‘The Great Gatsby’, is widely considered to be a great work of American literature. Despite being one of Fitzgerald earliest works it is considered to be one of his master pieces.
A discussion of the corruption of the American Dream in ‘The Great Gatsby’ must be preceded by a discussion of what the American Dream itself is.
The American Dream has been generally defined as the idea that in America everyone can gain success and prosperity through hard work, they are not limited by things like social class and misfortunes of birth. It has also been linked with specific material possessions such as having two cars or owning a house. Success is however, a quite relative term. Most people would define an economically successful man as being one that is richer than his peers. Seen this way, it is a mathematical impossibility for most people to be rich. Most people cannot be rich anymore than most people can of above average intelligence.
To imply that the American Dream has been corrupted is to imply that it was once something pure and noble. Several people have traced the American dream to the “Protestant Work Ethic” (Fraser). It seems obvious however, that rather than being a work ethic, the American Dream is merely a crude glorification of wealth and denigration of the poor and poverty.
A clear picture of the American Dream may be seen in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, in the words of the fictional American double agent masquerading as a Nazi propagandist Howard W. Campbell, Jr.
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