The Great Gatsby: The “real” Gatsby

When most readers read the book, "the Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of the many questions asked is "is Gatsby real or phony" F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the novel as a critique of the 20’s, but Gatsby stands out as surprisingly different around him and in such a manner that none can help but see him as "great."

During the course of the novel “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, there is a general question on whether or not Gatsby is a “phony” person or is actually genuine.  Now, to look at this, it’s important to note one quote that Nick gives early on in the story.  Nick states “reserving judgment is a matter of infinite hope.”  Nick’s character in the novel is important because he gives an unbiased account to the events of Jay Gatsby and all the others.  But to the quote, as long as judgment is withheld, there is always hope that a person is better than they are thought to be.  Therefore, there is added significance to Nick’s commentary at the end of the story when he judges the actions of Daisy, and Tom stating that they are people who “smash up things…and let others clean up the mess they made,” or in other words, he has given up hope and has judged their characters.  Yet, Nick never seems to judge Gatsby.  It is Clear that Gatsby is not the most honest of person in either words or actions, yet Nick can’t help but admire him.

How come Gatsby is not marked in the end like the others?  How can he be so dishonest but still seems to be a person of admiration for striving for his dreams.  If Nick does not seem to show as much distaste for Gatsby as he seems to do toward everyone else in the story, then it must be asked why.  Both the Buchanans and Gatsby seem to have little regard for anyone else in their lives.  Further, both sets of characters are deceitful.  For a first glance analysis, it is evident that Gatsby is as phony, as rotten as everyone else.  But Gatsby has one thing that separates him from the world of money and the fakeness of the rich society which is his dream and motivation.  It has been argued that because Gatsby uses the circumstances around him that he must be fake altogether, but from the narrative that Nick Caraway gives, it is this element that makes him real.

Gatsby is not so much concerned with money as he is with winning Daisy.  Now, it is also mentioned that Gatsby rather enjoyed the rich life, but who would honestly declare that they would not want to be rich at all.  After all, with wealth comes a sense of power, a sense that anything is possible.  So omitting this, it would still be true to say that Gatsby cared more about Daisy than the money.  The fact is, Gatsby clearly used money as a tool.  The lavish parties he held were fairly insignificant to him as far as enjoying them.  His parties were meant to draw Daisy’s attention and hope that she would someday come.  This is Gatsby’s preoccupation.  Even when Nick first sees Gatsby, all he is doing is looking across the bay and staring at the green light which represents his dream of being with Daisy.

Also, Jay Gatsby is one of the only characters, and probably the only one of the characters with wealth to take the consequences of his actions and thereby demonstrating care and personhood.  With this, Gatsby is willing to state what he is thinking and will take the consequences.  At the dinner, it is Gatsby who is so sure of the love between Daisy and himself that he announces that she was going to leave tom for him.  Regardless of the outcomes, Gatsby was willing to take responsibility for this and protect Daisy.  Ultimately, Gatsby’s downfall came out of dedication for Daisy when he stood outside Daisy’s home and waited to make sure she wasn’t hurt by Tom.  He was even going to admit that he was the one driving the car which killed Myrtle, yet all the while, Tom and Daisy sat by and as Nick observed that night “anybody would have said that they were conspiring” as though neither one seemed to care about the events that were to unfold.  The next day, Gatsby would die for the death of Myrtle by Mr. Wilson’s hand who would then suffer for the insensitivity of Daisy.  Nick’s biggest critique of Tom and Daisy was that they retreated to their money and let others clean up the mess, and at the end of the story, Nick, Mr. Wilson and Gatsby all suffer and Tom and Daisy seem to carry on as though it were another day.

One of the major arguments suggesting that Gatsby was not a “real” person was that at his funeral, no one save for his father and Nick showed.  It would seem to indicate that he had no friends at all, no one he talked too cared about him and his life was a waste.  While those are all true, the people Gatsby affiliated with himself in the novel were hardly characters of virtue and “real” themselves.  The only two real people seen in the novel are Nick, Gatsby’s father, Mr. Wilson and Gatsby.  Therefore, since the other people in the story were “fake” themselves, it doesn’t seem like it is necessary for him to have a large crowed at his funeral because none of those other people cared about anyone or anything.  The real tragedy was that Daisy did not come as it clearly demonstrated that Gatsby’s one dream had died and could never be revived.  All of his goals, his dreams, all died with him.

 In conclusion, Gatsby is real because he stood for something.  He stood for love and for dreams.  Gatsby had a vision.  He had something that no other character in the novel had: namely, a goal.  Nick comments how he was baffled looking across the bay and wondered what it was like for Gatsby to have looked across the bay and see his dream so close, so obtainable, and yet so far away.  To be real is to have substance as a character and to have humanity.  Most of the other characters simply looked for pleasure, status, money, but Gatsby looked for love.  Everything crooked about him seems to pale before his relentless pursuit of a dream.  Thus, in the shallow world of the 1920’s where everything was exactly as it seemed, Gatsby stands out amongst it all in his deepness of character and stands out to be who he is which is “The Great Gatsby”

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