Authors often portray ideologies of the society of 1920's America in their novels. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, one ideology critiqued is the American Dream. The author leads the reader in modern society to adapt a dominant reading where the American Dream is portrayed as an illusion. The author uses values, attitudes and beliefs of the different social classes to illustrate The Dream and it's successes and failures during the novel. The conventions used to construct this idea of the American Dream include setting, conflict and symbolism. A reader in modern society may be presented to view the dream as well as society being corrupt in 1920s America.
The American Dream is portrayed as corrupt through the use of setting. The divides between East Egg 'old money', West Egg 'new money' and The Valley of the Ashes 'working class' are huge and contrast to the Dream's idea of equality. The upper class or 'old money' group consider themselves to be superior to the other groups in society. When Daisy attends Gatsby's party, she looks down upon the people and the place, simply because she believes being born into money makes her better. "She was appalled by West Egg, this unprecedented place." This shows how Daisy has a snobbish attitude, something which opposes the American Dream and what it stands for. The descriptive language used to describe the setting is also contrasting. East Egg's "white places. glittered" as opposed to The Valley of The Ashes which is "grotesque". The settings are symbolic of the great divide between rich and poor. The distinctions between the two locations show that rather than everyone equal as the Dream suggests, many people were living in luxury with no effort whatsoever while others had to work hard every day just to provide for the family. .
The dream's failure is established through the use of conflict. Conflict arises because Myrtle is cheating on her husband.