The Great Gatsby

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The main characters in both F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and William Shakespeare's Macbeth appear stable and successful on the outside, but inside they are engaged in a constant struggle with their dreams. Gatsby tries to win back the girl of his dreams by becoming something he's not, a member of high society; while Macbeth believes the prediction of the witches that he will be king and spends his life trying to make it come true. Both characters are willing to risk everything in pursuit of their respective dreams, including committing crimes. Both are motivated to take these risks by a woman. And both inevitably suffer premature demises.

In both Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Shakespeare's Macbeth the lives of the main characters involve a constant struggle with their dreams. Gatsby tries to win back the girl of his dreams, Daisy, by becoming something he's not, a member of high society, while Macbeth believes the prediction of the witches and spends his life trying to make it come true. These struggles lead ultimately to their premature demises. Both characters are ambitious and willing to commit crime in order to accomplish their dreams. Both characters are motivated to take these risks by a woman. Although both are ambitious, Gatsby is more admirable because he doesn't deliberately embrace evil as Macbeth does.

Both Macbeth and Gatsby are ambitious and are willing to risk everything for a dream, even if it means committing a crime. Macbeth is at first a loyal general of Duncan's army. However, at his first encounter at Heath, the three witches' prophesize that he will be king. Afterwards, Macbeth no longer remains loyal to his king, or even his friends. Macbeth even knows that if he was to murder Duncan, "This even handed justice commends th' ingredience of our poisoned chalice to our own lips."(Macbeth, 1.7, 10-12)

Yet, even knowing that his guilt will come to haunt him, Macbeth is willing to take that risk in order to become King. Gatsby, who came from poor beginnings, created a fantasy world in which he is rich and powerful. He does this all for his dream, or should I say his dream girl, Daisy Buchanan. Gatsby is never content with what he has. Gatsby as a child even wrote a schedule on the back of a book of which he followed everyday which read,

"Rise from bed............................6.00am

Dumbbell exercise and wall-scaling...6.15-6.30am

Study electricity, etc.....................7.15-8.15am

Work.......................................8.30-4.30pm

Baseball and sports.......................4.30-5.00pm

Practice elocution, poise, and how

to attain it..................................5.00-6.00pm

Study needed inventions..................7.00-9.00pm" (The Great Gatsby 181)

Gatsby manages to get what he wants by working hard for it. He wants money, and he gets it. He wants Daisy, and he gets her but loses her since because she prefers wealth rather than love. So for five years he does anything he can to get her, even if it means becoming an unscrupulous bootlegger. Bootlegging is illegal, and Gatsby certainly knows the consequences if he is caught, but it doesn't matter to him; Daisy is his future and he has to have her. Nick explains this when he says, "Then it had not been merely the stars to which he had aspired on that June night. He came alive to me, delivered suddenly from the womb of purposeless splendor" (The Great Gatsby 83) Gatsby and Macbeth are willing to take huge chances in order to achieve what they want, even if it means becoming someone their not.

Both Macbeth and Gatsby are motivated to take these risks by the women in their lives. Lady Macbeth is highly responsible for the evil doings of Macbeth, who became a sufferer to her ambitions. By questioning his masculinity, she urges her husband to kill Duncan and become king. She asks

"What beast was't, then,

That made you break this enterprise to me"

When you durst do it, then you were a man;...
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