Through an analysis of the development of such themes and their manifestations within the novel, the influence of money, crime and corruption will be established in relation to the genuine death of an American Dream.
Fitzgerald's narrator, Nick Carraway, is a young Princeton man who works as a bond broker in Manhattan. His neighbor at West Egg, Long Island, is Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is a self-made wealthy individual who is betrayed by his own dreams, which have been nurtured by a corrupt society. (Merriam-Webster, 488) The central focus on how Gatsby received his fortune can be explained by his dealings with organized crime, which does not at all adhere to the 'guidelines' of attaining the American Dream.
(Web/Online1) Nick also implies that immortality is the prevailing source of achieving wealth in society. (Fitzgerald, 1) To have a dream is to idealize success as a value crucial to survival, which is evident in the characters of Nick and Gatsby. Ronald Berman suggests that "the components of such a vision are wonder on the encounter with a new reality; love greater than eros, but expressed by it; the annihilation of the mere self". (Berman, 51) Nick addresses many things in the novel, for example honor and faith. He believes in: "the promises of life". (Fitzgerald, 6) W.M. Verhoeven wrote specifically in his book, Rewriting the Dream, that "Gatsby is, above all, about the tragedy of the American Dream. Gatsby's obsession with changing the past and returning to the time in which he and Daisy loved each other and he had the feeling that anything was possible to him", which demonstrates a central irony within the novel-that our vast feelings of love and faith can only be directed at objects unable to contain them. (Berman, 50) Through the trivial lives of Tom and Daisy Buchanan, it can be seen that a failure exists even within the midst of wealth, as on an "individual level" it illustrates the "tragic failure of America itself". (Verhoeven, 15) Through this, Fiztgerald is demonstrating the conflict between both Tom and Gatsby, as Gatsby is the nouveau riche and Tom is the embodiment of the upper class.
In the first chapter, when Nick quotes his father as having said: "Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had" (Fitzgerald, 3), it does not represents a monetary ideal, but one of birth, which exemplifies equality and decency as a human being. The first chapter guides the readers' understanding towards Nick's views on all the rich people in
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east side of society and also his views on Gatsby's "vulgar materialism". [Web/Online] Nick suggests in the novel:
"Only, Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book,
was exempt to my reaction-Gatsby, who represented
everything for which I have unaffected scornthere was
something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity
to the promises of lifeit was an extraordinary gift for hope,
a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other
person and which is likely I shall never find again."