The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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In The Great Gatsby, is Jay Gatsby truly great as the title implies?

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The implications of this title are interesting to discuss. Ultimately, we know that as far as Nick is concerned, Gatsby is indeed "great." Even at the end of the novel when his pretensions to wealth and social status have been revealed as fraudulent, to Nick, Gatsby is still a better person than Daisy, Tom, or any of the rest of them. Gatsby has been a true friend to Nick, and Nick is keen that Gatsby understands that this is more valuable than any accident of birth that would have seen Gatsby born into a rich family rather than working himself up to a point where he could finance himself and pretend to have gone to Oxford.

Secondarily, however, "The Great Gatsby " is phrased in such a way that it recalls music hall or magician-type stage names, like "The Great Houdini." It is very unlikely that anyone would call a contemporary "The Great" anything without meaning it ironically. We could infer from this, then, that the title is a reference to Gatsby's skill as an illusionist, as it were....

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