The American Dream In Self Reliance And The Great Gatsby

The American Dream in Self Reliance and The Great Gatsby The American Dream remains viewed as the success which one obtains. The American Dream has had a great impact on literature as well as an impact on the changing of time periods. The 19th century Transcendentalists idea of the American Dream focuses on reaching ones goals by honest, hard work. On the other hand, Gatsbys idea of the American Dream in the 20th century centers on becoming successful by way of illegal money that was not acquired through working. Ultimately, the Transcendental and Gatsbys beliefs reveal a great deal of contrast.

The American Dream of the Transcendentalists centers on being all that one is meant to be. First of all, the ideas of the Transcendentalists did not revolve around society and materialistic possessions. Transcendentalists felt that society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of everyone of its members(from Self-Reliance 194). Also, Transcendentalists believed that The nation itself, with all its so-called internal improvements, which, by the way, are all external and superficial, is just such an unwieldy and overgrown establishment, cluttered with furniture and tripped up by its own traps, ruined by luxury and heedless expense (from Where I Lived and What I Lived For 212) and for which the only cure is simplicity. In addition, Transcendentalists believed that man should live life to the fullest by seeking to reach their potential.

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Thoreau did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I [Thoreau] could best see the moonlight amid the mountains (from Conclusion 217). Seeking to reach ones potential means that one must Absolve you to yourself, and you should have the suffrage of the world (from Self-Reliance 194). Furthermore, the Transcendentalists sought self-knowledge through the study of nature. Nature never became a toy to a wise spirit. The flowers, the animals, the mountains, reflected the wisdom of his best hour, as much as they had delighted the simplicity of his childhood (from Nature 191). The life in us is like the water in the river (from Conclusion 217) because some days one rises like the river and drowns out all of ones problems. Most importantly, the ideas of nonconformity and individualism illustrate the Transcendentalist beliefs.

Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist (from Self-Reliance 194) shows that every man should have a unique quality that separates him from other men. If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears , however measured or far away (from Conclusion 217). Although the Transcendentalists believed in honesty and working hard to reach their goals, Gatsby acquired his money as quickly and as wrongfully as possible without working. Initially, Gatsby felt that society and materialistic possessions made the better person.

Owning a mansion, many cars, a pool, a hydroplane, and many servants, Gatsby viewed his materialistic wealth as the means by which he would be accepted by society. In addition, Gatsby did not live his life to the fullest in order to reach his potential. Gatsby could have been more than a boot-legger and a gambler, but he chose the way that would bring him wealth and what he thought was happiness. Moreover, he did not seek knowledge through nature, but through money. Money bought Gatsby everything he needed to know. The closest Gatsby came to nature was going for a ride in his hydroplane which he seldom did.

Most importantly, the ideas of nonconformity and individualism in The Great Gatsby directly contrast from those values of Transcendentalism. Everyone in this book feels that they must act a certain way to be accepted by society. Gatsbys use of old sport illustrates his perception of a rich man. Gatsby also feels that possessing the finest of everything remains the reason why society accepts him. The American Dreams of the Transcendentalists and of Gatsby directly contrast one another.

The Transcendentalists do not believe in materialistic possession whereas the key to Gatsbys success is his materialistic wealth. While the Transcendentalists strive to reach their potential, Gatsby accepts a free ride to the top of society. Undoubtedly, as time changes, the American Dreams are bound to change; however, one aspect will always remain the same, and that is obtaining the satisfaction of success.


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