The Dream : A Psychoanalytic Reading of the Conceptualization of the American Dream in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

University essay from Högskolan i Gävle/Avdelningen för humaniora

Abstract: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s critically acclaimed classic The Great Gatsby, written in 1925, poetically captures the zeitgeist of the roaring twenties, and has attracted considerable attention regarding the depiction of the American dream. Early critics argued that it offered a rendition of the quintessential American dream, claiming that the novel stays true to the dream’s original values. However, this analysis makes an effort to reveal the false materialistic values that corrupt and taint the vision of the original American dream projected in the narrative. More specifically, the analysis attempts to demonstrate that the core values of the American dream are gradually distorted and corrupted throughout the novel. Moreover, the novel is approached through the use of certain psychoanalytic concepts which are concerned with mental processes and constructions of personality. By applying these psychoanalytic concepts to Jay Gatsby, the analysis investigates the gradual perversion of the dream through a number of passages and pivotal moments throughout the novel as to showcase the reasons why the dream is perverted. The analysis concludes that the investigated events in fact demonstrate a gradual perversion of the American dream. Furthermore, the essay showcases a clear causal connection between the disrupted balance in the mental processes within Gatsby and the investigated events. The stressful events that Gatsby experiences prompt certain cognitive responses within Gatsby, causing him to pervert the American dream and its core values.

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