One critic contends that Gatsby is not merely a likeable, romantic hero but a creature of myth. What, then, are Gatsby's mythical dimensions in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald?

1 Answer | Add Yours

Top Answer

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In Chapter Six, Fitzgerald's narrator Nick Carraway remarks of Jay Gatsby,
Through all he said, even through his appalling sentimentality, I was reminded of something—an elusive rhythm, a fragment of lost words, that I had heard somewhere a long time ago. 
Jay Gatsby possesses the dimensions of myth as he evokes "lost words" of mythical beliefs in larger-than-life capabilities. In fact, with Gatsby, "[T]he illusions seem more real than the reality," as critic Maurice Bewley observes.
  • Gatsby's tremendous energy of spirit resists reality.

Not complacent to be Jay Gatz, Gatsby reinvents himself as Jay Gatsby, who, "delivered suddenly from the womb of his purposeless splendor" becomes the Trimalchio of myth who held resplendent parties, his mansion is marbled and gilded, his automobile has fenders that "spread like wings," and a labyrinth of windshields that mirrored a dozen suns." He confides in Nick that Daisy is not just a woman whom he loves:

...he found that he had committed himself to the following of a grail. 

  • Gatsby invests his illusions with faith.

He romantically enlarges the possibilities of life, believing

a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy's wing.

Gatsby creates for himself an image of Daisy as pure and lovely, convinced that she will love him again as she has loved him in the past, perhaps more so since he has become wealth and successful. When Nick in Chapter Six realistically tells Gatsby that he cannot repeat the past, the romantic Gatsby retorts, "Can't repeat the past? Why, of course you can." And, as Gatsby talks to Nick about his past, he describes his first kiss from Daisy. This kiss from the socially elite Daisy has marked his acceptance into the socially elite world to which Gatsby has aspired. Therefore, Gatsby believes he has been elevated to "a son of God":

At his lips' touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.

Having been accepted, he feels, into the world of socially elite, Gatsby believes that he can recapture the past and attain his "grail."

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,994 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question