Gatsby’s Greatness Questioned
Jay Gatsby is undoubtedly a man of great wealth, however, his character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby serves to demonstrate the fact that opulence is not necessarily followed by greatness. Only through other people’s perceptions can one achieve this status, and Gatsby, try as he might, failed in his quest for eminence to capture the reader’s support. In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby is a newly rich man in Staten Island pursuing Daisy, his now-married girlfriend of five years past. Daisy’s ultimate rejection of him proves to be his most disheartening blow in the story; we, as readers, also recognize this rejection for something else. It makes the book’s title erroneous. Without others’ approval, specifically Daisy’s, Jay Gatsby could never achieve excellence in the eye of the reader. Daisy was the sole goal that Gatsby had yet to attain, and he failed. Despite his great successes, readers of The Great Gatsby, the assessors of Gatsby’s greatness, cannot overlook this final failure. A second detriment to Gatsby’s virtue is Nick’s view of him. Nick’s character allows the reader to see Gatsby at less than his best. For example, several times in the book, Gatsby shares with Nick his despair in his failure to win Daisy over, and he becomes very melancholy. A look, such as this, at Gatsby’s weaknesses from the viewpoint of a friend consequently leads the reader to the conclusion that he is just a normal guy. Finally, and possibly the easiest to identify, are Gatsby’s two failures to comply with law and popular morals: his affair with Daisy, and his illegal business. These two actions, though they make the book more interesting, are not considered by many to be qualities of one who is great. For these reasons, the reader finds it difficult, if not impossible to deem Gatsby great, and, by definition, this keeps him from being such.