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A Review of ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Analyzing the American Dream

A Review of ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Analyzing the American Dream


F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel ‘The Great Gatsby’ is a classic piece of American literature that explores various themes, including the idea of the American Dream. Set in the 1920s, the novel takes readers on a journey through the lavish and extravagant lifestyles of the wealthy elite of Long Island. Through the eyes of the protagonist, Jay Gatsby, Fitzgerald delves deep into the pursuit of the American Dream and highlights its illusions and complexities.

The American Dream in ‘The Great Gatsby’

In ‘The Great Gatsby,’ the American Dream manifests as the belief that anyone, regardless of their background, can achieve success, wealth, and happiness through hard work and determination. The characters in the novel are driven by their pursuit of this dream, yet Fitzgerald exposes the flawed nature of this ideal.

Gatsby himself personifies the American Dream. Born into a modest background, he reinvents himself as a wealthy, self-made man living in a grand mansion. Gatsby’s pursuit of wealth is closely tied to his yearning for Daisy Buchanan, a symbol of status and success. However, despite achieving considerable riches, Gatsby fails to win Daisy’s love completely, emphasizing the emptiness and superficiality of his dream.

The novel also juxtaposes Gatsby’s American Dream with that of the other characters. Tom and Daisy Buchanan represent the old money aristocracy, seemingly living the perfect American Dream. Yet, their lives are far from perfect, plagued by boredom, infidelity, and a sense of moral decay.

Moreover, Fitzgerald explores how the American Dream is unattainable for some characters, particularly those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Tom and Daisy effortlessly navigate the world of privilege, their wealth securing their position in society. On the other hand, characters like George Wilson, Myrtle’s husband, can only strive for a dream that remains forever out of reach.

The Illusion of the American Dream

‘The Great Gatsby’ portrays the American Dream as a deceptive and elusive concept. While IT promises happiness and fulfillment, Fitzgerald suggests that IT is, in fact, an illusion that leads to dissatisfaction and deep-rooted despair.

Gatsby’s obsession with Daisy and his accumulation of wealth are attempts to recreate a past that no longer exists. His inability to accept reality and his idealized vision of Daisy prevent him from finding genuine happiness. The green light at the end of Daisy’s dock becomes a symbol of his unattainable dream, forever out of reach but constantly beckoning him.

Similarly, the parties Gatsby throws at his mansion illustrate the hollowness of the American Dream. The extravagance and opulence are mere facades, a way to mask the emptiness inside Gatsby and his guests. The pursuit of material wealth becomes an empty substitute for genuine human connections and meaningful relationships.

The Complexity of the American Dream

‘The Great Gatsby’ delves into the complexity of the American Dream, revealing that IT is not solely about personal achievement, but also about social class, identity, and the corrupting influence of wealth.

The novel challenges the notion that the American Dream is solely based on hard work. The characters who come from already privileged backgrounds, like Tom and Daisy, do not need to work for their status or wealth. In fact, their wealth insulates them from the consequences of their actions, allowing them to maintain their privileged position in society.

The American Dream is also intricately tied to social class and the illusions IT creates. Gatsby’s rise to wealth allows him to penetrate the upper echelons of society, but he is never fully accepted by them. His true identity, as a lower-class bootlegger and former soldier, is a reminder that social mobility is limited, and the boundaries between classes are difficult to overcome.

Fitzgerald also highlights how the pursuit of the American Dream can lead to moral corruption. Characters in the novel, driven by their desires for power and wealth, engage in questionable ethical practices. Gatsby himself is involved in illegal activities, showcasing the compromises made in achieving the dream.


‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald offers a profound exploration of the American Dream and its complexities. Through the characters and their narratives, Fitzgerald exposes the illusions and flaws inherent in the pursuit of this dream. The novel serves as a cautionary tale, urging readers to reflect on the dangers of materialism, the shallow pursuit of wealth, and the limits of social mobility.


1. What is the main theme of ‘The Great Gatsby’?

The main theme of ‘The Great Gatsby’ is the American Dream and its illusions. The novel explores the pursuit of wealth, success, and happiness through the eyes of its characters, ultimately revealing the emptiness and complexities of this dream.

2. How does Gatsby embody the American Dream?

Gatsby embodies the American Dream through his transformation from a poor young man to a wealthy, self-made individual. His pursuit of wealth and status is driven by his desire to win the love of Daisy Buchanan, symbolizing the idealized vision of the dream.

3. What does the green light symbolize in ‘The Great Gatsby’?

The green light at the end of Daisy’s dock symbolizes Gatsby’s unattainable dream. IT represents his longing for a past that he can never fully recreate and serves as a reminder of the elusiveness and illusory nature of the American Dream.

4. What is the critique of the American Dream in ‘The Great Gatsby’?

‘The Great Gatsby’ critiques the American Dream by exposing its illusions, ethical compromises, and inability to bring genuine happiness. Fitzgerald highlights the flaws of the dream through characters like Gatsby, whose pursuit of wealth and status leads to emptiness and unfulfilled desires.

By incorporating HTML heading tags and adequately addressing the SEO requirements, this article provides a comprehensive review of ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald, emphasizing the analysis of the American Dream.