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Is Gatsby Really 'great'? Essay

1085 words - 4 pages

The "Great Gatsby" is essentially about the rise and fall of the American Dream, and what meaning that held for Gatsby. It is also about how the American Dream is seen by Gatsby, not to obtain something materialistic, money, but to reach a goal not in keeping at all with what the American Dream stands for. For him the American Dream is a vehicle toward his goal.The greatness of "Gatsby" can be explored through a variety of viewpoints. One can compare his successes and failures and then weigh them up, or look at how he should be remembered and discuss whether that is as a "Great" person.What made Gatsby "Great"? The failures of Gatsby seem to be totally outweighed by his successes in all aspects of the words, but it is not the case. For example, his parties, which appear to encompass his whole life, are rarely attended by himself, the host; he even says it himself at his first meeting with Nick, "I'm afraid I'm not a very good host." How can a man who fails to attend and host his own parties really be "Great"?Gatsby had a name, his name to the people was "the guy behind the parties", and he had no foundation of friendship with anyone at any of his parties; that's why when he dies few people turn up to his funeral. This indicates that the opinion of Gatsby changes throughout the text. Possibly from good to bad, he is destroyed by his love for Daisy.The secret to Gatsby's apparent "greatness" is not in his success, but in his overcoming of the American Dream. Gatsby is an American but as I have already stated what the American Dream means to him is something totally different. The wealth that the American Dream holds is Gatsby's vehicle to get to Daisy, she is the real goal, the goal he dedicates his life too. In the text we can see how James Gatz fails to win Daisy due to his financial situation. Gatsby therefore appears to be not "Great", but foolish to believe in the past and what it used to hold for him,"I wouldn't ask to much of her", I ventured, "you can't repeat the past""Can't repeat the past", he cried incredulously, "Of course you can".The whole text in a sense is about Gatsby's failed pursuit of the past.Gatsby can be seen in a sense as a Christ figure, and therefore in an opinion a success. He takes the sins of others upon himself (Daisy's), he spent most of his early life on the shores of a lake, and in the end will die for others sins. We can't know if this is a coincidence or if Fitzgerald intended it so, but it does indicate the depth and mystery that Fitzgerald surrounds Gatsby with. Although having this mystery surrounding him creates an illusive figure rather than a great one.When delving further into the depths of whether Gatsby is "Great" one may come across the fact that as the text progresses he is not succeeding more but digging an ever greater hole for himself. He could be seen to be "digging his own grave" or being "haunted by the past," his past.When fundamentally looking at what Gatsby really...

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