James Gatz was already "about his Father's business" when he carefully sketched out a schedule for self improvement on the back of his "Hopalong Cassidy" book. He had already realized what his dream was and had created his own personal religion, which was one of romantic ideals: wealth, youth, and beauty. Gatsby, "a son of God," strived to obtain the "vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty," and to incarnate these ideals with reality. Like Jesus Christ came here as an incarnation of man and the divine, "the perfect word entering the imperfect world-- and yet remaining perfect"
(Christensen, 154-155), Gatsby is referred to as "a son of God" because through his invention of Jay Gatsby, James Gatz tried to incarnate his ideal dream with reality. Daisy becomes the embodiment of that dream because she is the personification of his romantic ideals. For him she represents his youth and is the epitomy of beauty. Gatsby, "with the religious conviction peculiar to saints, pursues an ideal, a mystical union, not with God, but with the life embodied in Daisy Fay" (Allen, 104). He becomes disillusioned into thinking the ideal is actually obtainable, and the realization that he will never be able to obtain his dream is what destroys him in the end. Gatsby realizes that Daisy isn't all he thought she was, and with this his dream collapses. The symbolic implications of this can be realized when studying Fitzgerald's religious beliefs and other religious imagery in the novel. Through Gatsby's disillusionment, Fitzgerald makes a profound statement about humanity.
In order to understand the religious imagery in The Great Gatsby, one must first understand Fitzgerald's own ideas on religion. Fitzgerald was a troubled man much of his life, and was a victim of psychological and emotional turmoil. Fitzgerald's friend, John Peale Bishop once remarked he had "the rare faculty...
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...mate sin, the killing of Myrtle. Fitzgerald believed that humanity was hopeless, and Daisy's character is a symbol of that hopelessness. "Aren't we all a little like Daisy--foolish sinners who wander around avoiding reality, hurting and being hurt by those around us, letting others take the punishment for our transgressions?" (Clark, 3/10).
Allen, Joan M. Candles and Carnival Lights: The Catholic Sensibility of F. Scott Fitzgerald. New York University Press: New York, 1978.
Christensen, Bryce J. "The Mystery of Godliness." Major Literary Characters: Gatsby. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1991.
Clark, Larry. "*******your essay ideas*******." E-Mail message. 10 March 1996.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Charles Scribner's Sons: New York, 1925.
Gindin, James. "Gods and Fathers in F. Scott Fitzgerald's Novels." Modern Critical Views: F. Scott Fitzgerald. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1985.
McQuade, Donald, ed. The Harper American Literature. Harper & Row Publishers: New York, 1987, pp. 1308-1311. This paper is the property of NetEssays.Net Copyright © 1999-2002
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