Examining Hamlet and The Great Gatsby
According to Roger Lewis, “The acquisition of money and love are both part of the same dream, the will to return to the quintessential unity that exists only at birth and at death” (41). In both William Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, the protagonists are willing to sacrifice all that they have in order to achieve their unrealistic objectives and ambitions, resulting in their tragic demises. While there are many themes and concepts relevant to both Hamlet and The Great Gatsby, their parallels regarding their aspirations stand out for further evaluation. The concept of sacrificing all that a person has, not limiting to their own life, is ever present in these works. Both Hamlet and Gatsby make evident that they are willing and are capable of sacrificing all that is themselves to possibly reach their ultimate goal.
Throughout William Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark is set on his goal of achieving vengeance and justice for his father’s murder, without the realization that his obstinate aspirations eventually lead to his own downfall. Unlike many other characters, Hamlet is very analytical; he makes very calculated and thoughtful moves before he acts, ultimately leading him to his death. "Hamlet represents the type of man whose power of direct action is paralyzed by an excessive development of his intellect" (Freud, Sigmund). This is furthermore supported when Hamlet is given a golden opportunity to attain vengeance for his father, but does not kill Claudius, the king of Denmark, for Hamlet mistakenly assumes that Claudius is praying. Hamlet: Now might I do it pat. Now he is a-praying. And now I’ll do’t. And so he goes to heaven. And so am I revenged, That would be scanned. A villain kills my father, and, for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send, To heaven. Oh, this is hire and salary, not revenge. (Hamlet, III, iii, 74-80)
Hamlet misses an opportune chance to complete his mission, one to which he would have no opposition, but loses his chance due to his over-excessive thought process. On the other hand, Jay Gatsby is a person who appears to be motivated by only his urges and emotions; no other forces drive him more than his ultimate love lust. “Gatsby does not appear as a man of ordinary disposition acting under the direction of ordinary, explicable impulses. He appears instead as one under the spell of some enchantment” (Langman, F.H.). In other words, Gatsby himself was driven by a mighty inner need to reattain his once lost love. Through this, we see that Gatsby was not controlled by anything but his heart; his heart controlled his actions and thought process, and had completely consumed his entire life since his breakup with Daisy. Gatsby was willing to adjust himself to what Daisy seemed to desire at that moment. He hadn’t once ceased looking at Daisy, and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes. Sometimes, too, he stared around at his possessions in a dazed way, as though in her actual and astounding presence none of it was any longer real. Once he nearly toppled down a flight of stairs. (Fitzgerald, F. Scott, 112)
In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby has made it his life mission to donate all of his possible energy and resources to attempt to acquire his love once lost. According to Carla Verderame, “The novel concerns itself with the struggles of reinventing oneself to attain the dreams and pleasures of one's youth. In Gatsby's case, the effort goes terribly awry.” Gatsby, throughout the novel, strives to retrieve his long lost love; he is willing to conform himself to whatever means he must conform to in order to achieve his end desired goal. "The poor boy who becomes a millionaire by extra-legal activities endeavors to recapture Daisy Buchanan by means of his newly acquired wealth....
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