The Great Gatsby & the American Dream

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The Great Gatsby is an interesting and thought-provoking novel by the American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald that sets to explore important and complex social themes such as the hollowness of the upper class and the characteristics and decline of the American Dream during the prosperous years preceding the Great Depression. The Great Gatsby is presented at the surface as a thwarted love story between a man, Jay Gatsby, and a woman, Daisy Buchanan. However, the main theme of the novel goes beyond this and comprises a larger, and indeed less romantic, social context. Furthermore, despite the novel’s setting in New York during the summer of 1922 it is still a representation of America throughout the whole decade of the 1920s.

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The characters of The Great Gatsby are emblems of the economic and social changes of the 1920s. First, the narrator of the novel is Nick Carraway, a young man from Minnesota who graduated from Yale, fought in the world war and moved after that to New York to “learn the bond business” in 1922. Nick embodies the cosmopolitan section in society that is cynical from the experience in the war. He settles down in Long Island where he is able to rent a house in the West Egg district. The place is a fashionable and suburban area that is mainly populated by the rich class who are very keen on displaying their luxurious lifestyle.

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The Encyclopedia of Twentieth-century Fiction. Chichester, West Sussex, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. Psychological Politics of the American Dream: The Commodification of Subjectivity in . Twentieth-century American Literature. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1994.

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