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The American Dream in The Great Gatsby: Exploring Themes and Characters

The American Dream in The Great Gatsby: Exploring Themes and Characters

The American Dream in The Great Gatsby

Understanding the American Dream

The American Dream means different things to the characters in *The Great Gatsby*. The American Dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of social class or group, can attain success and happiness through hard work and determination.

Jay Gatsby and the American Dream

For Jay Gatsby, the American Dream represents power and wealth. He dedicates his life to amassing a fortune, believing that this will win him the love of Daisy Buchanan. However, Gatsby’s pursuit of the American Dream is marred by illegal activities and moral corruption.

The American Dream According to Nick Carraway

Nick Carraway offers a critical view of the American Dream. His observations reveal the disparity between the haves and the have-nots, as well as the impact of greed and ambition. Nick’s narration uncovers the dark side of the American Dream, suggesting that material success often comes at the expense of ethical values.

Daisy Buchanan and Luxury

For Daisy Buchanan, the American Dream means luxury and comfort. She embodies the allure of wealth but remains largely indifferent to the moral implications of her privileged lifestyle. Daisy’s character highlights the superficial aspects of the American Dream, where appearances often matter more than substance.

The Illusion of Control for George Wilson

George Wilson’s version of the American Dream is about control and stability. He dreams of a better life for himself and his wife, Myrtle Wilson. Sadly, his dreams are crushed under the weight of social and economic pressures, demonstrating the fragility of the American Dream for those without resources.

Myrtle Wilson’s Desire for Status

Similarly, Myrtle Wilson sees the American Dream as a path to luxury and social status. Her affair with Tom Buchanan is a desperate attempt to escape her lower-class existence. Yet, her tragic end serves as a stark reminder of the dangers in blindly pursuing wealth and status.

Quotes on the American Dream

The novel’s rich tapestry of quotes provides insights into the characters’ thoughts on the American Dream. Here are some noteworthy quotes:

  • “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” ~ Nick Carraway’s father, Chapter 1, Page 7
  • “Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.” ~ Nick Carraway, Chapter 1, Pages 7, 8
  • “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” ~ Nick Carraway, Chapter 9, Page 110

Exploring Themes of the American Dream

The novel illustrates that money cannot buy love or true happiness. The characters’ relentless pursuit of the American Dream leads to destruction and disappointment. Fitzgerald’s portrayal of the American Dream is a critique of materialism and excess.


In *The Great Gatsby*, F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the American Dream to explore themes of ambition, greed, and moral decay. By examining the different characters’ interpretations of the American Dream, we gain a deeper understanding of its complexities and inherent flaws. The novel ultimately shows that the American Dream, while alluring, is often an unattainable and destructive goal.

Character American Dream
Jay Gatsby Power and wealth
Nick Carraway Critique of materialism
Daisy Buchanan Luxury and comfort
George Wilson Control and stability
Myrtle Wilson Social status
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Sophia Bennett is a devoted health advocate and the visionary creator of Healthy Habit Journal. With a background enriched by personal health challenges within her family, Sophia brings a wealth of practical knowledge and a compassionate perspective to her work. She's known for her ability to translate complex nutritional information into accessible, actionable advice, making her a trusted voice in the journey toward holistic well-being.