Is Gatsby great? If not, why not? If not, what would you retitle the novel: The _____Gatsby. Explain.

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Gatsby is a man who is able to rise above his very humble beginnings, leaving his past behind to recreate himself. He is smart and willing to work hard and take risks to get what he wants. It seems that he has been successful until he falls for Daisy . His inability to let Daisy "go" when they meet the second time in his life is Gatsby's undoing. "Great" is a relative term. In some ways I think he is great in becoming someone much different than he would have been had he not had the dreams and desires to grow and be successful. However, like a tragic hero, he has a flaw that keeps him from...

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alexmarrow | Student

Jay Gatsby's "greatness" is symbolic and embodies the rise and fall of the American Dream. This duality is seen throughout the novel, and the word "great" has a more theatrical, intense meaning rather than one of noble value. This more performative definition of "great" is evident as Gatsby transforms into a new person over the course of the story.

Gatsby is not born into American privilege, but instead tirelessly labors to achieve status and "greatness" by self-made, external means. Ultimately, he does not live up to his lofty goals, and his "greatness" dies with him towards the end of the novel. The concept of striving for this American fantasy, which turns desire into bitterness, is also expressed by the significance of the "green light." This light promises the false hope of power and glory that leaves anyone who chases it empty and disillusioned. This fictional "greatness" is unattainable, but Gatsby was desperate to seek this gratification and valiantly win Daisy's heart in the process. In the final chapter, Nick recalls this sentiment:

"He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night." (chapter 9)

An alternative title I would give to The Great Gatsby is The "Delusional" Gatsby. Although Gatsby's attempts at "greatness" could be seen as authentic through the eyes of strangers, they are fundamentally corrupt and unrealistic at their core. Gatsby possesses sporadic moments of soulfulness, but he is more of a great spectacle, dwelling in delusions of grandeur, rather than a great man of integrity.

kelsmckee | Student

Gatsby is great because he was able to go from rags to riches. And he had the potential to go much farther, there was a quote somewhere about how he could have climbed the later to heaven or something like that but he could only do it alone and that Daisy was the reason that he couldnt reach that. And Gatsby was never really in love with Daisy herself, she was shallow and materialistic. He was obsessed with the image of her that he had created in his mind during all of the years they were apart.

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