To what extent can Gatsby be considered a tragic hero?
Before we can judge if Jay Gatsby is a tragic hero, we should look at the exact deﬁnition of a tragic hero. According to the classic deﬁnition, a tragic hero is a «great or virtuous character in a dramatic tragedy who is destined for downfall, suffering, or defeat»1, and Oedipus, from the Greek Legends, is deﬁned as the classic tragic hero.
So, is Gatsby then a classic tragic hero, by deﬁnition? ! Even if the book itself is called «Great Gatsby», is Jay really great? From the text, we know that he came from a poor family, and made his fame and money through illegal business, and created a fake world of his own surrounding his reality, because he never accepted reality as it was. He didn’t even want to accept his biological parents as such, because he thought his destiny and his background should be better. He created a world of lies around himself, which grew so much that it consumed Gatsby, and he no longer could live and dream anywhere other than his made-up reality. From his early years, Gatsby had already planned his future, and would not accept any other way other than the one he had set for himself. Even if at the start of the book, we see Gatsby as, well, «great», we later realise that Gatsby is actually quite arrogant, and controlling. He would hate things to go the wrong way, and this is partly why he’s so obsessed with Daisy. As soon as his love for Daisy entered his made-up reality, it got stuck there. Getting Daisy for himself became Gatsby’s goal in life, and the fact that they couldn’t be together only encouraged Gatsby to work harder. He thought his fame and money would attract Daisy, and then he probably imagined a life with Daisy, a happy marriage, kids, and money, just the way he would have wanted. In my opinion, the «great» in his name is sarcastic, or depending on the perspective. Gatsby has evolved from being a poor farmer boy to a famous man, but he lives in a world of his own....
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