Achieving the American Dream can be seen as a difficult struggle. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller explicate different struggles in achieving the American Dream. The American Dream is the idea of always wanting bigger and better. It is the endless pursuit of the pursuit of happiness in having a bigger, better life. This was similarly quoted in A Quilt of a Country by Anna Quindlen. Anna stated, “A mongrel nation built of ever-changing disparate parts, it is held together by a notion, the notion that all men are created equal, though everyone knows that most men consider themselves better than someone. (Quindlen).” Most will never achieve the American Dream until they can come to an understanding of how to balance out knowledge from the brain and wisdom from the heart. Jay Gatsby and Willy Lomanstruggled with achieving their American Dream, which shows it is a universal struggle. While everyone has a different version of happiness, the dream is always about having better and more than what you currently have with no true end goal.
In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby struggles with his American Dream because of a girl named Daisy. He did everything for Daisy. Gatsby lived his life obsessed with trying to fulfill Daisy’s desires. He stated, ‘I’m going to fix everything just the way it was before,’ he said nodding determinedly. She’ll see. (Fitzgerald, 110).’ By this, Gatsby made it understood that it was a particular struggle for him to achieve his American Dream. This was due to the fact he could never fulfill Daisy’s true wants. As time passed, Daisy changed. She was not the same person as when they met. Gatsby loved her so much that he made her his own American Dream which was to repeat the past to be reassembled with Daisy again. Gatsby failed his American Dream because he never won over Daisy and got her back into his life. Willy Loman felt this need of becoming reconnected with his past as well. In Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman felt his American Dream reflected around his children, Biff and Ben. He loved his children greatly, but he never got the chance to fully know who they were. He always felt that he could never do anything right and this was his struggle with his American Dream. He stated “I get here, and I don't know what to do with myself. I've always made a point of not wasting my life, and every time I come back here I know that all I've done is to waste my life (Miller, 62).” Willy understood his struggle, but it was difficult to admit it to himself. Willy’s struggle stemmed from his obsession of achieving a relationship with his children that was lost years ago. Willy Loman and Jay Gatsby both had similar struggles in achieving their American Dream. They both had problems with money and each had a strong desire for success. Willy
believed if he was attractive and well-liked, then he achieved the American Dream. Hogan states Willy has “ applied himself; he has been diligent and thrifty; he has extolled the businessman’s virtues; he has tried to be “well-liked. (Fitzgerald, 40).” Based on this he should have been rewarded, but no reward comes. Willy is numbly baffled by his failure. Willy didn’t achieve his American Dream because he was repeatedly stuck in his own delusion of achieving it. His delusion was that he already believed he achieved his dreams of becoming the best, which stopped him from actually achieving it. Willy believed he already achieved his American Dream and was unable to balance out knowledge and wisdom successfully. Gatsby also believed he achieved many of the best opportunities around money.
Gatsby grew up having little money, but eventually became wealthy. He made his money illegally. However, unlike Willy, Gatsby actually made money. In The Great Gatsby, money and materialism were a big motivator, and a basis of many relationship issues in the book. This was expressed by Gatsby describing Daisy as, “full of money-that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it.. High in white palace the kings daughter, the golden girl (Fitzgerald, 99).” This expressed how Gatsby thought Daisy was the greatest and highest person. As a symbol of wealth, Gatsby’s wish to be with her to overcome and achieve what he didn’t have as a child: states and money. Gatsby believed that she was the happiness that would lead himself to a better life. However, what he was really searching for was a more fulfilling relationship. One where Gatsby and his partner felt the same for each other. This was an impossible dream with Daisy as she only loved money. Materialism and money revolved around Willy and Gatsby’s failure of achieving the American Dream throughout each book. Even though Jay Gatsby and Willy Loman lived different lives, they had similar downfalls. They were caught up and distracted by their own illusion of the American Dream. At Willy and Gatsby’s funeral, no one attended and they each had desires of wanting to go back in time to achieve their past goals. The American Dream is unachievable and leads to dissatisfaction
because it’s unending. Because no one went to their funeral, it shows that no one really knew them. They both wanted a bigger and better life, but, even at the end, their American Dream was never fulfilled. Before Gatsby went to war he lived in Louisville and fell deeply in love for Daisy. However, Daisy fell in love with Tom when he went to war. Once she married Tom, she crushed Gatsby’s real dream apart. This was analyzed by Nick stating Gatsby “looked around him widely, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out if reach of his hand. (Fitzgerald, 110).” Gatsby struggled with his desire of wanting to return to the past. He was so utterly obsessed with his past happiness with Daisy that he only pictured his future involving with Daisy being in it. This was Gatsby’s version of true happiness from his heart, but it had no end. Willy also had similar issues of attaining his true happiness.
Willy strongly believed he was something he wasn’t. He believed he was a successful salesman, as well as popular, famous, and rich. However, these were all delusions. This was shown when Willy stated “I realized what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been. (Miller, 6).” Willy knew his lie once it was brought by his sons, Biff and Ben. They knew the real him and confronted him about this, which broadened his mind. Analyzing Keeping the Dream Alive, Khalila Devlin-Dew writes “according to Americans, the notion of success is taken as people living a better, richer, and happier life.” Willy struggled with his American Dream because he could never grasp the concept of how to live a better, richer, and happier life. This unachievableAmerican Dream has been depicted not only from Willy Loman but also Jay Gatsby. The Great Gatsby and Death of a Salesman depict Jay Gatsby and Willy Loman’s struggle to achieve the American Dream. They showed the American Dream is a universal struggle. Everyone at one point struggled with something involved in the American Dream whether it was love, money, or materialism. The American Dream is a dream to be higher within success with the ultimate goal of happiness. However, no one achieves this, as it is an endless goal as shown through the failure of Gatsby and Willy.