"The Great Gatsby": Character Analysis Of Jay Gatsby

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For some, greatness is the riches and fame one can obtain throughout a lifetime, what's not realized is that there is a deeper, more profound meaning to it. Greatness is having the courage and ability to step out of one’s comfort zone to find the best course of action for one's self and others. In “The Great Gatsby”, written by F.Scott Fitzgerald, Jay Gatsby is portrayed as someone who was able to fulfill what was called the American dream, and for that, he is considered great. He was able to transform himself from a poor little boy into a rich successful businessman. Even though he was able to obtain all of the materialistic things he wanted, he still wasn't able to get the one thing he wanted the most, Daisy Buchanan. Daisy is the woman Gatsby is in love with, she's also the drive Gatsby uses to get rich. He was determined to get the money for one girl's love, not to better himself or others, but to make one person happy. Greatness doesn’t focus solely on the physical things one can obtain through life, but on the mindset and the intentions, one has while bettering their life.

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From Gatsby's enormous house to the extravagant parties he held, there was nothing ordinary about him. “He was a son of God - a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that - and he must be about His Father's business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception, he was faithful to the end”. At the tender age of 17, Gatsby was given the chance to recreate himself. He knew “his parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people” and if he wanted to grow, he would have to do it all on his own. From the start, he was determined to make it to the top. He started as a poor man, a nobody, but his determination allowed him to fight against social differences and become the man he had always seen himself as. Aside from his money, there was also something captivating about Gatsby. In one of the first encounters between him and Nick, the narrator, he’s described to have “one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in a life”. Gatsby is a very charming man, or at least pulls off the act very well-- he’s one of a kind. He never stopped when there was something he wanted, he took great strides to get it as well.

One would be able to classify Gatsby as being completely great if it wasn’t for his motives. The love Gatsby had for Daisy was the only authentic and pure thing about him. He risks everything for her, even after Daisy was in full blame for the death of Myrtle, when he was asked “Was Daisy driving?”, he answered with “Yes,...but of course, I’ll say I was”. It was Tom and Daisy’s lie that led to Gatsby’s downfall, not his own. The success in Gatsby’s life is attributed to his need to impress Daisy. Because she wouldn’t marry him while he was poor, he became so rich he could throw parties every weekend for many guests, just off the chance that Daisy might attend one, and when she finally came and didn't like them, “the lights in his house failed to go on one Saturday night-- and, as obscure as it had begun, his career as Trimalchio was over”. He becomes so obsessed with the idea of having Daisy that he plans his whole life around her. He wanted Daisy so much that he did anything for her, including taking the blame for Myrtle’s devastating death. Gatsby spent the majority of his life chasing an unreasonable dream, and it became the reason for his death.

Gatsby is ‘great’ in a contradicting way. Gatsby is considered ‘great’ because of his strive to fulfill his dreams, become wealthy, and fulfill being labeled a man of high status. Not many in his time could start as low as he did and rise to the top. He was able to come up with a likable personality which helped him in his journey. At the same time, he portrayed himself as desperate and pathetic. The main reason he became so successful was for Daisy, not himself. He went through extraordinary measures for her, ready to risk it all, but in the end, he was just out of reach with the thing he wanted most, Daisy.  

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