over cold chicken and ale, instead of

worrying about what might happen to Gatsby. Gatsby, on the

other hand, worries that whole night about Daisy. He

worries that Tom might beat on Daisy when he gets home.

These things never happen but it is the fact that Gatsby was

concerned about her well- being and Daisy was not concerned

with Gatsby?s well- being that is important. She is just a

shallow person who does not know the meaning of the word

love. She is caught up in the times and in living the

moraless and careless lifestyle that she leads. She could

care less about what happens to anyone except for herself.

This whole situation proves that she is definitely not

deserving of the high pedestal that Gatsby has placed her on

(Internet 1). This is the greatest blow to his romantic

dream of him and Daisy being together forever because she

chooses Tom over Gatsby in a time of crisis. It shows that

the man that she truly wants to be with the most is the man

she is living with now. Gatsby realizes this and his life

begins to be pointless. This is his dream brought to

reality. The dream is completely dissipated and will knows

it will never be achieved.

It did not take long for George Wilson, Myrtle?s

husband, to trace the yellow car which killed his wife back

to Jay Gatsby. Because George Wilson wants revenge for his

wife?s death, and he believes it is Gatsby who killed his

wife, he goes to Gatsby?s estate and kills Gatsby and then

himself. This is the tragic end of Gatsby?s life. All of

his heroism, his rapid rise to the top, all brought to a

calamitous end because Daisy did not love him as much as he

loved her. Although Gatsby?s romantic dream was already

dead, his version of the American Dream was still alive and

beaming. He still had everything going for him; his youth,

money, and personality. Gatsby is morally superior to his

fellow East Eggers and Nick acknowledges this when he tells

Gatsby, ?You?re worth the whole damn bunch put together.

(Fitzgerald 162).? To have it all taken away for something

he had not even done was the greatest misfortune of the

entire novel.

Gatsby?s death is made even more saddening at his

funeral. Nick tried to make Gatsby?s funeral respectable

but only he, Gatsby?s father, and one of Gatsby?s

acquaintances attended the funeral. None of Gatsby?s

racketeering friends came, nor did the ?love? of his life,

Daisy. Nick truly cared about Jay Gatsby although nobody

else did. He exemplified what a true friend is and did what

only a friend would do for another friend. Daisy did not

seem to feel a tiny bit of sadness over Gatsby?s death.

This is shown in her not attending his funeral and instead

going away with Tom on a vacation.

?In the end, the most that can be said is that The Great

Gatsby is a dramatic affirmation in fictional terms of the

American spirit in the midst of an American world that

denies the soul (Bewley 46).? Gatsby?s strong desire for

wealth and Daisy, the American and romantic dream

respectively, prove to be the greatest reasons for his grave

downfall at the hands of a ruthless society.

Bewley, Marius. ?Scott Fitzgerald and the Collapse of the

American Dream.? Modern Critical Views: F. Scott

Fitzgerald. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House

Publishers, 1985: 32-45.

Mizener, Arthur. ?F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby.?

The American Novel: From James Fenimore Cooper to

William Faulkner. Ed. Wallace Stegner. New York:

Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, 1965: 180-191.

Scott Fitzgerald, Frances. The Great Gatsby. New York:

Macmillan Publishing Company, 1925.

?The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.? Online: School

Papers, Microsoft Network, November 19,1997.

Way, Brian. ?The Great Gatsby.? Modern Critical

Interpretations. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea

House Publishers, 1986: 87-105.