Deconstructing Illusions: The American Dream in “The Great Gatsby”

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The Great Gatsby and the Satirical Pursuit of the American Dream

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was written about a satirical story that embraces American ideals. The narrator, Nick Carraway, describes Gatsby’s satirical life, his incredible parties, and the amount of money he has. When reading the book, there is a lot deeper meaning than the luxuries some people have. Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby to portray the ideal American dream and a real look at the fancy lifestyles everyone wishes they had in America.

Gatsby’s Shirts and Daisy: A Glimpse into the American Dream

Fitzgerald expresses the American ideal with a satirical story between Daisy and Gatsby. Looking more deeply at Fitzgerald’s writing, when Daisy goes to Gatsby’s house for the first time, she is shocked about Gatsby’s shirts, “He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one, before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel… Suddenly, with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily.

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“They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such beautiful shirts before.” The point of Fitzgerald adding this is because Gatsby was not proper, and he’s making a point that it’s okay not to follow some guidelines. When Daisy starts to cry in front of Gatsby, she’s crying because of how Gatsby had so many-colored shirts he was throwing, not because she has not seen him in 5 years. That proves being wealthy is a need for Daisy to be in a relationship.

Parties, Popularity, and the American Dream’s Facade

Fitzgerald also expresses satire about the American dream ideal when Gatsby throws huge parties and everyone, even people who were not invited, finds a way to go to the parties. When Nick Carraway goes to Gatsby’s house the first time, he states, “I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby’s house, I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited — they went there. Sometimes they came and went without having met Gatsby at all, came for the party with a simplicity of heart that was its own ticket of admission.” Clearly, the people who were not invited were acting carelessly at the party, and they would not tell people directly, but they were moving from house to house like a moth to only get the gossip and the champagne.

Fitzgerald also adds, “his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars… and stocked with gins and liquors and with cordials so long forgotten that most of his female guests were too young to know one from another”. Fitzgerald added that because Gatsby’s female guests are quite young to know the difference between what drinks were being served. This shows how the American dream ideal that the younger you are, the better because girls started to go to parties and meet men without knowing what everything meant.

The Downfall of Gatsby: The American Dream’s Harsh Reality

The last of the American ideal is how Fitzgerald mentioned Gatsby’s personal life in the book. Gatsby went from being poor to out of nowhere getting an inheritance from a friend and becoming ridiculously wealthy. Gatsby is a figure of the American dream because people wanted that life so badly. In society, people believed the American dream was “big money, big house, and parties.” However, reading the book, the American dream was not real, and it would die eventually. The moment when the story is set at Gatsby’s funeral, and Tom says, “..Mr. Nobody from Nowhere..” Well, Tom is saying even though Gatsby was wealthy and famous, people only cared for his parties; Gatsby was not seen as “popular” in others’ eyes.

Even Though Fitzgerald showed a satirical story between Daisy and Gatsby, he also showed other strangers the luxurious life of the people they know. Fitzgerald wrote the book to feel what it was like back then: people’s luxurious lives and their dark sides. The American dream was not the perfect life after all. The Great Gatsby showed the American Dream as someone starting low on the economic or status level or working really hard towards becoming wealthy and having fame. In the 1920s, people wanted to be rich, popular, and happy, but Gatsby thought money would fix his happiness, but money doesn’t buy happiness.


  1. Fitzgerald, F. S. (1925). The Great Gatsby. Scribner.
  2. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. 1925. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner.

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Deconstructing Illusions: The American Dream in “The Great Gatsby”. (2023, Aug 24). Retrieved from

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