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"Great people especially must be careful what they worship" How is this proven by the...

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juenglish12 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 25, 2013 at 12:03 AM via web

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"Great people especially must be careful what they worship" How is this proven by the characters of Gatsby and Hamlet??

I was hoping that someone would be able to help me out.

I can see that both were great in that they were both motivated towards and that what they were motivated towards was not neccesarily worthy of their greatness. However, I was looking for other opinions and views


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writergal06 | Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted March 18, 2013 at 8:34 PM (Answer #1)

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Yours is an intriguing question. Both men were great, but both men were tragic as well. The warning from the quote can be tied to their falls.

Gatsby worshipped Daisy -- everything else he focuses on achieving is for the sake of Daisy. The object of his worship is hopelessly flawed, though. She is bound to Tom by the superficiality of the society she is a part of, as well as her own desire for security and passivity. She doesn't want to DO anything, including leaving Tom. Gatsby's flawed object of worship leads to futile efforts and actions on his behalf, actions that lead to his death. 

Though Hamlet is guilty of worshipping a person also, his father, that is not the item of worship that leads to his fall. Arguable, the worship of intellect and philosophy, the worship of thinking over doing, leads to Hamlet's fall. While intellect is undeniably important, its importance is only realized through action; on its own, pure thought is incapable of producing anything.

Both characters worshipped something flawed -- Gatsby, the idea of Daisy, Hamlet, thought without action. Perhaps if both characters held in esteem something more balanced or less futile, their ends would be different. 

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