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The Dream in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

The Dream and The Great Gatsby

The story of America is an exciting one, filled with swift evolution and an amazing energy unprecedented in world history. In America’s short existence, it has progressed from a small collection of European rebels to the economically dominant nation that it is today. Mixed up in the provocative reputation of America is the celebrated ideal of the American Dream, the fantasy of complete independence and self-reliance mixed with the opportunity to attain wealth through one’s labors. On the surface, this reverie seems almost enchanted, offering people the unprecedented prospect of achieving success regardless of one’s race, religion, or family history. The American Dream is exactly what it appears to be; the opportunity of utopia, the ceaseless temptation of pleasure, the undying knowledge that eternal bliss lies just around the corner. But the very nature of this fantasy prevents the enjoyment of the success one has earned, as the temptation is always nagging, always insisting for more progress, urging one to work a little harder and gain a little more. The American Dream destroys any opportunity of complacency; its very essence, the immense libido it inspires and the eternal need for progression that it creates in the hearts of its followers makes any true realization of the mythical nirvana impossible.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is an immortal illustration of the paradox of the American Dream. The novel begins by describing an intense infatuation with the American Dream. The characters are emphatically American, striving towards the goals of independence and financial success. The story is seen through the eyes of Nick Carraway, a unique narrator in that he gradually …

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…nstead of enjoying his accomplishments – always struggling “against the current,” only to be pushed “back ceaselessly into the past.” But the Dream is so enticing and powerful that it can influence even the wisest people; Nick realized the folly in Gatsby’s feverous Dream-enticed struggling, yet continues to “beat on” towards his own Dream. While the Dream itself is a vision of intense prosperity, the phenomenon of the American Dream inveigles people not to prosper, but to endure, because the insistent pressure the dream puts on one to continue to progress will never allow prosperity. The Dream is not a means to an end; rather, it is a way of life, a non-tangible, non-achievable, hyperbolic myth – a mirage in the desert of eternity, always just one step out of reach.

Works Cited

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 1925.

The Pursuit of Honor in Homer’s Iliad

The Pursuit of Honor in Homer’s Iliad

Throughout history, people have pondered the question of human mortality. In examining the issue, the Ancient Greeks, came to the conclusion that there are two spheres of immortality: that which is reserved for the Gods and that which can be attained by mere mortals. The Gods are destined to eternal youth and life; however, for humans who are predestined to die, this existence is impossible to attain. Rather, humans must strive to gain everlasting honor, the only form of immortality available to them.

It is this idea that Homer seeks to expound in his epic poem, “The Iliad.” Throughout his poem, Homer depicts the degree to which honor plays a role in the lives of the Greeks, and the manner in which they are willing to sacrifice in order to reach their goal. This theme manifests itself from the outset of the work, as “The Iliad,” is set during the Trojan war, a particularly long and bloody war, fought not over political differences, not over boundary disagreements and not to protect the nation. Rather, it was a war fought to defend and uphold the honor of one individual, Menelaous whose wife had been stolen from him by the Trojan prince, Paris.

This is the value that suffuses the narrative of “The Iliad.” According to the axioms of Greek society, one must defend his status and prevent shame from being brought upon him, at all costs. “…[M]y father, he sent me to troy, and urged upon me repeated injunctions, to be always among the bravest and hold my head above others, not shaming the generation of my fathers…” (VI 206-9) This is the Greek bible, the guide to proper decorum. A man’s honor, and the honor which he brings his father, is paramount.

Hektor, the bravest of the Troj…

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…: Hackett Publishing Co., 1994.

Richardson, Nicholas. 1993. The Iliad : A Commentary. Vol. VI: books 21-24. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Schein, Seth L. The Mortal Hero: An Introduction to Homer’s Iliad. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984.

Silk, M. S. Homer: The Iliad. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

Stanford, W. B. The Ulysses Theme: A Study in the Adaptability of a Traditional Hero. Dallas, TX: Spring Publications, 1992.

Steiner, George, and Fagles, Robert, eds. Homer: A Collection of Critical Essays. Twentieth Century Views, ed. Maynard Mack. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice Hall, 1962.

Van Nortwick, Thomas. Somewhere I have travelled: the hero’s journey. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Whitman, Cedric H. Homer and the Heroic Tradition. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1958.

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