The Myth of The American Dream


  1. Scott. Fitzgerald presents the idea of The American Dream- more so The American Dream Myth- through the four main locations mentioned and described throughout ‘The Great Gatsby’.“The American Dream is that dream of a land where life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” – James Truslow AdamsThis quote states that The American Dream is an ideal that humans should have equal opportunity to pursue happiness and success.In the book Fitzgerald presents the corruption of this “Dream” through the deceptive appearance of  East Egg, West Egg, The Valley of Ashes and New York.

“I lived at West Egg, the—well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them. […] Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water, and the history of the summer really begins on the evening I drove over there to have dinner with the Tom Buchanans. Daisy was my second cousin once removed, and I’d known Tom in college. And just after the war I spent two days with them in Chicago.” Nick compares the two eggs, stating that East egg is the more fashionable of the two, although West egg does have its riches as well. The difference between the eggs is not so hard-boiled but more status related. East Egg consists of the wealthy, of whom were born into their money and required no necessity to work hard for any of their riches. They’re snobby people who care for only themselves, the population consists of superficial people who take their lifestyle as a grant.“Oh, I’ll stay in the east, don’t you worry,‘ he said glancing at daisy and then back at me as if he was alert for something more. ‘I’d be a god damned fool to live anywhere else.”Tom Buchanan identifies how East Egg is supposedly the highest rank, it’s a selected society of only those whose wealth is ‘privileged’. The East Egg represents the Myth of the American Dream as the East Eggers are living a false dream. They’ve done nothing to earn the dream, but somehow they have landed on top, just from being born into a status. They had no participation and no fulfilment in any of the dream’s philosophies therefore they haven’t truely obtained the American Dream, but instead they live a false life of pretending they own it.

The Valley of Ashes represents the failure of the American Dream. The inhabitants of this small town, in between Long island and New York, have been lied to.  They have worked diligently their whole lives wishing to reach what the dream promises… A land better and nicer for all those who earn it with opportunities for the achievements of individuals. Wilson the  submissive car garage worker, worked his whole life in search of the promise of well deserved recompense. Instead his end is brutal, nothing that the American Dream pledged came true, only the mere opposite and his death. This lifestyle is the same for the rest of the town full of poverty. They never reached that ideal destination, they never obtained the succession of the American Dream and were forever shrouded under the cloud of ash that keeps them in the dark. Their story of hard work with no reward represents the failure of what the dream promises and the lies that they’ll always chase, engaged by false hope.

New York- It’s a heck of a town. New York examples a extravagant town where the American Dream flourishes in its full potential beauty… or at least that is how it appears. In reality New Yorkers believe they’ve reached the peak as the city materialises that of the American Dream. It is most definitely not the American Dream as when you discover Manhattan’s true crude identity. The illusion that the deceptive outer appearance produces is convincing but it’s not real. Myrtle believed in New York’s illusion, it was where she wanted to be, her dying hope was in the assurance of the dream in New York. Those who live in New York have been fooled by the false facade that it holds, only to realise that they can’t throw the illusion away, that they must become the illusion. At the enchanted metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others – poor young clerks who loitered in front of windows waiting until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner – young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.” Fitzgerald represents the recognition of this illusion through Nick’s perspective of the city, to him he sees it for what it truly is… a lot like Gatsby’s parties, but with less glamour- a lot of people and a lot of loneliness.


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