The Great Gatsby: Gatsby's Illusion of Himself

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The Great Gatsby: Gatsby's Illusion of Himself

F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is considered a novel that embodies America in the 1920s. In it, the narrator, Nick Carroway, helps his neighbor Jay Gatsby reunite with Daisy Buchanan, with whom he has been in love with since 5 years before, during World War I. The affair between the two fails, however, and ends in Gatsby being shot and killed. The reason that this was inevitable is that Gatsby created a fantasy so thoroughly that he became part of it, and he fell with it when reality came crashing down.

The basis of all of this is Gatsby's obsession with Daisy and with meeting her. He did not want to deal with the reality that confronted him upon returning from the war. Fortunately, he had "an extraordinary gift, a romantic readiness," and he found in Daisy someone to focus this on. She is perfection to him, something for which he can strive, so he puts all of his energy into finding her again. He uses his inherited money to travel around the country, searching; when he runs out, he goes into the drug business, then oil, then liquor. He clips out articles about Daisy from every newspaper he can find; he buys a huge, romantic house that he hopes will merit her approval. The parties that he throws every night in hopes that she will come become almost famous for their extravagance and the variety of people that come.

A result of this is that Gatsby creates an illusion around himself, also. His past is shrouded in mystery and speculation: some favorites of the party-goers' theories on why he is so free and generous with his resources are that he once killed a man and that he was a German spy during the war. He does nothing to discourage these rumours; rather, he often adds to them. He lets people believe that he was an Oxford man and that his money was inherited from his father, when in fact he only attended Oxford for a short time and his money all came from outside his family. Jay Gatsby is not even...
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