The Completion Of The American Dream In The Great Gatsby And Death Of A Salesman

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The idea of the concept was that success and happiness could be achieved through hard work and determination with clear and direct goals. ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘Death of a Salesman’ are two iconic pieces of literature which both represent in different ways the idea of the ‘American Dream.’ Both texts share the common idea on the ‘American Dream’ which is that social status equals economic prosperity and happiness. Arthur Miller author of ‘Death of a Salesman’, Baz Luhrmann director of ‘The Great Gatsby’ and F. Scott Fitzgerald author of ‘The Great Gatsby’ all used elements to portray in detail their own representations of the summarized argument of, “The idea of Social status equals economic prosperity and happiness will ultimately lead to corruption and failure of the dream.”.

Willy Loman, a 63-year-old, traveling salesman has been working for the same company doing the same job for 34 years. Towards the end of those 34 years, he receives a cut to his pay causing him to experience extreme difficulty in keeping up with his financial responsibilities. After these events, he becomes a very mentally distraught person. With the strain of his own inability to provide for his family coupled with his own illusory perspective on how to achieve “The American Dream”, Arthur Miller represents the severity of the mental strain with the plot element of the rubber pipe, first referenced on page 38. Arthur Miller shows Willy to be an extremely stubborn person as he does not take lightly to the possibility of him being wrong about this in which he is passionate about and devotes his life to such as the idea of Social Status equals economic prosperity and happiness. One key representation of this illusory idea is personified through Dave Singleman who was also a salesman, but he never had to travel all over the country to make sales. All he had to do was call up his buyers and would sell to them through those means as he was very well respected. Due to the story of Dave Singleman and his immense social status and economic value, Willy becomes eluded with the idea that if he becomes well respected and liked through society he will be able to attain economic prosperity and have the resources to provide for his family. This is clarified through the way in which Willy talks about Dave, Willy ultimately becomes so obsessed with this idea that he does not believe in the proper meaning of “The American Dream”, causing his perspective to be corrupted by this illusion and he eventually fails at attaining the dream.

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The story of Jay Gatsby, as recalled through the reliable narrator of Nick Caraway, is one of immense success and determination. Jay Gatsby personifies the success element of “The American Dream” as he came from a dirt-poor family of farmers from North Dakota. Jay had a very ambitious and determined nature about him as apparent through his immense economic prosperity over a small period of 5 years. Despite this immense wealth and success, Fitzgerald shows him to still be lacking happiness in his life in which he did once have during his time before the war, and with Daisy. Fitzgerald and Luhrmann both do represent this idea of lacking happiness through the use of a green light at the end of the docks in which Gatsby reaches out at to try and obtain. However, no matter how hard he tried he could never actually obtain the thing in which it represented (Daisy). When Jay then realizes he will only be truly happy with Daisy by his side, he then finds out that she has become apart of high society, so he devotes himself to attaining great economic and social status. His concern with social status is evident through the constant holding of lavish extravagant parties to impress Daisy, and the line in which he says to Nick Caraway. These elements evoke the perspective that Jay Gatsby believes, which is that if he attains great social status he will be able to achieve the true happiness he longs for in Daisy.

“Death of a Salesman” and “The Great Gatsby” both deal with main protagonists which are eluded by false methods of attaining aspects of “The American Dream” but have other parts in which they do not properly use and/or recognize. For Willy Loman, he does not recognize the extent of his possible happiness in which he could have with his loving and caring family but is blinded by his chase to provide for his family through means of economic and social prosperity. Jay Gatsby deals with the other end of the spectrum as he has immense amounts of wealth and success but does not use that wealth and success to realize how to properly win back Daisy to obtain the happiness he lacks. Miller and Fitzgerald both deal with protagonists which are deluded by different methods on how to attain either economic prosperity or happiness because they are blinded by their own perception of how important social status is. They are then corrupted by their illusions and ultimately fail at “The American Dream”. This links back to the idea of how the belief of social status equals economic prosperity and happiness can unfortunately lead to corruption and failure.

In summary, “The American Dream” in today’s society is a description on how to achieve success and happiness but can be misconstrued by public opinions and predetermined notions of methods which lead to the completion of “The American Dream”. This can lead to the perspectives of individuals believing in the idea that economic prosperity and happiness can be brought about by high social status. The two texts “Death of a Salesman” and “The Great Gatsby” both elaborate upon this idea and the realism of this by showing a practical representation of it. Their portrayal of this idea can be summarized as “The idea of social status = economic prosperity and happiness ultimately leads to corruption and failure of the dream.”


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