According to Marius Bewey, the key topic of The Great Gatsby is the withering of the American dream.
As Bewley states, “it can be shown that The Great Gatsby offers some of the severest and closest criticism of the American dream that our literature affords.” The novel is not a “pastoral documentary of the Jazz Age,” as Bewly puts it, but a text which analyses the particular features of the American experience in a highly artistic form.
For Gatsby, just as for many other Americans, money becomes something that can buy the happiness and the “romantic wonder” they strive for.
Hence, as Fussel points out, the beauty and love in Fitzgerald’s texts are commercialized and commodified.
In his article “Rethinking the American Dream,” David Kamp also states that even though initially the American dream meant an opportunity for everyone, today it is more about the fame and fortune for the upper classes.
In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald manages to grasp how the ideology of the American dream operated in the American society in the 1920s; at the same time, the book tells a universal story of human quest and desire.How Is the Concept of “American Dream” Presented in “The Great Gatsby”?With its depiction of a man rising from poverty to a luxurious life, The Great Gatsby of F. In this book, Fitzgerald seems to glorify the Jazz Age and splendid life of the upper classes, with its parties, cocktails, and dances.In this sense, with its acute social critic and depth, the novel can be seen as one of the greatest masterpieces of the American literature.Nevertheless, to understand how exactly Fitzgerald refutes the concept of the American Dream in his novel, one should define the term more clearly.As Max Weber observed it, the spirit of capitalism is closely related to the ethical code of the Protestants.As in Protestantism, work and activity are among the highest virtues, profit is seen as the merit of such work and something that has an end in itself.The ideology of the American dream values competition, not cooperation as a way of achieving personal goals.It admires free markets exactly because they give space for competition between the entrepreneurs.Therefore, their pursuit of happiness is “perpetually damned” (Fussel).American dream becomes the object of desire to Gatsby because it seems to him that the upper classes live in a world of leisure and carelessness, and they are surrounded by youth and grace.