The American Dream is an idealism born out of the earliest settlers of this country. These people strives for discovery and individualism, and embarked on the pursuit of happiness, in which a healthy homestead with a steady career was the embodiment. However, this “dream” experienced a shift in the early 20th century after the conclusion of World War One. F.
Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby, placed in the post-war early asses, depicts this shift from an American Dream based on moral values and the will to survive and succeed to an America where crumbling social and moral etiquette transform the dream into a contest for wealth and decadence. It has become a race to gain perpetual riches which Fitzgerald argues is sinful among the American population- that one’s yearning for riches has an awesomely negative effect on society because the people are now more worried with acquiring capital and gaining social status lose sight of what is important in making this country strong and successful.
Perhaps the most famous description of the greed experienced in society during the asses comes from The Bible, in which it dates “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (Timothy 6:10)” This new generation embodies this verse in the fact that their “craving” for money has caused them to drift away from the original values that built this country and carried it through the well-mannered society of the Victorian age to where they now participate in a disengagement from what is morally right.
The American Dream, as a result of the asses, has died. Fitzgerald was born in 1896 in SST. Paul, Minnesota but spent most of his childhood in the Syracuse and Buffalo, New York area. Raised into an Irish Catholic family, he wrote The Great Gatsby and published it in 1925. Many of the events in the life of Fitzgerald make an appearance or a contribution in the novel. He enlisted in the army in 1917 as WWW neared its end, much as Nick does in the novel. He also became engaged to Zelda Assayer, but had their wedding delayed because she required a husband with wealth and fame of which Fitzgerald did not have – yet.
The Great Gatsby itself tells a story of the pathway to the American Dream. How the spoils of hard work can be earned and the effect of the ideology of greed can have on a group of people in society. The author paints a picture of the flaws of the sass’s generation and fails to stray from the overarching message that the American dream has died. The asses that Fitzgerald represents in the novel are portrayed as a decade of greed and declining social and moral values in America and especially on the east coast. This newly anti-aristocratic America developed in the time after the conclusion of WWW in 1918.
Men returning from the war were intensely disillusioned, having Just dinettes the worst carnage that and ever been experienced. Upon returning home, (victorious I might add), following the social morality codes of the earlier 20th century Victorian period seemed impossible. This generation became a materialistic people more interested in engaging in wild parties and this new “Jazz” music born out of the African American population in Harlem than following the social template enacted by generations before them.
This attitude possessed by the majority of American people after WWW was Just one ingredient of the asses that contributed to the death of the American dream. It is this decadence that is represented by Fitzgerald throughout the novel through his writing style. Nick at one point describes Gatsby house parties that represent the spoils of the American dream. “There was music from my neighbor’s house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.
At high tide in the afternoon I watched his guests diving from the tower of his raft, or taking the sun on the hot sand of his beach while his two motor-boats slit the waters of the Sound, drawing aquaplanes over cataracts of foam. On week-ends his Rolls- Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city between nine in the morning and long past midnight, while his station wagon scampered like a brisk yellow bug to meet all trains. And on Mondays eight servants, including an extra gardener, toiled all day with mops and scrubbing-brushes and hammers and garden- shears, repairing the ravages of the night before…
At least once a fortnight a corps of caterers came down with several hundred feet of canvas and enough colored lights to make a Christmas tree of Gatsby enormous garden. On buffet tables, garnished tit glistening hors-d’oeuvre, spiced baked hams crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold. In the main hall a bar with a real brass rail was set up, and stocked with gins and liquors and with cordials so long forgotten that most of his female guests were too young to know one from another. (Chapter 3). One can see that Gatsby parties exemplify the spoils of greed. It is in this description of decadence that you see the contribution that Fitzgerald writing style makes. He takes you on a Journey with each sentence, packed with imagery that allows the reader ample opportunity for visualization. Each paragraph is a promenade, wading easily through the day and into the night, providing details of the great time of leisure during the period.
This mirrors the asses in itself in that it was a time when the American people were more concerned about having fun and becoming rich that they were at bettering their moral selves. It is fitting that Fitzgerald is using a leisurely style of writing in penning a novel depicting the death of the American dream, further supporting the argument that the asses is the reason for the death of the dream altogether. A massive increase in the wealth of America was made possible by the boom created by WWW. The United States sold guns, food, and other goods to the Europeans with virtually no competition.
This combined with the new wave of consumerism and the plunging into the age of the automobile had an equally large effect on the stock market. It rose exponentially in the decade leading to a huge increase in national wealth and a paralleled rise in per capita wealth, increasing the accessibility people had to leisure and exuberant parties such as the ones hosted by Gatsby at his mansion in the novel. Out to this unwound money came the death to the original American Dream. It was now the goal only to become rich and spend your wealth on making sure everyone was aware of your economic standing.
The decade became a time of incredible greed in which money-hungry people aimed at working less and earning more – being made possible by the fact that putting Just any money in the stock market, no matter what the stock, called for reliable double-digit returns. Fitzgerald here shows that the American Dream has fallen into the hands of a generation that is simply too immersed with living a life of leisure so that they have lost sight of the true American Dream of individuality and discovery. This new generation of wealth caused a schism between new money and old money.
This schism is represented in The Great Gatsby through various mediums, one being the geography of the novel. Simply, the West Egg neighborhood represents new money: the speculators, the newfound decadence, and those who benefited from the post-war economic boom while the East Egg neighborhood represents old money: the aristocracy, the descendants of colonial money makers, and those opposed to this new age of social decay and leisurely lifestyle. Fitzgerald invites the reader into this schism from an early point in the story, when Nick and Tom Buchanan, a resident of the East Egg neighborhood, are having a conversation before dinner.
Tom says “Vive got a nice place here,” his eyes flashing about restlessly. Turning me around by one arm, he moved a broad flat hand along the front vista, including in its sweep a sunken Italian garden, a half acre of deep, pungent roses, and a snub-nosed motor-boat that bumped the tide offshore. “let belonged to Demeaned, the oil man. ” (Chapter 1). In the fact that the East Egg residence had belonged to an oil man who made his fortune decades ago, Fitzgerald exemplifies the neighborhood housed those of old money and opposed to the new generation of society so concerned with only the spoils rather than the effort of hard work.
This fight between old and new can further be seen in the feud between Gatsby and Tom Buchanan in an attempt intimate to win over Tom’s wife Daisy. Daisy represents the American Dream in herself as Tom (the aristocracy) is fighting to keep hold of the original American Dream. Gatsby represents the new generation trying to steal the dream away. Daisy loves both Tom and Gatsby at one point, rendering them both longing for her future love.
This shows that before WWW, every generation of society was able to become successful in their pursuit of happiness whether or not wealth played a role because of the aristocratic relationship with the American Dream. Throughout the novel, Fitzgerald doesn’t allow Gatsby or Tom to become lovers with Daisy at any point representing the death of the American Dream – unable to be saved by the aristocracy or adopted by the disillusioned new generation of wealth. This would cause an unsustainable condition for living and eventually a fairly famous crash” at the end of the decade.
It is obvious that Fitzgerald wants the reader to understand his message that the American dream is dead through his repetition of the theme evident in his writing. Another example is seen in the situation of Mr.. Wilson. He owns a garage before Gatsby moves into the neighborhood – symbolizing the hard work of the previous American generation to make a modest living and employ oneself for the betterment of community and country. His garage, however, is located in the Valley of Ashes – perhaps the resting place to the ruins to the new society; where the American dream as come to die.
This sets up an interesting Juxtaposition in The Great Gatsby. Tom Buchanan is cheating on Daisy (the future of the American Dream) with Mr.. Willow’s wife who represents the reward for working to fulfill the American Dream of the previous generations. Daisy kills Mrs.. Wilson (by accident) representing the future of the American Dream killing the past result of the American Dream – a passing of the torch if you will. Infuriated, Mr.. Wilson abandons his established work in which he practiced individuality and self-employment to kill Gatsby (who he thought was at fault for killing his wife).
When he is successful in doing so, he is effectively striking down the new generation of wealth in the name of them displacing what the American Dream has meant for so long. It is a scenario in which no one ends up in a favorable position. The American Dream has no future, rendering it dead. This death of the American Dream came to fruition in the asses with the onset of the Great Depression – effectively “predicted” by Fitzgerald through the delivery of The Great Gatsby as he explains the position that society finds itself in resulting from the decade of the asses based on the feuding generations and the collapse of social ND moral values.
From a bystanders’ point of view, the asses resembled a time of ongoing leisure and frequent economic prosperity and consumption. This is much like the time of “Bread and Circuses” in Ancient Rome. While society was at ease on the outside, in reality massive problems were brewing. The parallel drawn between the two time periods occurs when examining the result of history playing out. Ancient Rome fell under its own economic weight, much like the asses, into ruin. The “Roaring Twenties” quite literally crashed into the asses – a decade characterized by The Great Depression in which one man in four was unemployed.
This result exemplified the reason that greed and a thirst for wealth as well as a leisure based lifestyle in which hard work came second to enjoying oneself becomes an ominous combination. In the decades before the asses, the American Dream was alive with the spirit of individuality and discovery. You were rewarded based on how hard you were willing to work to make a name for yourself and your family. It is because of events such as the economic boom experienced after WWW and the switch to a leisure based lifestyle by the generation living in the ass that the American Dream has died.