Wednesday, March 20, 2013

American Dream: The Great Gatsby and A Raisin in the Sun

The American Dream plays a crucial role in both the Great Gatsby and a Raisin in the Sun, after all, the things that happen in each novel happens as a direct result of the characters trying to accomplish certain goals and achieve certain things; their American Dreams. Even though this dream is present in both novels, it is showcased in different ways. In the Great Gatsby, the American Dream is personified, as it is present in the form of a person; Daisy Buchanan. Jay Gatsby comes from a poor family which motivated him to search for a better life; a life superior to the poverty stricken one he was accustomed to. Eventually, Gatsby rose to the top of wealth, but his mission was only halfway complete. Making up for his poor childhood came in second to Daisy as his main reason for acquiring this wealth. The money was never his real dream; it was merely a step closer to acquiring his actual dream which was to have the lovely Daisy at his side. He used his wealth to compete with Tom Buchanan. Ultimately, Gatsby’s “American dream” was unsuccessful as he never won Daisy over, and instead she stayed with Tom. This was symbolized by the green light going out. 
In a Raisin in the Sun, the characters American dream is more stereotypical when compared to the Great Gatsby. They dream of simply living a better life than the one they have, even though the majority of their definitions of a better life are different. For example, Mama and Ruth dream of owning their own house in a better neighborhood and getting the family out of their current unsatisfying living situation while Beneatha dreams of getting an education, becoming a doctor and not being dependent on men for anything she needs. Each of their specific dreams is different but it all falls in the same category of wanting a better life. At that time, the stereotypical American dream, which is what kind of dream Mama and Ruth had, was very materialistic. The prosperous people displayed their wealth with material things, whether it be clothes, a house, or cars and so the Youngers, who had never had any of those things, dreamed of having a plethora of materialistic things just like the wealthy people which is why Mama and Ruth wanted a new house. Beneatha’s dream was more selfish, as she was mainly concerned with herself but like everyone else, her dream in general was to live a better life than the one she has.  
When compared, the two novels are similar on some levels but then very different on others. They are similar in the fact that Jay Gatsby and Mama, Ruth, Walter and Beneatha all wanted wealth and all of their American dreams, if completed, would've filled a void in their life. If Gatsby had gotten Daisy to fall in love with him, that would have removed the lonely feeling in his life and he would have finally been able to fit in with the other wealthy people, and also he would have a satisfied love life, which is what he wanted. The Youngers used their wealth to make up for the poverty they had experienced for the majority of their lives. The difference is though, the characters in a Raisin in the sun, valued wealth more as opposed to Gatsby. Gatsby had all of the money in the world but it was no use without Daisy.
While both novels had some similar dreams and aspects, they differed on the importance of certain things which is all the American dream is. The American dream is different for different individuals, it’s all just based on what you truly value in life and what you ultimately hope to accomplish.


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