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Great Gatsby Essay Examples

For centuries, men and women from all over the world have
seen in America a place where they could realize their dreams. We each
dream our own American Dream. For some it is a vision of material prosperity,
for others it can be a feeling of secure and safe. It can be the dream of
setting goals. It can be about social justice, as Martin Luther King Jr. gave
the speech of I have a dream, says In spite of the difficulties and
frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in
the American Dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and
live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident:
that all men are created equal. We believe in the American Dream because it
does not fit with any temporary contentedness, rather it brings us the power for
improvement and equality. However, why does the American Dream still fall? The

Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is considered as the representative of the
decline of the American Dream, can give us some ideas of what it is about. The

Great Gatsby describes the failure of American Dream, from the point of view
that American political ideas conflict with actual conditions that exist. For
whereas American democracy is based on the idea of equality among people, the
truth is that social discrimination still exists and divisions among the classes
cannot be overcome. Myrtle Wilson’s attempt to break into the Buchanans fails at
last. She struggles herself to fit into an upper social group, pretends to be
rich and scorns people from her own class. She does all these because she wants
to find a place for herself in Tom Buchanan’s class but she does not succeed in
doing so. Nearly all the characters in the story are materialistic and this
included Fitzgerald himself. Fitzgerald mirrored his nation’s new attitude
toward money: he was considerably more interested in making and spending it than
in accumulating it. This is exactly what Tom and Daisy Buchanans are behaving.

The roaring twenties is immortalized as a time of entertainment of a glamorous
movie stars and singers, high fashion, leisure activities, numerous radio shows
and parties. In “Highlight of American Literature”, Dean Curry writes:
“The Great Gatsby reflects Fitzgerald’s deeper knowledge, his recognition
that wanting to be happy does not insure one’s being so and that pursuit of
entertainment may only cover a lot of pain.(182) Popular culture thrived in
this decade because of the need to escape. People wanted fun and absorbing kinds
of things to take their minds off the bleak world they saw around them.

Basically, this dream world for most people, is to get lost when problems are
getting too big to handle. Fantasies serve a foundation for all those who do not
want to face the pressures of living in a modern world. Benjamin Franklin
believed that the only way to true wealth was through hard work. He also
believed very strongly, that all people were created equal and had the same
opportunities available to them to achieve the American Dream. However, for our
central character, Jay Gatsby, this is not quite true. Gatsby tries very hard to
transform himself from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby, an Oxford man. He wants
to erase his history but in the other side, he wants to repeat the past.

He attempts to delete his past record because he does not want to involve in
poverty anymore. However, on the other hand he longs for the past because in the
past, he had a love affair with Daisy. He knows that he could not marry her
because they are of different social class. He leaves her and achieves his

American Dream. Once he becomes rich, he moves to the opposite bay to Daisy’s
house just want to be near to Daisy. He holds extravagant parties, hoping he
could see her one day. He, himself, does not attend his parties but watches them
from a distance. Gatsby’s American Dream is not material possession. He only
comes into riches so that he can fulfil his true American Dream, Daisy. However,
he fails to make his dream to come true in the end. The failure of the American

Dream is unavoidable, for reality cannot keep up with ideals, but also because
the ideals are in any case usually too fantastic to be realized. The American

Dream also criticizes that it is also time for idealists to wake up to reality.

When the crash of October 1929 ended the biggest speculative binge in the nation’s
history, it brought the roaring twenties to a close. The thirties, remembered as
the decade of economic depression, poverty and unemployment, is also the time
our story “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams takes place.

Williams presents us a story in The Glass Menagerie with four characters who
seem to avoid reality more than facing it. The four Wingfields, including the
father, who abandoned his family to join the merchant marine years before, are
all mashed by poverty and personal problems. Amanda has had to bring up two
children alone. Tom’s shoe-warehouse job supports the whole family. Laura has
been so perplexed by a leg-brace throughout high school that she can neither
endure secretarial school nor flirt with boys. And she is truly terrified by the
world outside that she believes it can never include her. The play deals with
issues and emotions that practically everyone has had to face: Freedom towards
the burden of responsibility; love to the family towards the need to live your
own life. Tom longs to leave home and make his own adventures. He hates his job
in the warehouse and spends most of his time working on poetry and escapes into
movies. Tom and Laura have a close relationship. He cannot leave like his father
without regrets because he is too devoted to Laura, who has been crippled both
by physical disfigurement and her own extreme shyness. Laura is very shy and
does not want to be involved with the world outside of their apartment. She
collects tiny glass animals, and she treasures them more than actually
participating in daily contact with the public. She is like a wounded animal,
mirrors her own fears of failure. Amanda, an erstwhile Southern belle, clings to
the past, as she constantly reminds Tom and Laura of her seventeen gentlemen
callers. Though Amanda often retreats to memories of her past, she worries of
the present situation. She insists Tom should find Laura a husband before he
abandons them, fearing that Laura will wind up to be an gold maid. Although her
own marriage brought her nothing but poverty, still she believes a husband can
be salvable for Laura. In the story, we can see that the American Dream does not
exist – Jim tries but the Wingfields have almost given up on their lives. They
avoid reality and are so involved in their illusory world that they have no time
to work on their goals. In the end, it appears that Laura is finally overcoming
her shyness, but as she knows Jim is engaged, she returns back to her Victrola
which is also the symbol of her fantasy world. Tom determines to leave but he
sticks too much to the past memory, especially his memories with Laura. Jim is
the only one in the story that faces reality. He believes in himself. He knows
that as he works hard, one day he will achieve great success. He said,
“Being disappointed is one thing and being discouraged is another. I am
disappointed but I’m not discouraged.” (116). The Glass Menagerie is simple
on its surface it tells a single incident in the life of a small family. It has
no heroic characters like what we see in The Great Gatsby. The poorly born
characters in The Great Gatsby, such as James Gatz and Myrtle Wilson desire to
change and to go away from the valley of ashes. Gatsby’s dream comes from
his past and he will sacrifice everything just for the accomplishment of his
goals, while Amanda, Laura and Tom are just too obsessed to their past events.

Maybe we can conclude the decline of the American Dream by what Fitzgerald said
in his late life, France was a land, England a people, but America, having about
it still the quality of that idea, was harder to utter it was the graves at

Shiloh and the tired, drawn, nervous faces of its great men, and the country
boys dying in the Argonne for a phrase that was empty before their bodies
withered. It was a willingness of the heart.

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