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

Expert Answers info

Jay Gilbert, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Lecturer

bookB.A. from University of Oxford

bookM.A. from University of Oxford

bookPh.D. from University of Leicester


calendarEducator since 2017

write2,220 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

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....

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 574 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Kelvin Brakus eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write2,259 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

belarafon eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write2,867 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Science, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial