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What Makes Gatsby Tick? Essays

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It is every writer’s aspiration to write a literary work as deep and profound as F. Scott Fitzgerald has in his masterpiece The Great Gatsby. The novel alludes to an innumerable variety of themes; encompassing all of the symbolism, metaphorical traits, and masterful writing that an English teacher’s favorite should have. In a novel of this caliber it is expected that there are many deep and well-developed characters. This book has them in spades. From all of the wide variety of characters portrayed in this novel, Jay Gatsby is clearly the most vital and interesting; the course of events in The Great Gatsby are clearly centered around him.
Gatsby’s behavior in the story can be summed up concisely in the word delusional. While his intentions are sincere, he is totally blind to the reality of the situation. “Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her; If you can bounce high, bounce for her too, Till she cry "Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover, I must have you!"(Thomas Parke D’Invilliers) Gatsby’s actions throughout the novel follow this quote accurately. His entire universe and mindset are fixed around one person; he would do anything if only it would make her reciprocate his feelings. He wore the gold hat, he bounced up high liked a crazed lunatic; all in hopes that she would cry out her love for him. This is what makes Gatsby so interesting. At first glance, the impression given is that he is a very keen man and knows exactly what to concentrate his attention on – after all, he’s incredibly rich, successful and well composed. However, with a closer look into his deeply troubled mind, Gatsby’s shortcomings become apparent.
It is said that initial impressions are the most important stage when meeting someone – during which you will form your first opinions of the individual in question. Resident raconteur Nick Carraway is greeted with a slightly startling first comment from Gatsby: “‘Your face is familiar,’ he said, politely. ‘Weren't you in the Third Division during the war?’" (Fitzgerald 51) Gatsby, instead of interrogating the poor man, actually makes the effort to establish familiarity by finding a common ground with Nick. Also, he brings up the past, something he talks about frequently; in fact, he lives in the past, always dwelling on what should have been. Although his history is not fully explained, it does not need to be, for wh...


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...ore him. Through his rose-tinted glasses he fails to see that it’s just not possible. To strive for such things may very well be healthy, but to weigh the very meaning of your life so heavily on one person is certainly not. Gatsby’s incredibly narrow vision is further evidenced when, although putting forth his best efforts, Nick is unable to persuade anyone to come to his funeral. The realist and symbolic moderator, Owl-Eyes, is there, serving as an all-knowing being, almost seeming to say, “I told you so.” Coffin closed, Gatsby is submitted to his final judgment in the rain.
Encompassing the idea that the past can’t be relived, Gatsby is the pivotal character in The Great Gatsby, and serves as a lesson to us all. Even with all of his shortcomings, the reader feels a sense of tragedy and loss at his death, but no degree of sympathy can contest the truth. While it is important to remember, some things need to be respectfully forgotten so that, unlike Gatsby, we may continue to make progress in our lives. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” Although we may wish we could relive the past, what has been, has been – and never shall be again.


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