Explore the concept of ‘The American Dream’ in The Great Gatsby.

From his own American life he knew that with his generation the middle westerner had become the typical American and had returned from the old frontier to the East with a new set of dreams — about money. The allegorical level of the novel is brought out by John Henry Raleigh when in his essay ‘Legendary Bases and Allegorical Significances’ relates it with the relationship between the narrator Nick and Gatsby the protagonist : ‘Allegorically considered, Nick is reason, experience, waking, reality, and history, while Gatsby is imagination, innocence, sleeping, dream, and eternity. Nick is like Wordsworth listening to ‘the still sad music of humanity’, while Gatsby is like Blake seeing hosts of angels in the sun. The one can only look at the facts and see them as tragic; the other tries to transform the facts by an act of the imagination.

Nick’s mind is conservative and historical, as is his lineage; Gatsby’s is radical and apocalyptic — as rootless as his heritage. Nick is too much immersed in time and in reality; Gatsby is hopelessly out of it. Nick is always withdrawing, while Gatsby pursues the green light. Nick can’t be hurt, but neither can he be happy. Gatsby can experience ecstasy, but his fate is necessarily tragic.. They are generically two of the best types of humanity: the moralist and the radical.

One may well ask why, if their mental horizons are so lofty, is one a bond salesman and the other a gangster’s lieutenant, whose whole existence is devoted to a love affair that has about it the unmistakable stamp of adolescence? The answer is, I think, that Fitzgerald did not know enough of what a philosopher or revolutionary might really be like, that at this point in his life he must have always thought of love in terms of a Princeton Prom, and that, writing in the twenties, a bond salesman and a gangster’s functionary would seem more representative anyway.

Entering Princeton meant leaving, the Middle West, which was closed and conservative, for the East, which was rich and unprejudiced; it meant leaving the provincial city for an intellectually alive university campus; it meant, that is, confronting the reality of experience outside the shelter of the family circle. And, in fact, these years at princeton were the most intense and determinant phase of Fitzgerald’s development. It was at Princeton, especially after his return there in the fall of 19 16, that he came in touch for the first time with true culture. There he met Father Sigourney Fay Monsignor D’Arcy in This Side of Paradise), formed his ties of friendship with Joh Peale Bishop (Parke d’Invilliers in the same novel) and Edmund Wilson'(his intellectual conscience’, as he was later to describe him).

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