Gatsby's Pursuit of the American Dream The Great Gatsby, a novel by Scott Fitzgerald, is about the American Dream, and the downfall of those who attempt to reach its illusionary goals. The attempt to capture the American Dream is central to many novels. This dream is different for different people; but, in The Great Gatsby, for Jay, the dream is that through wealth and power, one can acquire happiness. To get this happiness James must reach into the past and relive an old dream; and, in order to do this, he must have wealth and power. The American Dream had always been based on the idea that each person no matter who he or she is can become successful in life by his or her hard work. The dream also embodied the idea of a self-sufficient man, an entrepreneur making it successful for himself. The Great Gatsby is about what happened to the American Dream in the 1920s, a time period when the dream had been corrupted by the avaricious pursuit of wealth. The pur...