Great Gatsby & Death of a Salesman: Comparison

Though Great Gatsby and Death of a Salesman are two very different stories, they share some similarities in terms of their characters and themes. For instance, both Jay Gatsby and Willy Loman are men who are trying to achieve the American Dream, though they go about it in very different ways. Gatsby is a self-made man who achieved wealth through illegal means, while Willy Loman is a salesman who has always struggled to make ends meet.

Both men are also obsessed with a woman who they can never have. Gatsby is in love with Daisy Buchanan, a woman who is already married and completely out of his league. Willy Loman is in love with his young neighbor, Linda, though he is too shy to ever act on his feelings.

There are also some similarities in the way that Jay Gatsby and Willy Loman meet their end. Both men die alone, without anyone really understanding them. Gatsby is killed by George Wilson, who mistakens him for the man who was having an affair with his wife. Willy Loman committed suicide, unable to bear the thought of living a life of mediocrity any longer.

The American Dream has two versions. The historical dream is the promise of a nation where people are free and have equal opportunity. Since 1900, the American Dream has evolved to mean a desire for financial success. (1) It is expected that happiness of all kinds will follow from material prosperity. America is regarded as a land where everyone can achieve their goals. Both Fitzgerald and Miller view the American Dream as a disappointment in the end.

In Great Gatsby, Gatsby’s entire life is devoted to the attainment of Daisy Buchanan, who personifies his idea of the American Dream. However in Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman’s obsession with being well-liked and successful destroys his relationships with his family and renders him unable to see the reality of his situation.

The novel Great Gatsby is set in 1922, during the era known as ‘The Jazz Age’. It was a time when America was booming economically, but there was also a huge gap between the rich and the poor. This is reflected in Fitzgerald’s novel through the character of Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is incredibly wealthy, but he is not accepted into high society because he is ‘new money’. He lives in a huge mansion and throws lavish parties, but he is always alone. The only person who really knows him is his friend Nick Carraway, who narrates the story.

The play Death of a Salesman is set in the 1950s, during the era known as ‘The American Dream’. This was a time when America was booming economically, but there was also a huge gap between the rich and the poor. This is reflected in Miller’s play through the character of Willy Loman. Loman is a salesman who is struggling to make ends meet. He is obsessed with being successful and well-liked, but he is slowly losing touch with reality. His wife Linda tries to support him, but even she can see that he is not the man he used to be.

Both Great Gatsby and Death of a Salesman explore the idea of the American Dream, but they do so in different ways. In Great Gatsby, the dream is something that Gatsby pursues and ultimately fails to achieve. In Death of a Salesman, the dream is something that Loman clings to as his life falls apart. Great Gatsby is a tragedy, while Death of a Salesman is a drama.

The two texts also have different structures. Great Gatsby is told from Nick Carraway’s point of view, in the form of a third-person narrative. Death of a Salesman is told from Willy Loman’s point of view, in the form of a first-person monologue.

Willy Loman, a confused dream, is used by Arthur Miller to illustrate how an individual’s social standing and connection with money are inextricably linked. Willy is unable to separate the problems of wealth and being well liked; popularity will ensure that you’ll never want here, Miller is demonstrating the myth that in order to be professionally and financially successful, it is necessary to be popular.

Willy becomes absorbed in a time when commerce and emotion were closely connected. In this way, Miller depicts the American Dream as a notion that cannot adapt with changing times.

On the other hand, Fitzgeralds Great Gatsby also deals with the issue of Americans struggling to fit into a rapidly changing society. Fitzgerald uses Nick Carraway as the narrator to provide an outsiders perspective of Gatsbys parties. Through Nicks interactions and observations, it is clear that despite appearances, Gatsbys parties are not about fun or socialising, but are instead a sad display of people who are desperately trying to hold on to something that they will never have.

In this way, Fitzgerald presents the American Dream as an unattainable goal that only leads to pain and suffering. Thus, through their exploration of the American Dream, both Miller and Fitzgerald present it as a concept that has been corrupted by greed and obsession.

In both books, the Dream is depicted as an all-consuming force. I believe that Fitzgerald’s thoughts on how 1920s culture treated its dreamers are represented by the pulpless halves of the oranges and lemons he discarded after Gatsby parties. When the party was over, Gatsby was used in life but forgotten in death. He views the party guests, to whom he gives everything without thinking about who gave it to him, as pulpless halves who consume whatever they have been given.

He has given them his all and in return they have given him nothing. When he is fired, his dream dies with him. I think Fitzgerald and Miller both believe that the American Dream can ruin lives.

Both texts also contain characters that are not content with their lives. In Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby is not content with his life of poverty and strives to better himself so that he can win the love of Daisy Buchanan. Willy Loman from Death of a Salesman is also not content with his life and he dreams of becoming a successful salesman like his friend Dave Singleman. However, neither character is able to achieve their dream and they both end up dying in pursuit of it.

I think Fitzgerald and Miller are both commenting on the American Dream and how it can lead to people’s downfall. They are both saying that the dream is not always attainable and that sometimes it can be destructive.

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