The Great Gatsby

The Fall of the American Dream

The figurative as well as literal death of Jay Gatsby in the novel The Great Gatsby symbolizes a conclusion to the principal theme of the novel. With the end of the life of Jay Gatsby comes the end of what Fitzgerald views as the ultimate American ideal: self-made success. The intense devotion Gatsby has towards his rebirth is evident by the plans set forth in Gatsby's teenage schedule, such as "Practice elocution, poise and how to attain it." Gatsby's death ironically comes about just as he sorrowfully floats in his pool, witnessing the "youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves" (157) come crashing down. The rhetorical devices employed in the above passage illustrate the demise of the American Dream, the central theme of The Great Gatsby.

"Gatsby shouldered the mattress and started for the pool. Once he stopped and shifted it a little, and the chauffeur asked him if he needed help, but he shook his head and in a moment disappeared among the yellowing trees," (169). Two details in this rather terse paragraph come to the reader's attention: first, Gatsby's decline for assistance in carrying the mattress to the pool; and second, the "yellowing trees."...

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