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The American Dream: Jay Gatsby’s Illegal Wealth

The American Dream is a happy way of living believed in the United States that anyone has a chance for success and can also rise to a higher social or economic position by working hard. A more significant number longs for it to pursue its idea of happiness. There is a need to sacrifice time; facing struggles and endurance are essential. Facing challenges that come along your way strategically is the only way to success. To meet “The Way to Wealth”, opportunities must carefully be utilized for growth and expansion (Franklin, 1793). Focus, sacrifice and effort are needed to get a reward or gain, and no effort inevitably goes unrewarded. As is evident in The Great Gatsby film, Franklin’s assertion that the American Dream is available to all people is incorrect because Gatsby had gained his property and wealth through illegitimate ways. “Self-centered people have only one topic to talk about; themselves,” (Franklin, 1835). Self-centeredness and being obsessed by your delight will eventually ruin a person’s way of living.

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Jay Gatsby with the Illegal Wealth

The main character in The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby, had come from a poor farming background to prosperity. Jay Gatsby was the gift of hope for the poor that they could rise from the poor societal status (Fitzgerald, 1991). Gatsby had an enormous house where he used to host stylish parties regularly attracting high-class individuals. Gatsby gets his beyond-belief riches after the war through unlawful ways (Fitzgerald, 1991). Jay Gatsby was also involved in illegal dealings like selling drugs where he had opened a drug store (Fitzgerald, 1991). Gatsby’s life was full of joy and satisfaction since he could afford all that he could need.

As the novel progresses, Gatsby became self-centered, desiring to fulfill his interests. Gatsby’s ex-girlfriend, Daisy, got married to another when he had left for war (Fitzgerald, 1991). He made arrangements with Nick, Daisy’s cousin, on how to invite her to meet so that they would reconcile (Fitzgerald, 1991). Daisy was amazed to link up with Gatsby after almost five years. The two reconciled and somehow fell back in love. Caring about other people’s feelings is essential and can help one make peace and mutual friendships. In (Fitzgerald 1991), Gatsby tells Daisy, “Ain’t we got fun… The rich get richer, and the poor get children.” It makes it evident that Gatsby has the pride of life.

The Dangers of Being Self-Involved

Gatsby advised Daisy to tell her husband that she had never loved him. At a party, Tom assaulted Gatsby of his relationship with Daisy resulting in a fight (Fitzgerald, 1991). Tom had known that Gatsby had acquired his wealth by bootlegging and disclosed it. Later after the chaos, Daisy and Gatsby hit Wilson’s wife as they were driving (Fitzgerald, 1991). Gatsby took the blame to protect Daisy, who caused the accident. Wilson gets informed that his wife is dead after being hit by Gatsby’s car, and he shot Gatsby (Fitzgerald, 1991). The wealthy man consumes himself pleasures and illicit way of living. Wrongful gains will escape like a vapor, but legal gains last forever.

Contrarily, Franklin came from a middle-class family and rose to be a nobleman. He only began as an artisan, having received formal education for only two years (Franklin, 1835). Benjamin Franklin was a confident man speaking for American social mobility through good management and diligence (Franklin, 1835). Franklin made an effort to build on himself, nurturing personal ethics. He took part in public projects for the interest of the general public. Benjamin Franklin gently became extra aspiring, like building hospitals, providing welfare for the widow, institutions for the mentally disabled, a library, and schools to teach the middle class (Franklin, 1835). He portrayed leadership skills and the passion he had for people.

Benjamin Franklin is well known as one of the founding fathers who signed the documents to be set free from Britain (Franklin, 1835). He was also a science expert; he demonstrated by flying a kite that lightning was electricity. Franklin was hardworking and industrious as an entrepreneur, sacrificing his time for work (Franklin, 1835). He also took part in journalism and helped his brother advocate for journalistic freedom in America. When Franklin became a politician, he was the topmost to suggest for the union of the colonies for regular security (Franklin, 1835). Franklin fought slavery and understanding African-Americans were equal to his own (Franklin, 1835). He could interact and talk to Benjamin Franklin brilliance is a good image of a wealthy man who was hard working. Franklin (1835) says, “…if I would take the pains to learn it,” clarifying that one has to sacrifice and endure the pain for a lesson.

The Way to Wealth

The Way to Wealth is based on work ethics and being careful and cautious in all doings. Benjamin Franklin was dynamic and could work hard till late in the night. He took care of his look and his stature through self-discipline. Franklin (1793) says that hard work is a routine for success and prosperity. Failure to find out a way of economizing money, a person can toil for their whole life and never find wealth (Franklin, 1793). In the Way to Wealth, Franklin (1793) indicates that “no pain no gain.” For financial success, money must be economized and put into savings.

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Diligence and an attitude of persistent hard work are all about being determined and devoted to work. Giving up should never be an option since it undermines your potentials. A wise person endures the struggles and pains at work for growth (Franklin, 1793). A positive attitude towards the minor issues will continuously develop peace with your mind offering you a peaceful environment for learning and development (Franklin, 1793). Steadiness, a spirited strive, and careful handling of tasks or jobs as a one-time opportunity is an advantage that directs people to success.

Gatsby had acquired his wealth and property after the war in unlawful ways. He lives a worldly life with the parties most of the time. Gatsby takes his ex-girlfriend Daisy from her husband, Tom, and falls back in love (Fitzgerald, 1991). As a result of that, conflict arose between Gatsby and Tom, and they fought. Tom reveals that Gatsby owned his properties illegally and opened a drug store (Fitzgerald, 1991). Nick, Daisy’s cousin, was shocked to hear that, for he had desired to be like Gatsby, not knowing he had possessed the property through bootlegging (Fitzgerald, 1991). Nick was so embarrassed with the fictional West Egg village, which he had thought was a good place and even desired to go back to the East (Fitzgerald, 1991). Daisy caused an accident that killed Wilson’s wife, and Gatsby chose to take her guilt, and he was shot dead (Fitzgerald, 1991). He lost Daisy, left property he had acquired illegally, and lost his own life. In (Franklin 1793), he says that “keep an account of every day’s wages, every idle day, and every expenditure,” portraying financial discipline.


The view of the American Dream seems to appear as the same thing to everybody. Most people cannot sacrifice and devote their time to work and never meet their financial dreams. Only a few people are working hard to attain their objectives and eventually meet financial and personal success. Contrarily, characters like Gatsby would instead take a shortcut and enjoy life with no struggles, but consequences followed. Life always will honor discipline, hard work, and diligence, for no effort goes unrewarded.


Fitzgerald, F. (1991). The Great Gatsby (1925).

Franklin, B. (1793). The way to wealth.

Franklin, B. (1835). The Works of Benjamin Franklin. Campe.

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