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Is there anyone who would significantly compare to Jay Gatsby? It has to be a modern...

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ewhitney16 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 19, 2011 at 3:44 PM via web

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Is there anyone who would significantly compare to Jay Gatsby? It has to be a modern person who has been successful after WWII. Thanks!

Is there anyone who would significantly compare to Jay Gatsby? It has to be a modern person who has been successful after WWII. Thanks!

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 20, 2011 at 12:01 PM (Answer #2)

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Gatsby got his money to some extent illegally.  He got his money not for itself but because he wanted something else (Daisy).  He gave up his ideals and then still didn't get what he wanted.

I suppose you could compare this to Richard Nixon.  Nixon acted illegally (Watergate coverup) because he wanted to keep his power and his reputation.  In the end, though, he didn't get what he wanted.  He lost his power and his reputation because of the actions he took to try to keep them.  I think you can compare him to Gatsby in that way.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 20, 2011 at 5:48 PM (Answer #3)

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Born in Queens, New York, in 1938 of Jewish immigrants from Poland, Bernie Madoff, like Jay Gatsby, became rich entirely on his own.  He attended public high school in Queens and went on to Hofstra College, a private institution.  In 1960 he founded the Wall Street firm, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, LLC in 1960.  He began as a penny stock broker with $5,000 that he had saved from being a lifeguard and sprinkler installer. 

Of course, he became extremely wealthy with his infamous ponzi schemes and disguised his criminality by becoming a prominent philanthropist.  He owned homes in Manhatten, Florida, and France; he had a yacht, etc.  In many superficial ways he is comparable to Jay Gatsby; however, he probably was never as idealistic or possessive of any loyalties to others.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 20, 2011 at 5:13 PM (Answer #4)

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There are certainly many men (and undoubtedly some women, as well) who achieved financial success through illicit means, built an empire of some sort, and then fell. The element which separates them from Gatsby, though, is their motivation. Jay Gatsby did not accumulate his wealth for his own benefit and satisfaction; in fact, he always wore his wealth rather uncomfortably. What he wanted to acquire was Daisy, and he used money to lure her, win her, and try to keep her. Perhaps there are others who had this motivation, but I can't think of any whose motivations have been similar.

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