Jay Gatsby: An Archetypal Analysis Of The Contemporary Tragic Hero

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Jay Gatsby: An Archetypal Analysis of the Contemporary Tragic Hero F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is a jazz age novel demonstrating the corruption of humanity at the hands of material greed. Fitzgerald’s American classic is set on the opulent shores of Long Island Sound, where materialistic mansions pump out tainted souls like the not-so-distant factories spewing pollution into the city’s rivers. Whether new money or old money, Fitzgerald demonstrates that one is never free from the corruption that it brings. Jay Gatsby, a self-made man living on West Egg, lives his life in tireless pursuit of his dreams so that his material fulfillment will expunge years of poverty that his parents brought upon him. Gatsby lives the younger years…show more content…
In the moments before Gatsby’s death, Nick describes Gatsby’s new vision of the world as a result of his understanding. As Gatsby walks about his garden, he looks upon the beautiful things that fill his life, but in a new way. Nick describes how “he must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is” (Fitzgerald 169). Gatsby does not see beauty in things that are visually beautiful; they now represent how some things can be superficially beautiful but are ultimately flawed. This is similar to the way he feels about Daisy. He finally comes to the understanding that his attraction to Daisy seemed to be superficially about their love, but is actually more centered on fulfilling his material needs. He comes to realize that he had never seen the beautiful young Daisy he knew before the war. She instead represented some “colossal significance”; she was a symbol representing what could be the pinnacle of his socioeconomic achievement. Through Nick’s reliable lens he sees how Gatsby has been trapped in “a new world, material without being real, where poor ghost, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about…” (Fitzgerald 169). His realization is ultimately that he had become a victim of his own dreams. Gatsby spent his life a “poor ghost”…show more content…
Fitzgerald makes a bold statement to a dreaming crowd. He argues through Gatsby’s example that as dreams become as “colossal” as imaginably possible, they will become increasingly more disconnected from their realities. Gatsby lives a life “lost to the old warm world, pa[ying] a high price for living too long with a single dream” (Fitzgerald 169). Fitzgerald argues that while dreams can serve as guidance towards an ultimate goal, they can also lead to a pitiful downfall. Gatsby lives with a dream that guides him towards recapturing his love for Daisy. However, the money that Gatsby needs to recapture Daisy blinds his love for her. He loses sight of the ultimate goal of his dreams, just as Fitzgerald must have seen in the hopeful eyes of ambitious young Americans. Poor, underprivileged people were developing dreams for better lives for themselves. But, in order to have better lives, they became too fixated on the means of getting there. Their dreams became blinded by money and became misguided from the ultimate goal of bettering oneself. Thus, through Gatsby’s tragic nature, Fitzgerald argues that the American Dream becomes ultimately unobtainable by the material means required in pursuit of the ultimate goal of a successful and prosperous
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