The American dream, as described by Martin Luther King Jr. , “… is a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. ” However, the American Dream may not be as it is glorified to be. In The Great Gatsby, Scott Fitzgerald shows that the American Dream is slowly falling to pieces as greed, selfishness, and a false sense of opportunity are becoming more and more prevalent within members of our society.
The first characteristic in many Americans that leads to the dissolution of the American Dream is greed. Fitzgerald makes this extremely evident with the greed associated with the relationship of Daisy to both Gatsby and Tom. When Daisy was young, she met and fell in love with Lieutenant Jay Gatsby, as Gatsby fell too into love. Although Gatsby was commissioned to go off to war, the couple swore their devotion to each other, as they would continue their relationship when he returned. However, soon after Gatsby left, Daisy married Tom, breaking her promise with Gatsby.
How could Daisy break such a strong relationship so quickly, when they truly loved each other? The answer is that overwhelming greed overcame her. The day before Daisy and Tom’s wedding, “he gave her a string of pearls valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars. ” Daisy had left a poor Gatsby, and a strong love, for a relatively shallow and rich marriage. Unfortunately, many Americans act similarly to Daisy, showing the lack of morals in American society. Another characteristic prevalent in many Americans, which shows the collapse of the American Dream, is selfishness.
Throughout the entire novel, Daisy acted with a firm disposition to put money and herself before true love and her family. The first example where Daisy puts money before her relationships with her two lovers occurs when Gatsby inquires whether Daisy would reciprocate her love for him. “‘I love you now – isn’t that enough? I can’t help what’s past. ‘ She began to sob helplessly. ‘I did love him once – but I loved you too. ‘” For Daisy, love changes over time. In this confession, she claimed that she initially loved only Gatsby.
As Gatsby left for war, she began to love Tom presumably due to his money (because all other evidence points out that their marriage was hollow). This was a very selfish act on the part of Daisy to choose money over true love When Daisy says this quote, she intends to get back with Gatsby, as her interest in Tom and his money are no more because now Gatsby has similar wealth. Daisy’s thoughts are nothing but selfish, because she is looking to get back together with Gatsby as if she had done nothing to lose his trust.
A third characteristic, which many Americans share, is the false sense of hope created through the falsified idea of an American Dream. Gatsby grew up a poor child, the son of farmers. In the encounter with Dan Cody, Gatsby attained great wealth, and fell in love with wealth and luxury. His exorbitant amount of money allowed him to be accepted by others, as he threw extravagant parties. However, these relationships were very superficial. As Gatsby had to figure out the hard way, even his great amount of wealth could not provide him with what he truly desired, the second chance at Daisy’s heart.
“That was it. I’d never understood before. It was full of money – that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it… high in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl” Gatsby originated as a poor kid, who worked hard to make a lot of money. However, his luck stopped with his wealth, as he would never quite be a member of the “old rich” society that Daisy was a part of. This was the ultimate destruction of Gatsby and his view of the American Dream. An unstated understanding of the ideal “American Dream” implies that a person can attain anything through hard work and determination.
Gatsby wants to believe that this American Dream will hold true in his life. He worked hard to attain his wealth and please Daisy, but to his disappointment, it was not enough to secure a happy future with Daisy. In conclusion, the American Dream, as defined by American society, is progressively falling apart as greed, selfishness, and falsified hopes are becoming more and more accepted by the members of our society. It is essential to be conscious that we are on the brink of slipping from our dream, and if we do not do something about it, we may put the future of the American people in jeopardy.