An Announcement from the United States Mint

The United States Mint is pleased to announce our introduction of the commemorative Jay Gatsby one thousand dollar bill.  This currency is intended to celebrate the life and dreams of such a symbolic and influential American, however fictional he may have been.  The bill is to represent his dream, and is intended to inspire others in pursue their own dreams in this “land of opportunity.”


Explanation

          Overall, the green color of the bill is intended to represent the dream of Gatsby, symbolized by the green light.  His dream was to have Daisy, and his own idealistic thoughts of love and bliss that were attached to her.  However, despite his well meaning, the background color of the bill seems to also contain some hint of yellow, which is meant to represent the corruption that lies underneath such a dream that depends so much on money and appearance.

           The face in the center is obviously not the face of Jay Gatsby, but the face of F. Scott Fitzgerald himself.  Fitzgerald wrote the novel with himself in mind as being a mixture of both Nick and Gatsby, but it was Gatsby’s dream that correlates best with Fitzgerald’s own.  Fitzgerald wanted to buy his American dream, and he wanted a beautiful, unattainable wife to stand beside him as he pursued this dream of his to life a fulfilled and satisfying life.  They both wanted a new beginning to make up for their lackluster Midwestern past, and they looked to prestige and wealth to help them to achieve it.
            Also, note that Fitzgerald’s eyes have been colored in green.  This is intended to represent the common dream that Fitzgerald and Gatsby shared for wealth and prestige.  Fitzgerald also had a well-meaning intent in his eyes to only accomplish what he most deeply wanted, which was his own version of the American dream.
            The ID number on the bill, E 17761922 W, as well as the inscription in the upper left hand corner, “This note is legal tender to buy all dreams, east or west,” also symbolizes the American dream to Gatsby.  One of Gatsby’s tragic miscalculations was that he could use new money, obtained through questionable means, to be on the same level as those with old money.  Gatsby would agree with this particular printing of $1000 bills—why can’t brand-new currency have the same value, no matter how it was gained?  However, it is clear that he could not keep up with the people of East Egg, and he could not achieve his East-centered dream from his Western roots.  This is why the letters on either side of the serial number are “E” and “W.”  Also, it is important to note the dates expressed in the serial number, 1776 and 1922, as the dates that the American dream began with the start of our country, and the date that Gatsby’s dream ended.  Therefore, the purpose of the bill is emphasized by Gatsby’s interest in using the money to buy his dream, but realizing that even though you can buy many things with money, you cannot but a dream in the East.  Gatsby’s dream, which is represented by the thousand dollar bill, was to be able to buy Daisy from the East, but as you can see, this is counterfeit money, and Gatsby’s dream will never become a reality.
            You know how often times newly-minted money will have funny color watermarks in the background? That was our intention with the image of the American flag standing tall and proud over a simple body of water.  We wanted to represent the underlying American dream that Gatsby had in common with many others, and his belief that he was in a land of opportunity where anything was possible.  Therefore, we have an American flag over the water, which is symbolic of the body of water that separated Gatsby from his dream in East Egg, as well as the body of water in which Gatsby’s dream officially came to an end.  Therefore, it was water that kept Gatsby from achieving his dream, and so it is water that this American flag stands above and essentially “conquers,” representing Gatsby’s dream that his supposed “equal opportunity” in America would help him to overcome these obstacles.
            Finally, Meyer Wolfsheim’s signature is also in the corner of the bill, supposedly as the “Treasurer of the United States.”  This, like the yellow undertones of the bill, represents the corruption that occurred as Gatsby chased his dream, for the majority of his great fortune was made through shady business “gonnegtions” with Wolfsheim.  Not only is Wolfsheim’s title a blatant lie, but his supposed “commission” and approval of this currency is completely illegitimate, therefore representing Gatsby’s inability to buy the dream that he desires with counterfeit currency created by the dishonest Wolfsheim.Gatsby's dream was that he would have money capable of buying himself Daisy, his love from the past.  This particular currency would have worked, had it not been tainted by corruption of Wolfsheim and the general lies associated with the time period.  Therefore, his money is counterfeit, and cannot be used to buy dreams like Daisy, which will remain across the waters in the East.


Quick References

The Original American Dream: http://memory.loc.gov/learn/lessons/97/dream/thedream.html

Interpretation of Gatsby's American Dream: http://www.unc.edu/~jwladyb/Gatsby.pdf

By: Michele Rudolph

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