Sunday, December 9, 2012

The decline of the American Dream

The decline of the American Dream is one of the main features in the novel The Great Gatsby.  Novelists of the time often wrote about the American Dream, is a positive scene. Fitzgerald explores both the positive and negative effects of the American Dream. On the surface the novel is a romantic story with scandal and affair but it also explores a much deeper meaning of the desire to want more, and the feeling of never being satisfied!  Post World War One morale was low as was the economy this effected the popularity of the novel at the time, people did not want to read about the excess of disposable income and the desire to want even more materialistic items! The novel is of the typical American Dream era, and examines the ideas of prosperity and material excess. However Fitzgerald illustrates how the idea of having everything you desire can still leave you feeling empty and wanting more. This emotion is expressed through the character of Gatsby, who appears to have all the materialistic items his heart desires but he is missing an important element of happiness; love from Daisy, something which money cannot buy. Leaving us with the question, as Gatsby has come from a background of wealth does this mean he cannot achieve the idea of the American Dream? And does this mean he already has achieved it, in being rich and successful due to his background? And finally does this mean the American Dream does not provide you with everything?
The characters in the novel each represent the social trends in America at the time, and how the different forms of class act with one another, behavior of which still exists in today’s society.  Gatsby and Daisy cannot be together as they are from different social classes. Gatsby throws extravagant parties, in order to lure Daisy in, he has a desire to spend and succeed.  The novel explores the idea that any class can obtain wealth this is a feature of the American Dream, and even though Nick becomes successful and rich and in the eyes of some, it could be said that he has achieved the idea of the American Dream yet he still returns to Minnesota. He does so because it is said that during the time Minnesota was where American values were not being forgotten about or disposed of. Which is what is happening to New York at the time.
Post World War One, the economy rises and there is more available disposable income, Fitzgerald illustrates how this does not always bring a positive effect.  

The popular American reality TV show ‘Laguna Beach’ represents today’s idea of ‘Old money’. The series gives viewers an in site in to what it is like to live in Orange County, and how young teens live off their parent’s money. The teenagers illustrate images of fabulous, extravagant lifestyles and are living the idea of the American Dream. There are similar features which appear in both The Great Gatsby and Laguna Beach, which are; Wealth, popularity, excessive spending and the idea of old money. Two of the most famous teenager in the series is still popular today.
Lauren Conrad is a character in the series who was preserved as the more down to earth character however she did have some materialistic values. Lauren Conrad lives in Los Angles California today after obtaining a degree at the Fashion institute of design and Marketing. Lauren has published several books and has two of her own fashion lines. I believe Lauren Conrad is a modern adaptation of the character Nick in the novel, although Lauren has come from money, she aims high and succeeds in aspects of her life, to become successful in her own right.

Heidi Montag another character from the series, also has many materialistic values, and after the Laguna Beach series come to an end, Heidi follows the footsteps of Lauren Conrad and moves to LA, where she too enrolls in a university course. However she later drops out and things start to go downhill for Heidi. During 2010 Heidi, underwent ten plastic surgery procedures in one day! Heidi's idea of perfection was becoming so over the top that this created a great deal of hype in the media, and still today the media are fascinated on the excess of Heidi’s extreme make over! Heidi explains in an interview that “In America you can do what you want” Making us think is this a belief which is shared by many American citizens, and is the result of this belief resulting in American citizens taking such drastic measures to improve their self image?  I believe the character of Heidi, shares many similarities with the character Gatsby, although she has been exposed to a life of wealth and financial security, there is still something she believes she is missing, much like the character Gatsby who feels he is missing something in his life although his is something money cannot buy! The transformation of Heidi Montag shows the negative effect of the America Dream, in that having money does not provide you with everything. 

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