Getting Into His Head: What Makes Gatsby Tick?

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It is every writer's aspiration to write a literary work as deep and profound as F. Scott Fitzgerald has in his masterpiece The Great Gatsby. The novel alludes to an innumerable variety of themes; encompassing all of the symbolism, metaphorical traits, and masterful writing that an English teacher's favorite should have. In a novel of this caliber it is expected that there are many deep and well-developed characters. This book has them in spades. From all of the wide variety of characters portrayed in this novel, Jay Gatsby is clearly the most vital and interesting; the course of events in The Great Gatsby are clearly centered around him. Gatsby's behavior in the story can be summed up concisely in the word delusional. While his intentions are sincere, he is totally blind to the reality of the situation. "Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her; If you can bounce high, bounce for her too, Till she cry "Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover, I must have you!"(Thomas Parke D'Invilliers) Gatsby's actions throughout the novel follow this quote accurately. His entire universe and mindset are fixed around one person; he would do anything if only it would make her reciprocate his feelings. He wore the gold hat, he bounced up high liked a crazed lunatic; all in hopes that she would cry out her love for him. This is what makes Gatsby so interesting. At first glance, the impression given is that he is a very keen man and knows exactly what to concentrate his attention on – after all, he's incredibly rich, successful and well composed. However, with a closer look into his deeply troubled mind, Gatsby's shortcomings become apparent. It is said that initial impressions are the most important stage when meeting someone – during which you will form your first opinions of the individual in question. Resident raconteur Nick Carraway is greeted with a slightly startling first comment from Gatsby: "‘Your face is familiar,' he said, politely. ‘Weren't you in the Third Division during the war?'" (Fitzgerald 51) Gatsby, instead of interrogating the poor man, actually makes the effort to establish familiarity by finding a common ground with Nick. Also, he brings up the past, something he talks about frequently; in fact, he lives in the past, always dwelling on what should have been. Although his history is not fully explained, it does not need to be, for what is required to supplement the reader's thought processes is told in full. In his younger years, Gatsby becomes familiar with women and, at first, his sentiments toward them are unenthusiastic at best. He finds them shallow and weak-minded, existing only to taunt men. "He knew women early, and since they spoiled him he became contemptuous of them, of young virgins because they were ignorant, of the others because they were hysterical about things which in his overwhelming self-absorption he took for granted."(Fitzgerald 104) When he meets Daisy Fay, though, he is mesmerized by her beauty and soft voice. Something of her took hold in him that day, and after speaking to her for a matter of hours, he falls in love with her. From that moment forth he devotes most of his consciousness toward her, and after his service in the war he sets about to recapture her. Gatsby believes he finds in Daisy what in other women he did not – a convincing veil of innocence and true emotion. He idealizes Daisy and thinks she is capable of giving him what no other woman can. After returning from the war and a short stay at Oxford, Gatsby realizes that he is not fit for Daisy socially and monetarily. It is then that he begins formulating his new identity, first by changing his name, from James Gatz. With some luck, he takes management of a few small drug stores, and becomes involved in bootlegging as a means of making money. Gatsby leaves the reader with the impression that he doesn't think greatly of himself and that his existence is not all that important when compared to Daisy's....
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