"Tom and Daisy might treat Gatsby in a despicable manner, but Gatsby is responsible for his own destruction." To what extent do u agree/disagree?To what extent do u agree/disagree with that...

"Tom and Daisy might treat Gatsby in a despicable manner, but Gatsby is responsible for his own destruction." To what extent do u agree/disagree?

To what extent do u agree/disagree with that statement?  I need to write an essay about this but i need help with it. Should i agree/disagree with the statement and why?

Expert Answers
Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Concerning the issue you ask about in The Great Gatsby, arguing absolutely, either way, is difficult.  The novel, like most high quality, sophisticated fiction, is ambiguous.  The book isn't a good guy and bad guy kind of book.  Characters, like actual people, are mixtures of good and bad traits in the novel. 

Tom tells Wilson that Gatsby owns the car that hits Myrtle.  Wilson kills Gatsby.  Tom is guilty.  But it's not that simple. 

Tom likely doesn't know that Daisy was actually driving the car.  Daisy doesn't confess to him.  Daisy guilty.  But it's not that simple. 

Gatsby plays a part in Daisy not telling Tom, and Gatsby certainly doesn't blame her.  He lurks outside of her house all night in order to protect her from Tom.  He still loves her.  Is Gatsby guilty of his own murder? 

One could go on and on in this way.  You could argue that Wilson pulls the trigger, so he and he alone is responsible.  Tom and Daisy certainly couldn't be charged with Gatsby's murder.  They didn't put Wilson up to it. 

And Gatsby's illusion is Gatsby's illusion.  Is Daisy supposed to lie and pretend that she never loved Tom just to fulfill Gatsby's illusion? Gatsby tries to recapture a past that never was.  He is on a quest that is doomed to fail.  Yet, does that mean that he causes his own destruction? 

In short, I suggest that your question is unanswerable.  I suggest that to answer your question is to simplify an ambiguous novel that, in terms of its ambiguity, accurately reflects life.

But, I know you have an assignment to do, so, if I had to, I'd go with Gatsby causing his own downfall.  Though he, like others in the novel, is a victim of Tom and Daisy, he is the foolish one who chases after a dream that never was.  Daisy never loved him the way that he loves her.  And when it comes down to it, he isn't satisfied with having Daisy love him now, in the book's present.  She does love him and is ready to choose him.  But that isn't enough.  He has to maintain the illusion that their love is something special, that it is never ending, and that Daisy always loved him and never loved Tom.  As Daisy tells him:  he asks too much. 

Gatsby causes his own downfall.  There, I've perjured myself for you.  Hope it helps!

stella-lily-rothe | Student

This is definately a question that can only be answered by you, as it is your opinion that matters here.  The Great Gatsby is a wonderful and sad book, and if you haven't read it in its entirety, it is worthwhile to do so.

What do you think?  When reading the book, think about how Gatsby could have caused his own destruction: being obsessed with a married ex-lover is a big jump-start.  Living his life in the past is important to answering this question.

This qoute from the last page of the novel should help you, as it discusses Gatsby's inability to let go of the past: And as I sat there, brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out Daisy's light at the end of his dock. He had come such a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close he could hardly fail to grasp it. But what he did not know was that it was already behind him ...

Now, does this mean that a soft and romantic heart deserves death?  Does Gatsby's love for Daisy, a woman who never really loved him back, mean that he caused his own destruction?

The best thing for you to do is put yourself in Gatsby's shoes, asking yourself - if were you him - if you would have been responsible for that final moment by the swimming pool.

If you answer honestly, you can't go wrong!

Read the study guide:
The Great Gatsby

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