The American Dream in the Great Gatsby and The House on Mango Street (Essay Sample)
Write a 2,000 word research paper comparing and contrasting the portrayal of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby and The House On Mango Street . Be sure to discuss how each author uses symbols, setting, language, and character to convey a theme about the American Dream. In addition, address how these themes overlap and conflict.
Your paper must be properly formatted using MLA citations. You must also include a works cited page.
The American Dream in the Great Gatsby and The House on Mango Street
The American Dream can simply be described as the ideal through which equal opportunities are available to all Americans, making it possible for the highest aspirations and goals to be realized. Even though the American Dream has a generalized meaning bent on the opportunity and finding wealth, Americans have always interpreted the American Dream differently. This paper will give invaluable insights concerning how the American Dream as an ideology has been presented in the Great Gatsby and The House on Mango Street.
American Dream in the Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby is a tragic tale of love on the surface, but at its core, it is at most times interpreted as a pessimistic critique of the American Dream. In the story, Jay Gatsby got rid of his poor past to get an incredible amount of wealth and a decent level of social cache in the 1920s New York City, only for the "old money" crowd to reject him. His life comes to an end after he tangles up with them. Through the life of Gatsby, together with that of the Wilson's, Fitzgerald critiques the notion that America is a meritocracy where an individual from any social class can get to the top with sufficient hard work (Bénabou 23).
Taking a look at Jay Gatsby, it is evident that he is reaching out to something that is far off, something that is within his sights but definitely out of reach. The imagery portrayed by the green light is many a time misunderstood as part and parcel of the Great Gatsby's thoughts on the American Dream-the notion that individuals are always striving to go towards something greater than themselves that is basically beyond reach. Matter of fact this yearning image as an introduction to Gatsby is a foreshadow to an unhappy ending and also defines him as a dreamer, as opposed to individuals such as Tom or Daisy that were born "with a silver spoon in their mouths" and never need to struggle for anything so far off.
Early in the story, we gather this mostly optimistic image of the American dream. The author Fitzgerald makes it clear that individuals of different nationalities and races are always looking to migrate to The Big Apple (New York City); a place where possibilities are endless. This moment is characterized by all the classical elements of the American Dream that include financial empowerment, religious and ethnic diversity, and a cheery attitude. At this point, it feels like anything can turn out to be the outcome, even a happy ending (Scott 83).
All the same, this rosy view finally gets undermined by the tragic events later in the story. And also at this juncture, the condescension portrayed by Nick towards the individuals in the other vehicles emphasizes America's racial hierarchy and social classes that compromises the ideology of the American Dream. There is even a limited amount of competition at play, a "haughty rivalry" at play between Gatsby's motor vehicle and the car with the "moodish negroes." Nick laughs out loudly at this point, making it obvious that it is interesting the passengers in the other vehicle perceive themselves as equals to them, and even rivals to be bested. Another way to put it is that he seems to firmly believe in the racial hierarchy Tom talks about in the first chapter of the novel, even if there is no honest admittance.
The fact that Gatsby did not get Daisy to spend time with her for the rest of their lives is also indicative of the fragility of the American Dream. The story ties Daisy to all of Gatsby's big dreams for a better livelihood-to his version of the American dream. This section of the story sets the stage for the tragic ending of the novel since daisy is unable to hold up under the dema...
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