AmericanDream as Seen in Two Art Works, "Citizen Kane" and "TheGreat Gatsby."
Thesistheillusionary lives that many people hope to live in the American worldis full of sorry despite the will to achieve and enjoy their dreamsas seen in the “The Great Gatsby” and "Citizen Kane."
F.Scott Fitzgerald’s TheGreat Gatsbyportraysthe American dream as a failure. The writer illustrates the moraldegradation of the American society that drowned in loud parties,greed and vanity. The very idea of enrichment through hard work wasdisrupted by the human egoism and carelessness. The main hero of thenovel, in particular, appears to be the designer of his regretfulfate. Namely, Jay Gatsby demonstrates the tendency for self-abuse aswell as the misguided understanding of the American dream includingthe meaning of love and success.
Afterthe First World War (World War 1) America was the superpower nationand hit almost all the media houses. Its participation in the GreatWar had sold its name against that of the other countries who wishedto achieve similar recognition. Ranging from tactical and experiencedarmy troops and first-hand weapons the nation owns much respect andlove for many individuals around the globe. After its limelight ittrended in the papers and the news houses wrote the positive anduseful information that made America look like heaven on earth.Immigrants never hesitated with interests to explore real jobs wealthand families in the USA. The increase in the general populationresulted into good and evils for the residents of this nation bothnatives and immigrants. The Great Gatsby and Citizen Kane are a clearindication of how life events unfolded for these people.F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby depicts how the blind pursuitof the American dream dooms the main characters to a tragic ending.The author describes how the main characters blindly pursued theAmerican dream, which they thought would give them the life theyanticipated. At the beginning of Fitzgerald’screative fictional piece, the majorcharacters had high expectations of what they thought was the kind oflife they would have loved to get for the rest of their lives(Robert, Hirschl & Foster 111). However, at the climax of thenovel, the pursuit of the American dream turned out to be quiteillusory. Eventually, the inflated expectations that these charactershad, work against them. According to Kochan, this shows that in the1920s, people had high hopes about the American dream (89).Consequently, many individuals pursued it this is attributable tothe reason that this concept had been ingrained in the Americanculture, which could reflect the modern day times. Interestingly, theconcept of the American dream as portrayed in Fitzgerald’sThe Great Gatsby isa misguided one. In other words, it is a vision that becomes elusivesince many people do not understand just how to go about pursuing thedream thus, such a pursuit can lead an individual to failure and anunsatisfactory ending.
First,the novel shows the pursuit of the American dream can lead a personto failure. Jay Gatsby who changes his name from James Gatsby is themain character through which the author vividly portrays how theAmerican dream eventually leads to failure (Kochan 65).Cullen described the American dream as a set of national ethos, whichemphasize that any willing individual can have the chance to prosperthrough hard work whereby no barriers exist to limit anyone’ssuccess irrespective of their nationality, background, gender, andreligious affiliation (76). In The Great Gatsby, theauthor gives a chronological account of how the American dreambegins, how people pursue it with the aim of attaining success thatcomes only after hard work, and the subsequent result of blindlypursuing it. In his fictional masterpiece, Fitzgerald initiallyplaces us in the early 1920s through a brief background of World WarI. Cullen indicated that this was a period of high tension in allparts of the United States (98). In chapter two, the authorintroduces a young and vibrant couple, George and Myrtle Wilson whoare working hard to elevate the standards of their life this is thefirst depiction of the American dream. In chapters four and five,Fitzgerald brings in Jay Gatsby’s ultimate objective, to win DaisyBuchanan. In spite of the expansive nature of the materialisticpossessions he has, winning Daisy would give him peace of mind thisresults in a relationship between Daisy and Gatsby. In the subsequentchapters, the author shows how Gatsby was able to accumulate a lot ofwealth as a result of his involvement in organized crime (Fitzgerald87). To Gatsby, this was the quickest way of obtaining the requisitewealth for wooing the woman he had loved ever since he set his eyeson her. However, things just do not turn out the way Gatsby expected.
TheAmerican dream was all the fancy lives that many people wanted toachieve. As described and symbolized by the Statue of Liberty theidol stood for the opportunities that many people expected to enjoyin this nation. “A real life of a graduate, with a white collarjob, married to a loving, faithful wife and children who had a chancealso to enjoy education from the prestigious schools around thenation (Fitzgerald, 1925)”. The notions of the hopes laid beforechanged as people came to learn that many other opportunities hadpresented to their lives and all they needed was to grab them andleave their dreams.
Apartfrom the apparent dissociations of the events between the two piecesof work, there has been commonalities that have been noticed towardsachieving the central theme. For instance, in both The Great Gatsbyand Citizen Kane the two individuals are indeed showing success insome parts of their lives. The dream referred to must not be thoughtas a compilation of all the events. It can be clear that in both thescenes there is one thing achieved. Among them is marriage, both thepersons are married as seen in context but the failures that arisemay be regarded as a new encroachment of things that were not part ofthe original expectations. Daisy and Tom Buchanan and Kane who alsomarried Emily Norton the then daughter of the President of the UnitedStates are accomplishing one thing which is marriage[ CITATION Ors41 l 1033 ].In our dream marrying was thought to be a breakthrough until we learnabout the derailments experienced later on.
Also,the element of education is also high in determination to come tolight. Both the characters are said to be scholars with manyinstances mentioning the schooling part. For example, Nick in theGatsby still gets to college even after taking part in the Great War.Obtaining a job in the military is clearly depicted as nothingcompared to going to college to pursue studies and get employed. Thiswas the exact reason that prompted the characters to attend school.Similarly, Kane’s mother send her away despite the fact that a goldmine had been discovered on their land. This is a success to wealthbut to leave the American dream you needed education and therefore,Kane was sent to Thatcher to make sure he studies. In this societyindeed everyone is focused on leaving the idea.
Besides,the nature of Gatsby’s love for Daisy ensures the failure of hisAmerican dream. Daisy seems to embody the symbol of richness, theirresistible charm of the luxurious life. Gatsby scarcely sees theperson behind the image of “the king`s daughter, the golden girl”“high in a white palace” (Fitzgerald 76). He seems enchanted byher voice that is “full of money” (Fitzgerald 76). Gatsby’slove seems tragically misguided. Moreover, his feelings stronglyresemble the obsession. At the party, it becomes evident for thenarrator that the hero’s main objective is to return the sense ofromance, lost five years ago (Fitzgerald 71). The purchase of thehouse near to Daisy’s mansion and the crowded parties appear to beonly the element of the long cherished plan to reenter her life(Fitzgerald 70). Finally, Gatsby tends to disregard the fact of hermarriage to Tom and having a daughter as he stubbornly tries to proveDaisy’s love for him (Fitzgerald 74-85). At the same time, the maincharacter fails to understand the nature of relationships between themembers of the upper class. Since Daisy appears incapable of leavingher husband, the feeling of safety is more important for her than thepursuit of her love (Fitzgerald 104). The main heroine is far moreinterested in building a comfortable life. In her opinion, the dailyroutine should be full of pleasant and shallow moments such asnumerous dates, cheerful interactions and shopping (Fitzgerald 96).Her marriage to Tom seems to have happened due to her immense needfor stability while Gatsby was at war. In words of the narrator, itis a union of unclear motives that could include love, money or“unquestionable practicality” (Fitzgerald 96). Marriage to Tombrought the sense of closure and relief as well as the desired orderinto Daisy’s life. Meanwhile, Fitzgerald strongly emphasizes theoverall carelessness of Daisy and Tom as the members of the upperclass. It is especially evident from Tom’s intention to reveal thetruth about Gatsby, cause his death and escape the responsibility(Fitzgerald 114). Therefore, the marriage among the wealthy peopleresembles the union of similar character rather than the lovingcouple. Fitzgerald points out that Gatsby’s love that isessentially an obsession with the idea of love, money and success. Inthe end, the surreal feelings for Daisy lead his dream and life to asad ending.
Additionally,in the case, there is betrayal marriage breakdown. This despite notbeing part of the American Dream it has encroached and destroyed thewill of characters involved. In “Citizen Kane” the persona’smarriage to Emily Norton[ CITATION Ors41 l 1033 ]is said to fade away from what they had earlier thought they wouldenjoy. From the expectations having children in wedlock was part ofthe dream to be enjoyed by the seekers. This is against the odds asin both the cases the personas have not shown any efforts insignificantly achieving the families they wanted in the dreams. Tom’smarriage to Daisy also disintegrates and turns to a sour relationshipwith his friends. The break ups in both cases have similarities aspersonas have mistresses whom they turn to. This points out the casesof infidelity in the plays which have ultimately killed interests ofmany people. Marriage in both cases does not need come out of freewill towards love and understanding but, only materialistic. It showshow the women had the evil mind of seeking men who had significantlyachieved much wealth and stability. Nick invites Daisy after whichthey start a relation with Gatsby and on the side Kane turns againstThatcher[ CITATION Chi15 l 1033 ]by “releasing press news against Thatcher’s business interest.”
Alcoholismhas also come out considerably, as Tom accuses Gatsby of havingacquired his wealth from alcohol business. In the same case SusanAlexander, Kane’s second wife has newly opened a nightclub and hasnow adopted the new behavior of drunkenness. It was not among the fewlucky things that many had dreamt of having in their lives. It isseen as a resolve for the poor Susan. Also, it is among the poorthings that have accompanied the society which has turned against theodds. In both cases, illegal moves by the characters have shifted theinteresting one thought to be enjoyed and made them healthy peoplewho seek wealth by power and greed.
The pursuit of the American dream also leads Gatsby to failure due tohis self-abasement. Gatsby’s misguided views about wealth, socialclass, and love caused his untimely death. Concerning his views aboutlove, Gatsby is unrealistic because he seems to deceive himself.According to Fitzgerald, Gatsby disregards the inner character of thewoman he fell in love with (77). Instead, he values outside beauty.He remains blind about Daisy’s betrayal of the love they onceshared. Daisy betrayed the connection between Gatsby and her byopting to marry Tom since the former was out fighting for hiscountry. Surprisingly, Gatsby ignores Daisy’s betrayal and instead,decides to pursue her. At the prevailing circumstances, Gatsby couldhave opted to look for another young woman to marry instead oftrespassing into Daisy’s supposed marriage. Indeed, this impliesthat Gatsby was trapped in illusion hence, his perception of realitywas largely obscured by his intense obsession. The main hero’sillusory conduct manifests itself when he instigates a seeminglyperilous conflict with the wealthy and powerful Tom. Therefore, thismakes Tom to suspect Gatsby of making a move on his wife (Fitzgerald111). Tom’s suspicion becomes the beginning of Gatsby’s regretfulfate. Therefore, Tom decided to craft a way of revenge. He uses hissocial status to make everyone to believe that Gatsby killed GeorgeWilson’s wife, Myrtle Wilson (Fitzgerald 114). Gatsby’s lack ofconcern about the safety and security of his future reveals howcareless he is about his life in his pursuit of his version of theAmerican dream. In essence, this shows that the main character in thenovel obliviously jeopardizes his life in his efforts of trying towin Daisy eventually, he dies alone.
JayGatsby is the perfect embodiment of the negative consequences ofpursuing the American dream blindly. Such pursuit did not bring himto a satisfactory ending. Gatsby comes from humble backgrounds inNorth Dakota. His parents are poor peasant farmers (Fitzgerald 17).Therefore, this motivates him to devise a way to uplift his lowstatus in life. As a result of his efforts, he becomesextraordinarily wealthy despite his humble beginnings. Other thanhaving been born in a poor family, Gatsby’s motivation for wealthis due to his obsession with Daisy. Gatsby blindly pursues Daisydespite her having chosen to marry Tom Buchanan, a man of high socialstanding (Fitzgerald 92). Gatsby feels that nothing should stand inhis way in his efforts to pursue all his dreams. According toGatsby’s perceptions about life, both moral and human barriers aremere stepping stones to success and prosperity. In his narration,Nick Carroway indicates “tomorrowwe will run faster, stretch out our arms farther”(Fitzgerald 64). Gatsby chooses to engage in organized crime to makea lot of wealth that according to his perception will enable him towin the beautiful and wealthy Daisy. Gatsby also considers Daisy’spreferred husband, Tom as a barrier to his love for her. For thisreason, he disregards Tom’s social status by making continuousmoves on Daisy (Fitzgerald 88). However, this becomes the beginningof an unsatisfactory ending of his version of the American dream.According to Robert, Hirschl, andFoster, in the traditional American dream, people only achievetheir objectives as a result of sheer hard work that is devoid ofget-rich-quick schemes (102). However, Gatsby’s version of theAmerican dream is one in which there is no harm in obtaining wealththrough any form of organized crime. Therefore, this makes him tomiss vital points about creating and sustaining success. Arguably,the cause of Gatsby’s obscured perception on prosperity has rootsin his unsuccessful stint working for Dan Cody. His attempts to workhard do not materialize when Cody’s ex-wife becomes the solebeneficiary of Cody’s entire estate (Fitzgerald 43). The effect ofhis unfruitful hard work approach is his involvement in illegal waysof making wealth the easy way. Therefore, while Gatsby was able tomake a lot of possessions, his blind pursuit of Daisy led him to anunsatisfactory ending. In the end, Gatsby dies tragically. Tominfluences George Wilson to develop a vengeful attitude towardsGatsby since the former wrongfully used his influence to accuse thelatter of killing George’s wife, Myrtle Wilson (Fitzgerald 119).George shoots Gatsby to avenge the death of Myrtle Wilson. Therefore,in an attempt to get win back Daisy, Gatsby loses his life. Indeed,this is an unsatisfactory ending.
Also,Gatsby’s American dream primarily focuses on the appearance itspursuit leads to a failure. TheGreat Gatsbycontains a vivid illustration of the American dream. The openingchapter of the novel depicts the American upper class, whose familymoney allow the younger generation to adhere to a flamboyantlifestyle (Fitzgerald 6). Therefore, the luxury and material wealthare the common attributes of the prosperity for the main hero. Namely, the rich decorations of Daisy’s house gave Gatsby the shortglimpses on the desirable future (Fitzgerald 94). While aspiring tojoin the ranks of the wealthy people, Gatsby chooses thecontroversial methods to achieve his goal. The main character resortsto illegal dealings with alcohol in order to earn the easy money(Fitzgerald 85). His business associations also cast a deep suspicionabout the origin of his wealth. For instance, the readers learn aboutMeyer Wolfsheim and his prominent role in Gatsby’s enrichment(Fitzgerald 107). The mentioned excursions to Gatsby’s past showhis readiness to overstep moral boundaries in order to build thewealthy life. Meanwhile, Gatsby’s personal mansion became theculmination of his efforts. Gatsby does not try to hide his pridewhile showing the house to Daisy (Fitzgerald 58). He appears deeplyconvinced that the possession of the valuable items signifies hisbelonging to the privileged society. The main character’s worldviewreflects the overly materialistic mentality of the American nationwhereas the outside appearance is highly overrated. Moreover, thecriminal experience left a deep stain on Gatsby’s character. Itbecomes evident on several occasions that the main hero acquired aneatly concealed mercilessness and looked “as if he had “killed aman” whenever Gatsby faced a threat (Fitzgerald 86). Along with thecorrupted moral, Gatsby seems to have developed a taste for thecrowded parties. The narrator provides the accurate accounts of thesesocial events that encompass hundreds of prominent figures(Fitzgerald 39-41). However, during the casual entertainments, NickCarroway comes to notice the unpleasantness of the situation. In hiswords, the West Egg society that included “the same sort of people,the same profusion of champagne, the same many colored, many-keyedcommotion” was highly unaware about the absurdity of its lifestyle. (Fitzgerald 67). Therefore, the novel reveals that the common idealsof prosperity are often based on the wrong assumptions.
Besides,Gatsby’s self-abasement causes the failure of his American dream.The disrupted views on love and wealth are essentially the mainreason of his regretful death. Gatsby exhibits the tendency toself-deception because his opinion about Daisy is unrealistic. Thelove of his life appears shallows since she cherishes only thephysical beauty (Fitzgerald 76). She totally lacks the motherlyinstincts while treating her daughter as the afterthought (Fitzgerald74). Gatsby appears entrapped in the pleasant illusion. At the sametime, he spent last five years of his life waiting for Daisy andaccumulating wealth by means of the criminal activity (Fitzgerald85). The intensity of his desire for this woman paved the way for hisdegradation. Moreover, the incredible efforts, aimed at reversing thepast, seem to cause Gatsby the overwhelming emotional distress. Forinstance, the main character experiences the sense of hopelessnessafter the failed attempt to elicit the desirable reaction from Daisy(Fitzgerald 70). He tends to justify her actions when Daisy cannotchoose between Tom and Gatsby, and kills the woman on the road(Fitzgerald 92). Clearly, Gatsby’s love for Daisy obscures hisperception of reality. Finally, Gatsby initiates the dangerousconflict, as Tom gets suspicious of his intentions regarding hiswife. The main hero becomes the target for the revengeful plans asTom uses his social status to investigate Gatsby’s past and blamehim for killing Myrtle Wilson (Fitzgerald 107, 114). The fact thatthe main character does not make any efforts, aimed at securing hisfuture, reveals the lack of care about his safety. He seems moreconcerned about the fragile feelings of his loved one while Tom andDaisy have a nice family evening (Fitzgerald 93). Evidently, Gatsbydeliberately puts his life in jeopardy out of stubborn desire to winthe love of his life, and eventually dies alone. None of hisassociates and perpetrators of this situation came to his funeralexcept for the narrator and “the man with owl-eyed glasses”(Fitzgerald 111). The main hero seemed to direct his effort in thewrong area. Instead of living a decent life, having a loving familyand friends, Gatsby condemned himself to a lonely life and death.
Daisy’s vision of an ideal life makes her to decide to marry a manshe did not necessarily love. She married her because she soughtstability and security. After Daisy and Gatsby make love on the nightthat the former left for war, she soon decides to betray her love toGatsby. She did this by marrying Tom, a young man who had the abilityto give her a luxurious lifestyle. Nick Carroway describes Daisy’sattitude as a shallow one (Fitzgerald 67). Notably, this isattributable to the manner in which Daisy decides to leave Gatsby forTom. Later on, upon Gatsby’s return from war and studies at Oxford,she somewhat cheats on her husband with her former boyfriend (Rosch113). In the end, Daisy has an unsatisfactory ending since sherealizes she had not married the man she thought was the idealpersonification of safety and security.
Onthe contrary, to the similarities in the plays, there are aspects ofantagonism. First, Gatsby is seen as a wild young man who splasheshis wealth[ CITATION Ors41 l 1033 ]in efforts to convince Daisy. In this case, he is the reason whymarriage vows of" till death do us part" are broken. In“Citizen Kane” the mistress, Susan a singer who is said to lackany professionalism or qualifications is the Judas for Kane’s firstmarriage. It is unfortunate for the two events as the differencesbring in a new shift of events from sweet to sour.
Ifsomeone gave a story of the American dream and the reality of itslife it indeed left many broken in tears. The authors are out todetermine the facts and enlighten the general population thateverything comes with a price. It is clear that when the deal gets soconvincing then do a thorough check. Characters are deemed to fail inthe play due to the traditional negative virtues in our society. Theyinclude greed for power, egocentrism, and betrayal. It is high timethat people need to come out of the myth of the American dream. Inessence, the author shows that most of the characters that pursuedthe American dream had an unsatisfactory ending. George ends uplosing his wife after her illicit affair with the influential Tom.For Jay Gatsby, he ends up losing everything including his lifeduring the process of pursuing his dreams. Surprisingly, Daisy whomhe fights for ends up with Tom. For Daisy, she ends up marrying a manwho has a vengeful attitude contrary to what she expected. Therefore,the characters turn out to have quite an unsatisfactory finish at theend of the novel.
Insummary, writers use these plays to share the light of how realitywas far from the dreams. Most people who get convinced and swayaround with proper decisions in life would fall into such traps. Ithas come out that life in this great nation is not exactly whatpeople think. The hopes of many people who wanted to embrace thetheory of American dream ended up just like our characters in theplay. Money and other materials are not the basis for love andeducation do not guarantee success in life. People should startembracing their realistic lives and shun away the illusions thatoccupy their mind. TheGreat Gatsby depicts how the American dream can fail hence,bringing an unsatisfactory ending. Fitzgerald makes known themisconceptions that people have about the vision despite the dreamhaving been enshrined in America’s Declaration of Independence. Theauthor achieves this through the love triangle between the two maincharacters and an ancillary character, Daisy, Gatsby, and Tom. Inconcise, F. Scott Fitzgerald`s TheGreat Gatsby shows theblind pursuit of the American dream dooms the main characters to atragic ending. Therefore, this signifies that when people opt topursue the American vision without a proper understanding of what canmake such a dream a success, the results can be devastating.
Inconclusion, life will always give you chances as seen in thecontexts. The decisions made in life would always be very paramountto decide how far as an individual your success will go. Liferequires a little bit of critical thinking. Honesty would be asupreme virtue to encourage people to emulate or rather ignorancewould shut people down. The society keeps changing, and the lives weembrace in it matters as reputation and power and class are allthings that can be achieved through hard work and sacrifice.Similarly, they can as well be acquired through fraud and grabbingbut what matters is the personal happiness. Love cannot be bought oracquired based on material and personal belongings as it is doomed tofail. It is a scare to our lives that the above instances stillexists in our today societies and whoever ignores them then he or sheshall face the wrath of the American Dream. TheGreat Gatsbyfocuses on the failed conception of the American dream. The authorreveals the corrupted ideals that helped to build the American nationand shaped its features during two centuries. At the same time, thenovel presents the connection between the participants of the lovetriangle including Gatsby, Daisy and Tom. In conclusion, F. ScottFitzgerald proves that the American dream is doomed to fail. It isevident from Gatsby’s the self-deceptive worldview, unrealisticfeelings for Daisy and wrong vision of the American dream.
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