The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby and the Decline of the American Dream

F. Scott Fitzgerald explores the decline of the American Dream in one of his most famous novels, The Great Gatsby. Although this book only takes place over a few months, it represents the entire time period of the 1920s, in which society, mainly on the East Coast, sees the decay of the American Dream. What once was the idea of hard work and prosperity becomes perverted idealism and pathetic optimism. In this novel, Gatsby and other characters represent the corrupt American Dream.

When Gatsby’s real past has been revealed, it seems as though he embodies the American Dream. Once a young fisherman and clam digger, he becomes a self-made wealthy man through hard work, despite being the son of unsuccessful parents. Nick states, “His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people- his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all” (104). The fact that Gatsby has achieved more than his parents is one definition of the American Dream. He also has a mentor, Dan Cody, who influences Gatsby at a young age. Cody himself is a self-made millionaire. As Nick explains, “Cody was fifty years old then, a product of the Nevada silver fields, of the Yukon, of every rush for metal since Seventy-five. The transactions in...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 720 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 4136 literature essays, 1393 sample college application essays, 167 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in