The American Dream in the Great Gatsby/ the Grapes of Wrath

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jackturton
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Any thoughts on the American Dream in the Great Gatsby and the Grapes of Wrath (and how the Great Depression could have affected it)?
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(Original post by jackturton)
Any thoughts on the American Dream in the Great Gatsby and the Grapes of Wrath (and how the Great Depression could have affected it)?
In Gatsby, the American Dream is very much based upon materialism. Think about how Gatsby and Wolfsheim make their money and how Tom and Daisy have always had money. Consider the differences between 'old money' and 'new money' in the novel. This links closely with West and East Egg as settings. Think about Daisy's reaction to Gatsby's shirts, why is it that she reacts this way? It's also worth looking at Gatsby's parties for signs of exuberance.

This is in stark contrast to Wilson and Myrtle. They want more but can't achieve it in reality. Look at the way Myrtle changes around Tom compared to her behaviour around Wilson -look at what Tom's wealth enables her to do which Wilson can never give her. She spends Tom's money but also comments on her husbands 'breeding'. (Feminist criticism can be applied here, why can he only achieve wealth through a man and not on her own?).

Also think about the black people driving around with a white chauffeur, what does this suggest about changes in society at the time, contrast this with Tom's racism. Are both the black people and Tom & Daisy living the American dream?

Finally, think about what the American dream means to you and contrast this with all the characters. Could it be said that ANY of the characters are living this dream? The majority of them have somewhat corrupt relationships, what does this say about the American Dream itself? Is it ever actually achievable?

I don't know anything about Grapes of Wrath but I hope what I've said about Gatsby can be of help to you


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