The Great Gatsby discusses Gatsby and his “Platonic conception of himself.” What is the significance of that passage as it pertains not only to Gatsby, but also to the American Dream?

In The Great Gatsby, Nick explains that the seventeen-year-old Jay Gatz invented an idealized or Platonic version of himself when he renamed himself Jay Gatsby. Likewise, the earliest settlers in America dreamed of creating an ideal society that would right the wrongs of Europe. Both dreams were doomed to failure but were nevertheless admirable for their audacity.

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In The Great Gatsby, at the start of chapter 6, Nick Carraway, the narrator, asserts that Jay Gatsby “sprang from his Platonic conception of himself.” Carraway’s contention about Gatsby’s Platonic origins is contrasted with Gatsby’s real origins, which Carraway learns about from a young reporter.

The Platonic idea suggests that Gatsby wants people to believe that he, in a way, created himself. His person is so extraordinary that his being sprang not from a regular sexual union but from something incorporeal and otherworldly. Carraway confirms Gatsby’s preternatural view of himself when he designates Gatsby “a son of God.” Like, say, Jesus Christ, Gatsby is a miraculous and singular creature.

The "Platonic" passage is significant to Gatsby because it provides further proof of his grandiose character. It clarifies why Gatsby conducts himself in such a mysterious, elusive manner. He wants to be unknowable and possess the power that such opacity confers. Of course, Gatsby is not a...

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