The idea of the American Dream
The idea of the American Dream is shown greatly in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book The Great Gatsby. In the book, the idea of the dream is displayed through the amount of money you have; evidently, being the reason for the division between classes. The level of wealth each character possesses affects their outlook on life; this is demonstrated through Daisy’s and Tom’s lack of responsibility which is compensated by an exceptional fortune, Gatsby’s flaunting attitude coinciding with the idea of “new money”, and Myrtle’s jealous tendencies of being in a working class and striving to break free. The idea of the American Dream is shown greatly in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book The Great Gatsby. In the book, the idea of the dream is displayed through the amount of money you have; evidently, being the reason for the division between classes. The level of wealth each character possesses affects their outlook on life; this is demonstrated through Daisy’s and Tom’s lack of responsibility which is compensated by an exceptional fortune, Gatsby’s flaunting attitude coinciding with the idea of “new money”, and Myrtle’s jealous tendencies of being in a working class and striving to break free. To begin, Daisy’s and Tom’s extreme amount of wealth coincides with negligent actions. For instance, during the time Daisy and Gatsby were seeing each other, Daisy seems reckless with her feelings, even expressing her love for Gatsby in front of her husband. Yet, when it comes to making the decision between the two men she had been playing, Daisy responds to Gatsby, saying: “‘Oh, you want too much! I love you nowㅡ isn’t that enough. I can’t help what’s past. I did love him onceㅡ but I loved you too,’” (132). Portraying Daisy as someone who is incompetent on taking a stance on whom she wants to be with because having an ample amount of money means that she never had to pick. Proving that the people who come from a high-class lack the ability to make harsh decisions. One is also able to see the twos remiss ways after Gatsby’s death. They have no sympathy, especially with them being the cause of his death. Daisy, who had told Gatsby countless of times that she loved him, “hadn’t sent a message or a flower,” (174). This indicates how Daisy hides behind her riches by running away from New York, instead of facing her wrongdoings. With her representing the top class, she shows how they are more often to run away from their problems and forget about them than to admit to them. Lastly, with the death of Gatsby, Nick is able to see the true Daisy and Tom, describing them by saying: “They were careless people, Tom and Daisyㅡ They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made” (179). With Daisy’s own cousin realizing how seemingly terrible Daisy and Tom are due to their riches disabling them to admit their sins, he observes them living in their own bubble; unaware of the mayhem they have caused through their hurricane of irresponsibility. With the power of old money, which Daisy and Tom possess, comes with a thoughtlessness attitude since their money allowed them to never need to face their wrongs and deal with the consequences.Secondly, as the roaring 20’s boom with prosperity, the concept of “new money,” which Gatsby acquires, brings along this desire to broadcast their new found fortune. This is demonstrated through Gatsby’s iconic parties. Gatsby’s immaculate celebrations drawn people in “like moths among the whisperings and the champagne of stars” (39). People came to these gatherings due to the high expense that went into it, having a full orchestra, plenty of food at the buffet, dancers, and bright lights. With all the money going into these weekly parties, one is able to see how truly well-off Gatsby is and how he decides to publically parade his new found riches. As Gatsby representing the new prosperous class, allowing one to understand that this new grouping of people believe that having the money is not enough but allowing it to be shown off in order to see how great their life is. Also, it is clear that Gatsby only wants to broadcast his money when Daisy is invited to Nick’s house for a surprising reunion with Gatsby. “‘I have been glancing into some of the rooms’” Gatsby says, suggesting that he has never truly seen his whole house yet which proves that he only bought the house to flaunt his cash (81). This reveals how the “new money” follows the idea of conspicuous consumption, where they only buy secular items in order to display how much money they have and how more successful they are from others. As this contemporary perspective comes to light during this new era of prosperity, craving wants over needs becomes social normality which Gatsby represents. Gatsby’s attitude towards his riches represents the 1920s as the new concept, the American Dream, creates the idea of materialism to become a desire. Lastly, Myrtle’s lack of money signifies the essential working class in the book. Being Tom’s mistress in the book, Myrtle had a unique ability to get a small taste of money and soon yearn for it. As a gold digger, Myrtle soon developed a jealous tendency for Tom’s wife, Daisy. To Myrtle, Daisy was the reason why Tom and Myrtle could not be together, not seeing that Tom would never take her seriously because of her poor background. Her jealousy can be seen when Tom and she are arguing in their small apartment in the city over Daisy; Nick describing the account stating, “sometime towards midnight Tom Buchanan and Mrs. Wilson had any right to mention Daisy’s name,” (37). This resulted in Myrtle receiving a broken nose, seeming as if Tom had put her back in her place. Proving Myrtle has gluttonous feelings because it’s then when she recognized that Daisy has everything she wants, the riches and the man. With Myrtle representing the working class, the reader is able to understand that the working class wants the riches yet is not able to attain it. Mrs. Wilson is also envious over of Daisy because she sees how much money Tom has, and how he carelessly buys various trinkets. For her, Tom buys “a copy of Town Tattle and a moving-picture magazine, and in the station drug-store some cold cream and a small flask of perfume” (27). This quote represents the idea of conspicuous consumption, where Myrtle, who represents the working class, wants useless items to advertise how has money and isn’t as poor as she truly is. Fitzgerald displays the working class as putting on a facade; he has them masking their true identity with the small amount of money they receive. Eventually, her resentful attitude for Daisy is what kills Myrtle. When she sees Tom with Jordan Baker, whom she thought was Daisy, she becomes quite envious. So later when Gatsby and Daisy are driving the yellow car back, she rushes out in hopes to stop Tom and finally get out of the poor life that she lives. Her desire to get out of the Valley of Ashes hinders her from recognizing her blessings in life. In the Great Gatsby, the working class is constantly striving for a better life, thus allowing the gifts in their life to go unnoticed because it never seems good enough. Myrtle’s ambitious view on money embodies the working class of the 1920s, verifying that their jealous tendencies towards the higher class became a burden on their angle of life due to it never permitting them to see the benefits it holds. Overall, with a new division of social classes comes with a different outlook on the concept of money. Illustrated through Daisy and Tom incapability to take responsibility for their actions due to their riches allowing them to hide, Gatsby’s desire for materialistic expenses in order to broadcast his riches, and lastly Myrtle's envious greed for money which she cannot obtain. Through these characters, Fitzgerald represents the three main classes of society in the Jazz Age and how differently they act towards the idea of the American Dream.