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Great Gatsby & Death of a Salesman: Comparison

Uploaded by trexie on Oct 19, 2002

There are two versions of the American Dream. The historical dream is the promise of a land of freedom with opportunity and equality for all. However since 1900, the American Dream has come to mean a dream of financial success.(1) With material success, it is expected that happiness of every kind will follow. America is seen as the “land of opportunity”. Ultimately both Fitzgerald and Miller see the American Dream as a failure.

For Jay Gatsby, obtaining the material dream is a means to personal fulfilment, but for Willy Loman this concept is reversed: personal fulfilment is a means to obtaining the material dream. Miller presents a confused dream through Willy Loman who cannot separate the issues of wealth and being “well liked”:

“Be liked and you will never want”

Here, Miller is illustrating the myth that in order to be professionally and financially successful, to be popular is essential. Willy immerses himself in a past where commerce and emotion were linked. In this way, Miller is presenting the American Dream as a concept unable to change with time. Miller presents a dream that is carried by America’s individuals who will not allow contemporary society to kill it off, as shown in Happy’s vow to continue Willy’s dream after his death. In both texts the Dream is presented as an all-consuming force. I think that the “pulpless halves” of the oranges and lemons left after Gatsby’s parties represent how Fitzgerald feels about how twenties society treated it’s dreamers. Gatsby was used in life, but forgotton in death when the party was over. I think he views the party guests as the “pulpless halves” who consume all that they are given without a thought about who gave it to them. Miller also presents this idea of the American Dream as consuming:

“You can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away- a man is not a piece of fruit!”

Willy feels his sales company has used him. The pursuit of the dream is presented as selfish as it leads people to use others.. The writers present the unrestrained desire for money and pleasure as leading to corrupt methods of achieving the Dream. There was a great belief that money was the route to happiness. The Dream consumed people to the extent that they cheated in order to obtain it. For example, Gatsby bootlegs in an era of prohibition in the belief that acquiring wealth will attract...

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Uploaded by:   trexie

Date:   10/19/2002

Category:   The Great Gatsby

Length:   12 pages (2,589 words)

Views:   11219

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