The Corruption of The American Dream Through Jay GatsbyIn The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby personifies the promise of the American Dream, while simultaneously, but unintentionally, displaying the contamination of the American Dream. Although the American Dream was not a fixed belief/standard that everyone tried to live up to, Gatsby believed that it gave him the power of being able to rewrite his past, achieve the woman of his dreams, and buy eternal happiness.Jay Gatsby, at a young age, understood the power of money and what it was capable of doing. He often desired to be extremely rich and fancy. However, despite his fantasies of having money and being wealthy, he was the son of two unsuccessful farmers. He was very poor.
Later on, the readers are informed that Gatsby’s real name was “Jimmy Gatz”, and that Jay Gatsby’s wealth was the product of bootlegging. Once the story settles in and introduces Jay Gatsby as this “gorgeous” person, Gatsby’s vile and problematic characteristics are revealed. To be specific, Gatsby was so blinded by the power of money that he believed in rewriting his past. This is interesting because the American Dream was about being successful and having people look up to you.
But Gatsby abused his money and power and created a reputation of himself that was not like his original self. He even said, “Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!” (Fitzgerald 110). This is a very significant quotation because it shows and explains Gatsby’s desires to relive his life.
The quotation displays his angry emotions which furthermore explains Gatsby’s will to not accept the fact that money can’t actually rewrite his life (he still attempts to relive his life). Adding on, the fact that Gatsby is in denial with his own past makes his character even more corrupted. This is caused by his resistant characteristics which generates the urge to rewrite his past.
Moreover, as mentioned in the beginning, Gatsby changed his name to “Jimmy Gatz”. A person’s name can be listed as one of the most, if not, the most important and special piece of identification. However, Gatsby still changes it because he wanted a new identity that would indicate his new lavish lifestyle. Overall, it was Gatsby’s corrupted character that generated the will to fabricate his past.
Gatsby not only thought that money would allow him to rewrite his past, but he also believed that it was the one thing that would allow him to achieve the woman of his dreams. For example, when Nick offers to set up a date between Gatsby and Daisy, Gatsby tells Nick that he wanted Nick’s garden to be refined and was particularly nervous. When Gatsby arrived to Nick’s house on the day of the date, he was in a “white flannel suit, silver shirt, and gold-colored tie” (84). This quotation shows how focused Gatsby was about appearing luxurious and neat instead of trying a little harder to appeal his qualities as a human being. It displays how Gatsby thinks everything can be solved with money. It shows how the idea of money has already consumed him.
Continuing on, Gatsby once planed to change his entire life to be on par with the people of Daisy’s social class. And after Gatsby succeeded to do so, he boasted about his possessions by inviting “you Nick and Daisy to come over to my his house” (89). Fitzgerald’s constant utilization of having Gatsby boast his possessions elevates Gatsby’s sense of corruption. This is because Gatsby is trying to buy love with money. He is trying to prove to Daisy that he is on a higher social scale compared to someone like Tom. Gatsby wants to prove this because he had self strife about his past and knows how his past self wouldn’t have been enough for Daisy.
That is why he gloats his personal materialistic items to make sure Daisy feels like she is in love with a worthy man. However, love is priceless and is something that cannot realistically be purchased with money. Contrastingly, Gatsby still firmly believed that money could overrule something more valuable than money such as human interaction/relationship. This comprehensively depicts Gatsby as a man of corruption who used his money to buy Daisy’s affection.
While Gatsby’s vision of what he could do with his money was focused on two main elements, the thought of money being the source to unlimited happiness was the main representation of the corruption of the American dream. Gatsby specifically experienced happiness through the things he was able to do with money and pretty much anything that was associated with money. His clothes, house, lavish lifestyle, and even Daisy are evidences that support the fact that Gatsby is so deprived by money. Furthermore, Gatsby instigates the notion about the American Dream where all it represents is wealth and happiness. However, in reality, it is completely the opposite. In fact, “glorious might be his future as Jay Gatsby, he was at present a penniless young man without a past” (149). Fitzgerald incorporates this quote late into the chapters to notify the readers how the American Dream wasn’t really all about being happy and wealthy.
And by using the word “penniless”, he is making a contrast to the general consensus of Gatsby’s image. While Gatsby is portrayed and represented as a rich young man with a lot of achievements, Fitzgerald implements the word “penniless” to show how Gatsby is actually poor and depressed internally. This shows how the American Dream not only corrupted Gatsby, but also hurt him. This contrast acted as a total realization of the truth of the American Dream and exposed Gatsby’s corruption. The Great Gatsby was without a doubt a story that displayed the corruption of the American Dream through Jay Gatsby. Not only did Fitzgerald simply expose the flawed side of the American Dream through Jay Gatsby, but he also revealed the truth of it.
He revealed that the American Dream wasn’t about people being rich and happy, but rather people having to fake their depressed and poor state by using money. Gatsby directly represented just how fraudulent the Dream was. He violated laws with money, bought love with money, bought happiness with money, and even rewrote his past with the use of money. These were all the result of his belief of money giving him the power of reliving his past, obtaining his ideal woman, and buying everlasting happiness.