Since it's invention the "American Dream" has evolved and produced two very different forms, the original being a promise of a land of freedom, with opportunity and equality for all; where hard, honest work is rewarded with spiritual fulfilment and happiness. However since 1900, it has come to be based on financial success and it's achievement, (using whatever means necessary) with the expectation that happiness of every kind will follow. Ultimately both Fitzgerald and Miller see the American Dream as a failure.
The American Dream, it's interpretation and the ways of achieving it, are very important underlying themes in both Arthur Miller's "Death Of A Salesman" (1949) and F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" (1925).
F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" is set in the 1920's, in Eastern America in a period well known as the "Jazz Age", during prohibition in America. The twenties were also well known as the "roaring twenties", the economy was very good and allowed people to host and attend many extravagant parties. This era was not just renowned for it's wild parties, but also for the huge boom in organised crime; prohibition lead to massive underground production and sale of illegally distilled alcohol, making some people very rich.
James Gatz, or Jay Gatsby, as he reinvents himself to be, was one of the people to reap the massive financial rewards available in the illegal alcohol trade. He started out from a very poor mid-western background and worked hard to become nothing short of a millionaire. Thus, it may seem, personifying the "American Dream". However in his short life Gatsby was never truly happy. And the means he used to achieve his status were far from honest. Gatsby's determination to succeed came from his love for a girl, Daisy, a girl he was not worthy of because of his financial status. So he sets out to achieve this; his "dream". However it is apparent to any outsider that his dream, as Nick Carraway (the narrator) puts it, is "founded securely on a fairy's wing" describing how fairytale and fragile it is.