What is the cost?

One may be willing to pay a variety of different costs in pursuit of their dream. They may offer up their honesty, their compassion, and maybe even their money, but reputation is the most common cost of pursuing a dream. Many people have altered their reputation so that they may accomplish whatever dream they may have.

Ones dreams may vary but whether their dream is wealth, an elaborate home, friends, or even love, many sacrifice altering their reputation in pursuit of their dreams.

Proving Oneself

Many people sacrifice their reputation in order to pursue their dreams of proving themselves. In “The Great Gatsby,” many characters give up a lot in order to achieve their dream. Reputation is a major cost a few of the characters are willing to pay. Immensely consumed in achieving their dream, these characters negatively alter their reputations and every thing they have going for them to pursue their dreams of proving themselves. For example, Jordan Baker, a professional women’s golfer, willingly alters her reputation in order for her to achieve her dream of being the best. “At her first big golf tournament there was a row that nearly reached the newspapers-a suggestion that she had moved her ball from a bad lie in the semi-final round. The thing approached the proportions of a scandal...She was incurably dishonest. She wasn’t able to endure being at a disadvantage...” (Fitzgerald, 57-58). Jordan Baker cheated in her golf tournament because she could not fathom the thought of losing. Her reputation of a honest, hard working golfer was negatively altered after she decided to lie and cheat in order to pursue her dream of being the best and to ultimately prove herself. Another person willing to sacrifice their reputation in order to prove themselves is Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of the book “Nickel and Dimed,”. Ehrenreich is forced to give up her reputation of being a wealthy author, to become a poor waitress in the pursuit of proving her theory that one can manage to live off a minimum wage job in Key West, Florida. Her "first task is to find a place to live. [She] figure[d] that if [she] can earn $7 an hour -- which, from the want ads, seems doable -- [she] can afford to spend $500 on rent or maybe, with severe economies, $600 and still have $400 or $500 left over for food and gas. In the Key West area, this pretty much confines [her] to flophouses and trailer homes -- like the one, a pleasing fifteen-minute drive from town, that has no air-conditioning, no screens, no fans, no television, and, by way of diversion, only the challenge of evading the landlord's Doberman pinscher.” (Ehrenreich,Serving). Through completely altering her lifestyle, Ehrenreich completely altered her reputation in order to prove herself as an author as well as her theory.


Wealth is another major reason many sacrifice their reputation. A great example of this is Gordon Gekko, a character in the 1987 film "Wall Street". He addresses what is wrong with this country's economy and the vice presidents of companies to the company's stockholders.. “Now, in the days of the free market, when our country was a top industrial power, there was accountability to the stockholder. The Carnegies, the Mellons, the men that built this great industrial empire, made sure of it because it was their money at stake. Today, management has no stake in the company!”(Gekko Greed). He suggests many things such as the fact that America used to be a top industrial power but didn't take care of the money responsibly. He also suggests that vice presidents such as the ones of Tedlar Paper or contributing to the downfall of the economy. His message to the stockholders, is that the economy needs to be saved from the selfish vice presidents and that it is the stockholders job to rise up and take over. Gekko argues that these vice presidents are corrupt and will even illegally bring in more money for themselves to go on with "their hunting and fishing trips, their corporate jets and golden parachutes"(Gekko Greed). They will sacrifice anything for money including their reputation. Although this was a movie it is based on true events that took place on Wall Street. The Inside Job is a documentary film produced in 2010 which covers the aspects of the financial crisis, America was in a few years ago. Many companies, such as Goldman Sachs Lehman Brothers are accused of fraud and inside trading. In an attempt to be as successful as possible, these companies deceive the ones who trusted them sacrificing their reputation for wealth.

Glamours Life Style

The Glamorous Life Style of the rich is a mesmerizing dream for those who are less prosperous. This dream is big enough for some that they give up their positive reputation to achieve it. In “The Great Gatsby,” many characters give up a lot in order of achieving their dream. For Myrtle Wilson the glamorous life style of the rich was worth sacrificing her once honest reputation to commit adultery with the man who lived the life she dreamed of. Prior to meeting Tom Buchanan, she was a loyal and loving wife to her husband George Wilson. After falling in love with Tom and being mesmerized by the glamorous and wealthy life he lived, her reputation of being a faithful, loving wife altered to being an adulterer, and a liar. A friend of Myrtles mentions at a party, “‘Neither of them can stand the person they’re married to.’ ‘Can’t they?’ ‘Can’t stand them.’ She looked at Myrtle and then at Tom. ‘What I say is, why go on living with them if they can’t stand them? If I was them I’d get a divorce and get married to each other right away.’” (Fitzgerald, 33). This shows that although she is married, she now has a known reputation of cheating on her husband solely because of how mesmerized she had become with Tom Buchanan's glamorous life style. Similar to Myrtle was Anna Nicole Smith. She was an actress who never became as successful as she had hoped when along came J. Howard Marshall, 89 year old billionaire, whom Smith later married. She was 26 and he was 89 when they married but he passed away a year later. Howard's son "portray[ed] the starlet as a gold digger" (Knowles, "Husband") when she tried to claim his estate which Howard's son was entitled to. It was clear from the beginning Smith had married the man three times her age purely for her longing of the glamorous life style. This controversy demolished her reputation as an actress all because of her dreams of living the glamorous lifestyle.

Works Cited

"Anna Nicole Smith's daughter owed upwards of $49 million from family of late husband, judge rules." NY Daily News. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Jan. 2014. <http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/anna-nicole-smith-daughter-owed-money-dead-billionaire-hubbie-estate-judge-article-1.1360075>.

Ehrenreich, Barbara. "Barbara Ehrenreich - Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America." Barbara Ehrenreich- author of Nickel and Dimed. Barbara Ehrenreich, n.d. Web. 5 Jan. 2013. <http://www.barbaraehrenreich.com/nickelanddimed_excerpt.htm>.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott, and Matthew J. Bruccoli. "Chapter 3." The great Gatsby. New York, NY: Scribner, 1996. 57-58. Print.

Gekko, Gordon . "American Rhetoric: Movie Speech: Wall Street ." American Rhetoric: The Power of Oratory in the United States. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Jan. 2013.


Inside Job. Dir. Charles Ferguson. Perf. William Ackman. Sony Pictures Classics, 2010. DVD.