Jay Gatsby as Tragic Hero of Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby Essay

Jay Gatsby as Tragic Hero of Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby Essay

Length: 970 words (2.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Jay Gatsby as Tragic Hero of Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby


According to Aristotle, there are a number of characteristics that identify a tragic hero: he must cause his own downfall; his fate is not deserved, and his punishment exceeds the crime; he also must be of noble stature and have greatness. These are all characteristics of Jay Gatsby, the main character of Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby.  Jay Gatsby is a tragic hero according to Aristotle's definition.  

Jay Gatsby is an enormously rich man, and in the flashy years of the jazz age, wealth defined importance. Gatsby has endless wealth, power and influence but never uses material objects selfishly. Everything he owns exists only to attain his vision. Nick feels "inclined to reserve all judgements" (1), but despite his disapproval of Gatsby's vulgarity, Nick respects him for the strength and unselfishness of his idealism. Gatsby is a romantic dreamer who wishes to fulfill his ideal by gaining wealth in hopes of impressing and eventually winning the heart of the materialistic, superficial Daisy. She is, however, completely undeserving of his worship.   "Then it had been merely the stars to which he had aspired on that June night. He came alive to me, delivered suddenly from the womb of his purposeless splendor" (79). Nick realizes Gatsby's estate, parties, shirts and other seemingly "purposeless" possessions are not purposeless. Everything Gatsby does, every move he makes and every decision he conceives is for a reason. He wants to achieve his ideal, Daisy. Gatsby's "purposeless splendor" is all for the woman he loves and wishes to represent his ideal. Furthermore, Gatsby believes he can win his woman with riches, and that his woman can achieve the ideal she sta...


... middle of paper ...


...w World" (182). Gatsby's vision corresponds to that of the explorers who discover the promise of the New World.

      Gatsby is a man of extreme capabilities but he fails to see the inevitability of his vision's failure, and in his inability to see this, he keeps trying to attain it. He does everything in his power to accomplish this vision, until his death. Daisy indirectly causes Gatsby's death, making her more than ever, unworthy of Gatsby's affections. Ironically, Gatsby lived for Daisy and up to his death, believed and had faith in her and his vision.

Works Cited

Dillon, Andrew. "The Great Gatsby: The Vitality of Illusion." The Arizona Quarterly 44 Spr. 1988: 49-61.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992.
Irwin, John T. "Compensating Visions: The Great Gatsby." Southwest Review 77 Autumn 1992: 536-545.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Jay Gatsby: The Tragic Hero in The Great Gatsby Essay

- According to Aristotle, a tragic hero character can be defined to be of noble status, but not necessarily virtuous. There is some aspect of his personality that he has in great abundance but it is this that becomes his tragic flaw and leads to his ultimate demise. However, his tragic ending should not simply sadden the reader, but teach him or her a life lesson. In The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jay Gatsby is the tragic hero who portrays the corruption of the American dream through his tragic flaw....   [tags: F. Scott Fitzgerald]

Strong Essays
1330 words (3.8 pages)

Essay on The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald

- ... Another yellow symbol is Doctor T.J. Eckleburg’s glasses. These glasses represent god because a pair of eyes look over all of the people that pass by it. The glasses symbolize “great worship of money and where the materialism is so fashionable that even God cannot avoid its influence” (Zhang 42). The color yellow symbolizes the evil Daisy Buchanan, Gatsby’s hope to impress people with his money, and God’s hopeless effort to stop materialism. The color green represents Gatsby’s hope for true love and his desire for wealth....   [tags: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby]

Strong Essays
1216 words (3.5 pages)

F. Scott Fitzgerald 's The Great Gatsby Essay

- ... Gatsby believes that Daisy will simply fall back into his hands now that he has acquired everything he could not offer to her before. But, Daisy has already established a life and had a daughter with Tom. He fails to realize that Daisy will not simply drop everything to recapture feelings that could be defined as puppy love. Gatsby also fails to realize Daisy’s major character flaw. She came across as a loving and charming young lady, but in reality she just “smashed up things and creatures and retreated” (Fitzgerald 188)....   [tags: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby]

Strong Essays
1744 words (5 pages)

Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and the Tragic Hero Essay

- Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and the Tragic Hero       Aristotle invented a list of criteria in an attempt to determine the exact definition of a tragic hero.  The list states the following - the tragic hero must cause his own down fall; the tragic hero's fate is undeserved; the tragic hero's punishment exceeds his crime; the tragic hero must be a great and noble person according to the standards of the current society.  In Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby can be defined as a tragic hero who possesses all of the aforementioned traits.   Jay Gatsby's main desire in life is to become a member of high society, respected more than anyone else.  Gatsby has taken steps to ensure th...   [tags: Great Gatsby Essays Fitzgerald Hero Papers]

Strong Essays
986 words (2.8 pages)

Okonkwo and Jay Gatsby Essay

- ... Okonkwo was a very prosperous yam farmer that was mainly driven by his fierce, determined attitude. One that helped him become one of the fiercest warriors and wrestlers in the whole village unlike his father, who is considered to be a “coward and could not bear the sight of blood”.(6) Jay Gatsby’s own rags-to-riches story is very comparable to Okonkwo’s. Gatsby grew up on a farm in North Dakota. He came from a very poor, modest family, similar to that of Okonkwo’s, but from birth he always felt he was destined to do something great....   [tags: Things Fall Apart, The Great Gatsby]

Strong Essays
938 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on Jay Gatsby's Dream

- Jay Gatsby's Dream      F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is a tragic tale of love distorted by obsession. Finding himself in the city of New York, Jay Gatsby is a loyal and devoted man who is willing to cross oceans and build mansions for his one true love. His belief in realistic ideals and his perseverance greatly influence all the decisions he makes and ultimately direct the course of his life. Gatsby has made a total commitment to a dream, and he does not realize that his dream is hollow....   [tags: Fitzgerald Great Gatsby Essays]

Strong Essays
1072 words (3.1 pages)

The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald Essay

- An artist’s creation is often a reflection of their lives, true emotions or desires; therefore, a writer may indirectly or directly portray their experiences and moments through their meaningful writing. The Great Gatsby, a novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1925, consisted of an underlying theme that a dream can become so easily self-destructive once a person strives for a goal that is unattainable. Through the eyes of Nick Carraway, the narrator, a story unfolds about specific people living in the populous regions of New York during the 1920s....   [tags: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby]

Strong Essays
1122 words (3.2 pages)

The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald Essay

- ... Aristotle’s first characteristic of a tragic hero requires one to be of high standing, power, or recognition. While Gatsby may be recognized because of his over-the-top parties, the text does not give the audience evidence to support the claim of Gatsby being a “high standing” man. Though Fitzgerald does make it clear that he came from new money, according to Aristotle, Gatsby would have already failed in the quest of fulfilling his wrongly attributed characteristic of being a tragic hero. Gatsby, who is trying to re-create the past in order to win Daisy’s love back, sends a personalized invitation over to Nick, who coincidently lives next door....   [tags: The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jay Gatsby]

Strong Essays
1410 words (4 pages)

Essay The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald

- ... He also went off to the military and became successful after investing in laundromats. F. Scott Fitzgerald also uses his ivy league background in his novel The Great Gatsby as well. Fitzgerald didn’t pass the entrance exam in Princeton University, but he was a good talker, and that made it possible for him to become a student. In The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby was a “Yale man”. Although he didn’t personally graduate from Princeton University, he was able to incorporate the ivy league names to show status in his novels....   [tags: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby]

Strong Essays
1119 words (3.2 pages)

Essay on Jay Gatsby

- The novel, The Great Gatsby focuses on one of the focal characters, James Gatz, also known as Jay Gatsby. He grew up in North Dakota to a family of poor farm people and as he matured, eventually worked for a wealthy man named Dan Cody. As Gatsby is taken under Cody’s wing, he gains more than even he bargained for. He comes across a large sum of money, however ends up getting tricked out of ‘inheriting’ it. After these obstacles, he finds a new way to earn his money, even though it means bending the law to obtain it....   [tags: Great Gatsby, Character Analysis]

Strong Essays
774 words (2.2 pages)