“Life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness.” That is the American Dream.  In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, we read about the 1920’s and the characters’
pursuit of the American Dream. This novel is an American classic set in the
roaring twenties. The novel is narrated by a young man by the name of Nick Caraway,
who is also Daisy’s cousin. As we read the novel, we learn about Gatsby and the
other characters as they try to strive for and pursue the American Dream. In
the novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald illustrates the American Dream, the life of the people
who pursue it, and the impact of that pursuit all through his portrayal of Jay
Gatsby’s life and the people who surround him.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel depicts the American Dream through the
many characters as they are described by the novel’s narrator, Nick. “It
passed, and he began to talk excitedly to Daisy, denying everything, defending
his name against accusations that had not been made. But with every word she
was drawing further and further into herself, so he gave that up and only the
dead dream fought on as the afternoon slipped away, trying to touch what was no
longer tangible, struggling unhappily, undespairingly, toward that lost voice
across the room” (144). In this quote, we get insight into how Tom, Daisy’s
husband, is unfaithful and unhappy in his marriage and yet is trying to defend
his doings just so Daisy won’t leave him. Daisy knows she’s being cheated on by
her husband, but she continues being with him even if she’s unhappy and she
knows it. Gatsby is also pursuing a dream that never came true, as told in the
novel. “I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light
at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his
dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it” (180).
His dream is being with Daisy, but it was an impossible one. As Nick put it,
Gatsby’s dream seemed so possible and simple for him, for from the perception
of others, it is a dream that is way too far for his reach.

 Although all the characters
seek the pursuit of the American Dream, they don’t all achieve what they are
striving for. Even the characters that already have the life of the American
Dream are not happy with it. In the novel, we read about the life of the
characters of Tom and his wife Daisy. “Her husband, among various physical accomplishments,
had been one of the most powerful ends that ever played football at New Haven—a
national figure in a way, one of those men who reach such an acute limited
excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of anti-climax. His
family were enormously wealthy—even in college his freedom with money was a
matter for reproach.” (8) They have everything that they need and want: wealth,
riches, fame and everything everyone else wishes for.  But they are very unhappy in their relationship
as Daisy loves another man– Gatsby, and Tom is constantly cheating on Daisy
with another mistress. Daisy’s dream is not complete with just wealth or fame,
but it is also about maintaining a high status. Daisy tries to maintain her
good reputation by staying with her husband, Tom, despite his infidelity.  Although Tom is unfaithful with Daisy, he
still loves her and does his best to stay with her. Their pursuit of the
American Dream effects Gatsby because he is unable to pursue his dream of being
with Daisy.

Another character who also has the American Dream is Jay Gatsby.
Gatsby is portrayed as this character who is wealthy and very famous. He has a
great fortune yet that is still not enough for him. “His heart beat fast and
faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed
this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath,
his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening
for moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he
kissed her. As his lips touch blossomed for him like a flower and the
incarnation was complete” (134). Gatsby’s dream is to ultimately be with the
woman he loves, Daisy.  However, he is
unable to pursue this dream because he does not have a respectable position or
reputation. When the others learn that Gatsby became wealthy through criminal
ways, it changes their view of him and Daisy does not want to ruin her
reputation by being with such a flawed man.