13th June 2018

American Dream

This essay discusses the falsity of the American Dream through Fitzgerald portraying setting. I will talk about three settings throughout this essay: The Valley of Ashes, East Egg, and West Egg. These settings will be explained and illustrated with examples from the text. The Valley of Ashes will represent the people who work for the American dream but cannot get there, it is the working class waste zone of the rich. West Egg is a wealthy place of “New Money”, this means that the people there have worked and earned their money towards the dream recently. Finally East Egg is another wealthy place but it is of “Old Money”, this is because all of the money was inherited and not earned personally, they were born with wealth in pursuit of the American Dream.

The Valley of Ashes is a very clear example of the falsity of the American Dream. It shows the people who live there that work so hard to get the Dream but will never reach it, they are the poor hard workers and get the waste of the wealthy dumped on them. The Valley and the lives of its inhabitants basically represents the dirty consequences of people wanting riches. People there are neither born into money or earn very much. An example of this is George Wilson, he is a shy, plain character in the book but he works very hard in his garage but is fairly unsuccessful with it. Himself, like many of the residents of the valley, he’s “tied there” as he really has nowhere else to go. George has inevitably failed to reach the American dream as he cannot leave and he cannot make enough money, even his own wife Myrtle is having an affair with Tom Buchanan because George can’t get her what she wants and Tom is rich. It is as if Wilson’s dream has died and it is represented in the text by him being covered in dust and his eyes looking pale and bored. In conclusion the Valley of Ashes and all the residents there are poor, run down, working class people who have or once had a dream but it is impossible for them to reach and most have almost given up but still work hard to sustain themselves. The concept of the Valley of Ashes is a waste zone for the rich.

In comparison, West Egg is a place of wealth. All of the people and their riches are deemed “new money”, this means that they have earned the money recently and most likely from the city. The residents have generally moved to New York from somewhere else to make money and get a home. An example of this is Nick Carraway, the narrator and a character from the book. Nick is from Minnesota and he moved to New York to learn the bonds business, he is renting a small house next to Gatsbys’ on the tip of West Egg. West egg is not as flashy and rich as East Egg and this is supported in the book by a quote from Nick: “I lived at West Egg, the – well, the least fashionable of the two” (Chapter 1, Page 9). Wealthy people from East Egg don’t like the thought of new money and think they are better than them. West Egg-ers know this and almost start to believe it themselves, that there is not a fair chance between everybody. In my opinion it is the residents of East Egg, who were born into money, who have the advantage, yes the money was earned somewhere along the line but the ones who inherit it act as if they have worked for it themselves. This rivalry between East and West shows that the people from West Egg see that there is always someone above them and are beat at the continental game of the American Dream.

East Egg is another wealthy place except unlike West Egg, the people there are of “old money”. This means that the money was already there for them and was most likely inherited. All the houses are massive mansions with big estates. People here basically think they are better than all the others. They look down on those working for money to reach the dream. It’s like they have a head start at reaching the American Dream but they don’t realise it, and if someone is making money from a job in New York like bonds and they are moving up in the ranks they think of it as cheating at the Dream when really they are the ones who just bore a name to get riches as easy as that. A quote to show how East Egg is portrayed as more fashionable than West Egg is by Tom Buchanan: “Oh, I’ll stay in the East, don’t you worry. I’d be a God Damn fool to live anywhere else.” (Chapter 1, Page 15). This is Tom saying that he would never live anywhere else because it would not be right for him as he thinks since he is so upper class there is nowhere else suitable for him and he would be out of place socially and economically, according to his status of the American dream.

In Conclusion the three settings, Valley of Ashes, West Egg, and East Egg all show the falsity of the American Dream. The Valley of Ashes shows working class citizens who bear the waste of the rich, they work hard but will never reach The Dream and the whole place seems like an eerie, bored, forgotten omen. West Egg is a place of new souls, people working their way up to the Dream, recently moved to New York and have often got a job in the city. East Egg is a rich, top class zone of people who have inherited family money and are now considered rich and live there. There are massive mansions and the social life is very high end, they look down on others as if they rule over the American dream with power and riches.


Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Hi Angus,

    Next time you come to writing an essay, have a think about the following things:

    Ensure you have fully developed all of your ideas. In this piece, your reader is left wondering exactly what the American Dream is. Ensure you explain things in enough detail so anyone could read it.
    Be careful that your explanations of setting don’t veer off into something else. At times, you tip too far into character analysis.
    Ensure you have supporting quotations from the book for all your points.

    Mrs. P


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