English II HonorsMs. O’Connell
Something Gorgeous About Him
While thrown into this materialistic, money-oriented time period and setting in The Great Gatsby, one would expect to find equally egotistical and selfish characters, and for the most part, there are. Tom Buchanan is practically the definition of narcissistic when he is introduced with his arrogant riding clothes and supercilious manner. His wife Daisy is not that different, desiring nothing more than beauty and possessions and understanding only self-centered desires. One would then expect Jay Gatsby, the wealthiest of them all, to be equally unlikable. “Gatsby…represented everything in which I have an unaffected scorn” the narrator, Nick states in the opening on the novel. However, despite the dishonesty, materialism, and disillusionment, it is easy to find oneself liking Gatsby. “There was something gorgeous about him,” Nick also states, contracting his previous statement, “some heightened sensitivity” (6). Readers become fond of Gatsby despite the wrong he’s done and his involvement in the materialistic world because of his romantic and unselfish intentions. Although often proven to be a liar, his deceit is only a result of Gatsby’s desire to better himself in order to gain the love of Daisy. He constantly hides and shuns his past, lying to Nick, Tom, and Daisy about a plethora of subject pertaining to his personal history. However, he does not reject his past out of shame but out of his compulsive obsession with self-improvement (at a young age, he even wrote out schedules about goals and resolutions he had to better himself over the day). He also lies about how he acquired his wealth, telling Nick in several different occasions that he inherited his money and in others claiming he earned it, when in reality he obtained his money through bootlegging and other illegal acts within his association with Meyer Wolfsheim, who organized the World Series Scandal. These actions and characteristics may seem incredibly unlikable at a shallow glance, but once dove into deeper one can see that he only felt obligated to obtain the money out of desperation. He is so naïve he believes that having money will help him win over Daisy, which proves his need for acquiring wealth comes out of love and not selfishness. Although Gatsby lives in a gigantic, luscious mansion and throws overly extravagant parties, his obtainment of wealth and stature was not out of any yearning for money or materials, but rather to impress the women he loved. The infamous parties he throws every Saturday are put on in hope that Daisy will in fact come to one of them. “…He half expected her to wander into one of his parties some night” (84). He is extremely generous at these events in order to make a good name for himself, even at one occasion buying a woman a new dress she had ruined at one of his parties. He devotes his life to gaining a surplus wealth so he can make Daisy feel satisfied and secured if they were to ever share a future together. He is obviously extremely devoted to her happiness, staying after Myrtle’s accident to wait for Daisy and make sure she was feeling okay. Although trying to impress her was evidently the incorrect way to come to terms with his feelings, Gatsby’s romantic intentions make him all the more lovable. Gatsby’s juvenile behavior and idealized view of the world does not cause him to become frustrating and bothersome but rather even more likable. Under the illusion that because he has money he could do whatever he wants, including repeating the past (“Can’t repeat the past…Why of course you can!”) and he has trouble with the concept that something’s cannot be bought (116). His romanticized and idealized version of life only makes him more sympathetic as a naïve man rather than skeptical. His way of dealing with his relationship with Daisy and his reluctance to let go of the past may be immature, but yet remain kind-natured and romantic. Unlike most characters in the novel, Gatsby’s purpose and dreams do not revolve around money or valuables. He strives for happiness and love, which makes him, in Nick’s words, “worth the whole damn bunch put together” (162). Within The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald describes it as an idea that society has become obsessed with acquiring wealth rather than acquiring happiness. Tom and Daisy embody this idea of materialistic, artificial, money-oriented ideals, while Gatsby himself personifies the ideals of romance, generosity, and kindness through his dreams of love and contentment. Although he goes about corrupt and immature ways to obtain these things, his intentions are pure. Though misunderstood, he is truly a wholesome and respectable character, and thus he is a character that is inevitably likable. In Nick’s words, “Gatsby turned out all right at the end” (6).