The Great Gatsby Character Analysis

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Elizabeth Chung
The Great Gatsby Character Profiles

Jay Gatsby

Born James ‘Jimmy’ Gatz; father- Henry C. Gatz.
Titular character
Rose from an impoverished childhood in rural North Dakota (no connections, money or education) to become fabulously wealthy Organised crime- illegal alcohol (bootlegging)
Motivation- love & Daisy Fay; met when he was a young military officer in Louisville before leaving for WWI in 1917. Fell in love with luxury/grace/charm, lied about his past to woo her First speaking role in chapter 3

Initially aloof, enigmatic host, surrounded by luxury, powerful and beautiful people Subject of gossip
Ch6- learn of his childhood
Ch7- proof of criminality
Later on- lovesick, naïve, innocent, hopeful, centred on dreams Delayed revelations- ‘emphasise the theatrical quality of Gatsby’s approach to life’ Transformed self into a persona
‘Ability to transform hope and dreams into reality’
Title = reminiscent of ‘The Great Houdini/Blackstone’ etc., suggesting Jay is only an illusion Dream of Daisy falls apart (Wall Street Crash)
Contrasts Nick & Tom
Passionate, active
Loyal and good hearted
Loses love interest to Tom, like George Wilson.
Temporarily lost touch with father
MSNBC political commentator Chris Matthews sees him as the eternal American striver: "Gatsby needed more than money: he needed to be someone who had always had it..... this blind faith that he can retrofit his very existence to Daisy's specifications is the heart and soul of The Great Gatsby. It's the classic story of the fresh start, the second chance." ‘appears to be the quintessential American male hero…powerful businessman with shady connections, drives a glamorous car’(- Michael Kimmel and Amy Aronson) Often used as a symbol for wealth

Believes American dream
New man = born when he met Dan Cody
Restless- like America, resourceful and active
Never cynical or corrupt
Cannot see daisy’s fault (using him for a release from her boring life & retaliation from husband) Pretends he, not Daisy, killed Myrtle
Killed by George Wilson
"Jimmy was bound to get ahead. He always had some resolves like this or something. Do you notice what he's got about improving his mind? He was always great for that. He told me I et like a hog once, and I beat him for it" "Somebody told me they thought he killed a man once."

"it's more that he was a German spy during the war."
He was never quite still; there was always a tapping foot somewhere or the impatient opening and closing of a hand.  ‘consumed with wonder at her presence’ (Daisy’s)

Nick Carraway

Sober, reflective
Narrator
Slowly moves to forefront
From upper Midwest, family in America a little over 70 years Sent substitute to war (therefore of a wealthier class)
Acts similarly to an ‘Everyman’
Is not blinded by glitz and glamour
Disgusted by realisation of shallowness, hollowness, uncaring and self-serving attitude of his superiors. Distances self instead of catering to them More practical and down-to-earth than Buchanans and Jordan Baker (and so distances himself) Has personal integrity

Affected by Gatsby’s death
grows, from a man dreaming of a fortune, to a man who knows only too well what misery a fortune can bring romantic relationship with Jordan Baker

calls himself "one of the few honest people that I have ever known

Daisy Fay/Buchanan

Enigmatic
Tom’s wife, Gatsby’s love interest, Nick’s second cousin one removed, mother of Pammy Beautiful, charming
Selfish, shallow, hurtful
See the world for what it is, cruel (why she’s happy her child is a daughter so she can be a ‘beautiful little fool’ Character built on light, purity and innocence
Otherworldly- angelic
White- purity or void?
Name- pure, centred around gold (wealth, status and money)
Finds noveaux riches to be tedious and vulgar
Materialistic
“Thinking about Gatsby stretching his arms out to the green light across the water, we can't help thinking of the Sirens: the mythical island...