The Decline of the American Dream in the 1920s
It may appear that The Great Gatsby is a romantic story of unrequited love but the central focus of the story is actually bigger in scope and does not indulge in romance. The story revolves in the summer of 1922 and set in Long Island, New York. The Great Gatsby presents an allegorical reflection on America in the 1920s where the Great America Dream was the fashion of the day. It does not uphold the era though. Instead, The Great Gatsby talks about the breakdown of the American dream in the period unparalleled prosperity and material excess.
Fitzgerald tackles the ubiquitous effect of material pursuit alone. During 1920s when new money or people acquiring wealth were on the rise, an apparent decline in social and moral values was noted. Cynicism, greed and pursuit of pleasure became the norm. Parties and wild jazz music as shown by Gatsby in the story contributed to the deterioration of the American Dream. The desire for money and bodily pleasures effectively quelled the primary aim behind American dream which was the quest for nobility.
In the story, Gatsby thinks of Daisy as his idea of perfection although she neither deserves nor possesses this. Gatsby’s dream is destroyed because of the unworthiness of his love, a parallelism of the American dream in the 1920s ruined by the unworthiness of money and pleasure. When Gatsby’s dream collapses, he has no reason left to live which symbolizes the Americans’ futile search for the bygone era.
Nick another character in the story reflects that just as Gatsby’s dream of Daisy was destroyed by money and dishonesty, the American dream of happiness and individualism has crumbled into an empty pursuit of wealth. Gatsby’s “greatness” is in his ability to make his dreams into reality but the era of dreaming, as epitomized by Gatsby’s dream and the American dream, is over.