The Great Gatsby Character Analysis

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Throughout F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work The Great Gatsby, Nick Caraway undergoes a large transformation. His character arc demonstrates the negative effects of being part of a rich and privileged society, and that even though the 1920’s era looks beautiful and fun, a great many of its inhabitants were empty. Nick Caraway starts the novel hopeful, but as he is exposed to the amoral culture of the rich socialites and businessmen, he becomes cynical, bitter, and he abandons his habits of honesty, and reserving judgment. After his time in the army during World War I, Nick Caraway refuses to return to the kind of boring life he thinks he would find back home. He consequently migrates East. As he moves near New York City, at the beginning of the novel, he says, “Life was beginning over again with the summer,” (4). This sentiment displays his general attitude toward his new life at West Egg. He considers it full of hope, and this positive feeling does not start to fade until his first interaction with Tom and Daisy Buchanan. After their dinner party he feels “confused and a little disgusted,” (20). He had just found out that Tom was having an affair, and that Daisy had a uniquely complacent attitude about it. He sensed a general falseness about the whole night that he found very unsettling. Soon after, Tom takes Nick to meet Myrtle, Tom’s his mistress. It is then Nick’s responsibility to keep the secret of Tom’s affair, making him complicit. Nick never even considers telling Daisy who Myrtle is, or trying to get Tom to stop his adultery. Later, Nick plays a very large role in starting an affair with Gatsby and Daisy. He allows them to use his house to meet, knowing that Gatsby loves Daisy, and she is a married woman. Nick doesn’t ju... ... middle of paper ... ...r and a participant in the action. Although here Nick is talking about looking out of Myrtle and Tom’s apartment, it can be applied to his role in the book overall, “I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled,” (35). He is fascinated with these rich people, but is also disgusted with them as general human beings. This ambivalence is something he struggles with, but by the end his disgust overpowers anything else he might feel toward the other main characters. As is characteristic of Modern writing, the character arc of Nick Caraway is a story of lost innocence. He starts the summer optimistic and has a strong conscience, but as he becomes involved in the lives of the privileged he finds himself embodying the exact opposite qualities that he initially said he had. Works Cited Fitzgerald, Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2004.
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