Jay Gatsby: the Master of Illusion

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The title character of The Great Gatsby is a young man who arose from an indigent neighborhood in rural North Dakota to become immensely wealthy. Fitzgerald initially presents Gatsby as the casual, ambiguous host of the extravagant parties thrown continuously at his mansion. He appears surrounded by luxury, admired by powerful men and pursued by beautiful women. He is the subject of gossip throughout New York and is already set on a high pedestal before he is ever introduced to the reader. From his early youth, Gatsby despised poverty and longed for wealth and sophistication. Fitzgerald propels through the novel obscuring Gatsby’s background and source of wealth in mystery. As a result, the reader’s first, distant impressions of Gatsby strike quite a different note from that of the infatuated, yearning man who emerges late in the novel. Fitzgerald uses this technique of delayed character revelation to represent Gatsby’s theatrical approach to life which is an important part of his personality. As his persistent attempt for Daisy shows, Gatsby has an extraordinary ability to make the impossible possible; at the beginning of the novel, he appeared to the reader as he desired to appear to the world, and his true colors aren’t exposed until much later in the novel. Gatsby has literally created his own character, even changing his name “James Gatz – that was really, or at least legally, his name…witnessed the beginning of his career,” to represent the reinvention of himself (Fitzgerald 104). Certainly the title “The Great Gatsby” sets Gatsby up as a man of exceptional power, as it follows the sort of name given to famous magicians such as “The Great Houdini” or “The Great Blackstone” – but unfortunately, much like Gatsby’s expectations of Daisy aren’t fulfilled, neither are the reader’s of Gatsby himself. Though Gatsby has always wanted to be rich, his main predisposition in doing it was Daisy Buchanan. He met Daisy in 1917 as a young military officer before leaving...
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