The Decline Of The American Dream In

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The Decline Of The American Dream In Great Gatsby And A Streetcar Named Desire Essay, Research Paper Through the study of two of American literature’s classics, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, the decline of the American Dream is evident. Fitzgerald uses the East and West to compare the moral decline of each, while Williams uses the Old South and the New South to distinguish the differences in morality. The American Dream is just that, a dream. A long-lost hope based on the idea that anyone can succeed in America. The phrases, “from rags to riches” and “poor boy makes good” do not apply in either of the works. The characters in both of the titles are unsuccessful in the pursuit of their dreams. With

respect to all of the characters, it is apparent that people can’t move up to higher social classes, hard work doesn’t pay off, there isn’t an equal opportunity to succeed, and foremost, money doesn’t mean happiness. Primarily, it is evident in both works that the American Dream has declined by means of the social class structure. It is obvious in both pieces that moving to a higher class is no longer possible in the American society. In The Great Gatsby, Myrtle Wilson, Tom Buchanan’s mistress, wanted so badly to become a part of the upper class, the “old”, inherited money. Her dream was to have a chance to mingle among the elite crowd, and to have gotten herself out of the “valley of ashes.” Myrtle lived in a garage with her husband, George Wilson. They

represent the lower class, because they don’t live on Long Island, where the wealthy live. She attempted to realize her dream of fortune through her affair with Tom. She thought that if she loved Tom, he would eventually leave Daisy. Myrtle was oblivious to the fact that Tom had no intentions of ever marrying her. He lied to her by saying that Daisy was Catholic, and that prohibited he and Daisy from getting a divorce. This is a clear example of the lower class being rejected by the upper class. Tom just wanted to use her for his own pleasure; he didn’t want to save her from the lower class. Similarly in A Streetcar Named Desire, it is apparent that there is “nowhere to go but down” on the social scale. Blanche DuBois represents the Old South and the aristocracy. Her

sister, Stella, left their plantation home to pursue a new life. Stella didn’t succeed economically, and by marrying Stanley, plummeted to the lower class. When Blanche visited Stella, Blanche didn’t approve of her sister’s living conditions. While living with her sister, Blanche asked Stella where their maid was. When Stella informed her that they didn’t have a maid, Blanche snobbishly disapproved of Stella’s lower class life. Another example of the impossible acceptance to a higher social class is Gatsby himself. He knew that Daisy wouldn’t marry him as a young man because “rich girls don’t marry poor boys.” Therefore, he made all of his money in an attempt to attain the status of being rich. When he got his fancy house and expensive car he was dubbed as

“new” money. He resided on the West Egg, and wasn’t accepted by the aristocracy. Even though he had made his money, he wasn’t recognized by the upper class. Klipspringer, Gatsby’s boarder, played a song on the piano that recited the words: “the rich get richer and the poor get–children.” This is juxtaposed with Gatsby’s meeting with Daisy. It shows that the poor people can never become rich. They will spend their money on children, as the rich continue to roll in their money. It also foreshadows Gatsby’s decline, and is symbolic of Gatsby nonacceptance by the rich class. Similarly Mitch also represents a failure to become the upper class. Blanche may have loved him, but she didn’t love him enough to settle down with a man of a lower class. Her Old South