Compelled to Destruction

Will the society of America fail, just as Gatsby's?

The struggle to achieve what is believed to be the "American Dream".

What is your definition of the American Dream? The actual American Dream is hard to define, as it is a separate idea for every person and almost always a false sense of reality. The “dream” creates a false sense of what is real, and this is clearly portrayed by the upper class in the Great Gatsby. The idea of following the dream can cause any society to fail because many of the ideas put into the dream have the wrong intentions. Our society is based on the American Dream as well, which to many people, means money and success. In Gatsby society and the present day society, the American Dream is a tunnel for peoples failed attempts on their dreams, and the idea of success that people follow only to end in destruction.

Can you survive buying into the American Dream?

Look at the Great Gatsby, a book that gives a look into the American Dream as it was for the characters. There is a baseline to compare to them, which would be the idea most common of that era. That would consist of; obtaining wealth, having a stable profession, purchasing material objects, being married and having a house with a family. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? We live our lives based on the same ideas. The life style of both of our eras makes it immensely popular to believe in the American Dream. We look up to material things, things like the Kardashian family. Kim Kardashian, 32, was paid millions to have her wedding shown on television for the world to see. Sadly, 4.4 million envious viewers tuned in to watch her look and act perfect. Needless to say, a lot of women wish they were her. But why? What is so perfect about a marriage that lasts 72 days?

Every character in book was involved in being what Nick said, “There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired.” (Fitzgerald 79) This is his outlook at everyone, as he felt these four categories could capture all the attitudes of the era. This quote firmly shows Nicks views on the dream. As the pursuing is for the dream, everything in its surrounding is formed. This leads to the tired and the busy, created from the pursuing and pursued. Nick, along with the other main characters all find their ideas of the dream to fail. Nick’s attempt on making it for himself was crushed once he realized he has nothing in the East and really was homesick and lonely. His vision was to work in bonds, and not need to use the old family money. However reality strikes unexpectedly and his mental picture crumble. He was set on the dream and it took failure to make him realize that the dream only causes a false sense of reality. Tom’s idea of the dream is skewed and manipulated by the fast pace lifestyle, as he tries to have two women in his life. His lavish lifestyle of having money and being able to do what he wanted was only to end unfortunately. His wife slipped away from him, and his other woman Myrtle was killed. The false American Dream that the East brought, did not have positive effects for Gatsby, Daisy, or Wilson as they all have major setbacks. Respectively, Gatsby never achieved the girl he long perused, Daisy has her old love die and realizes she has unstable relations with Tom, and Wilson sees his wife die from her fantasy of being with Tom. Stating all these facts shows that in the end none of the characters end up with their own personal dreams and wants. This proves that even in today’s society, if your life is based on material objects and if you believe happiness is based on how much money you have, you are on the road to destruction. This shows that while everyone was trying to succeed based on their own idea of the American Dream, the characters drifted far from a successful society and the whole society ended in destruction. We are doing the same thing, we don’t pay attention to what is actually important and we are all losing our sense of reality.

What makes YOU happy?

Money, cars, and mansions can tear societies apart. People drift into their own world and are sucked into being material. Societies will disappear and people will become so obsessed with money and riches, that they will lose sight on they are in their own society. Once everybody looses sight, the society will be nothing.

False Love

As an individual everyone can have their own idea of what they want to get out of their lives, but it’s some of the evil in the ideas that can cause a society to fail. In our society and Gatsby’s, it is a time of massive opportunity to pursue all your hopes and dreams. Many of us have dreamt to go to best colleges out there, to get the highest paying job available, and to start a family with a “soul mate” Sadly, the ideas that shape the American Dream and how we would successfully get all of those things are only obtainable when sacrificing happiness. The objects and lifestyles that we believed to be coveted are that of no importance towards happiness. They are ideas of false love, material objects, and making a name for yourself. These mixed priorities are clearly seen in Gatsby’s society as well. With Daisy’s outstanding desire for material wealth she says, “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such-such beautiful shirts before.”(Fitzgerald 92) She is astonished by Gatsby’s wealth and it completely changes her perspective on her marriage with Tom. Many people marry for money and for looks, and it destroys societies. What are all the good people supposed to do, conform to the fake reality? False love and the idea of being in love can really change your outlook on what you are inspired for in your life. This is most plainly seen with Gatsby, in his obsession to impress and become reconnected with Daisy. This shows examples of how the people of the era really abused the idea of the “American Dream” in a similar way to that of manifest destiny in an attempt to put reason behind their actions. The American Dream should be based on happiness and feeling accomplished through hard work. The wrongful ideas of the “dream” forced the society to collapse because it purely sucks away the true identity of people and makes them invisible.

Does money = happiness?

Wealth and status on the social scale are both important factors during the twenties and today, but do not ultimately lead to happiness. Just because you own the biggest house and the fastest car that doesn’t mean you’re happy. The world and the story are filled with people who have lots of money being old money, through sports careers, and achieving wealth illegally. The most common misunderstanding that goes into play in both of our worlds is the false sense of the “American Dream” is that happiness is created by money. Societies can be crushed by swindlers and cheats that will do anything for money. Even today, towns are crippled because of the greed and the idea that money makes everyone happy, for example, the city of Detroit. The characters with lots of money in the novel are all plagued with the fast pace lifestyle that surrounds and encompasses them. They are living in a fictional world, and eventually when reality catches up to them, and their society has already collapsed. Money is a barrier for real dreams to be completed; it was a big factor in why the society failed, and why our society will fail as well.

Shown in the novel, dreams can not permanently turn into reality. The American Dream is plainly a set of ideas around the most popular material and lust. If everyone bases their lives on the idea of the American Dream, it will destroy our societies even more. People try too hard to achieve something that cannot be achieved and the only reason they try so hard is because they have this idea in their head that it is the right way to succeed. The characters of the story all put up failed attempts on their own wishes, only to come to realization that they are living unrealistically. The ideas that go into the shaping of the dream are those of wrongful insight not leading to happiness. And, the wrongful notion that money is the most important factor in happiness. With the idea of the “American Dream”, being what we base our lives on, and what they based their lives on, it is clear that the want for money and material objects only leads to problems within in a society. The society failed because people cared too much about themselves succeeding and they lost direct relationship with each other. If we refrain from material objects and try to find true love and happiness in each other, rather than money, our society might just have the chance to succeed.

Jill Conforti