The Great Gatsby is a story about events that took place within a few months in the summer of 1922 and is set in the surrounding of New York. The storyline of the main character Gatsby and his pursuance of the American dream together with the other supporting characters have been used to reveal the truths and illusions of the American dream. It is thus a good representation of the entire American dream in the 1920s and especially regarding the degradation of moral values that surrounded the dream.
Gatsby, who has just returned from the First World War, wants to achieve his dream of gaining the entire wealth of the Buchanan just like the majority of the other young men who had returned from the war. In the war, they had witnessed all kinds of evil activities taking place and as a result to them, they have little regard for moral values and their only desire is to make a lot of wealth and live comfortable lives. Gatsby out of the desire to achieve this American dream finds himself engaging in the selling of alcohol business which had been banned by the legislators. Fortunately, the banning made the commodity scarce and hence increased its demand presenting an easy avenue for making a lot of money for the few people who managed to engage in it. Gatsby manages to amass all the wealth he had desired, and his life becomes characterized by lavish lifestyle as evidenced by the extravagant parties he used to have on Saturday nights in his mansion. He together with others like Tom seems to have achieved it all regarding wealth and thus they can be said to have achieved the American dream.
Despite achieving the much acclaimed American dream, there is an emptiness in the life of the young men of the likes of Gatsby since they had focused on attaining the wealth they thought would satisfy them at the expense of other important aspects. Gatsby, for example, he tries to rewind events so that he can start afresh in his romantic relationship with Daisy, who is currently married. His extravagant lifestyle seems to be motivated by the desire to impress Daisy and is it is evidenced by the green lights which he stares for a long time believed to symbolize his hopes of being with Daisy. The life of Gatsby reveals the illusion of the American dream in the 1920s which seemed to look good on the outside, but it had its shortcomings since it didn’t tell its pursuers of the hollowness of the upper-class life. For example, in the novel West Egg which is used to represent the people who had achieved the American dream by amassing a lot of wealth in a short time represents the emptiness therein. They do not seem to have a sense of moral values but instead they all seem to be concerned with pleasure, but those representing the old system in East Egg possess some of the virtues.
All the people in the upper class, both from West Egg and East Egg despite being successful concerning having a lot of wealth, they appear to be lacking some essentials virtues. They thus live miserable lives whereas from the outside they seem to be enjoying and they thus provide an excellent illustration of the illusion of the American dream.
The American dream at the beginning might have been good since it encouraged self-discovery and the honest pursuit of happiness, however with the emergence of many avenues to make easy money, it was corrupted. Social values were degraded and as a result, the value of money became all about pleasure and consequently led to many crimes which could have been avoided. Gatsby despite achieving the American dream still has the dream of loving Daisy, but their differences in social classes possess a major difficulty since they have different orientations. Gatsby’s life is revolving around the wealth he has amassed whereas Daisy despite initially being in love with Gatsby realizes she has now a different loyalty. The ultimate end is Myrtle being killed in a car accident which results to Tom, her husband Killing Gatsby out of suspicion that he was his secret lover and then shoots himself. Nick, after arranging for a funeral for Gatsby departs from the area in a bid to avoid the bitter life of the people living in West Egg. This sad ending of the story reveals the ultimate emptiness of the American dream since it professes the acclamation that it is all about pursuance of wealth.
The pursuance of American dream results to much pain at the end and as a result, someone can be left wondering whether it is worth it all pursuing the American dream. Despite Gatsby being celebrated as an achiever of the American dream, his life has become entirely corrupted, and he is no longer a good representative of the American society. Furthermore, the removal of values and religion from the basics of the American dream and just focusing on pursuing happiness guarantees its failure.