According to mythical criticism, Gatsby is the Alazon (the imposter thinks he is better than he really is) AND the Erion (the self-deprecator who thinks he is not as good as he really is). To Tom, he's an Alazon; to Nick, he's an Eiron. What is he to the reader? A bit of both.
Actually Gatsby plays three mythical roles in the novel, according to how it is framed by Nick:
- Hero: rags to riches; lives the American Dream
- Loner/Outcast: rebels against the elitist upper class
- Scapegoat: is blamed for a murder he does not commit
Also important are the mythological symbolism of colors, numbers, shapes, clothes, and cars.
Gatsby doesn't exactly go through all the steps in the hero's journey. He actually subverts the journey, namely the "belly of the whale" stage in which a typical hero must accept his new identity. Gatsby tries to invent his: he is the hero, mentor, and supernatural aid in his own myth. Nick says his is a God who refuses to acknowledge the past. In this way, he is more of a Byronic Hero than an anti-hero. Here are the qualities of a Byronic Hero:
•unusually handsome, or inextricably attractive, often to both sexes •wounded or physically, disabled in some way •moody, mysterious, and/or gloomy •passionate (both in terms of sexuality and deep emotions generally) •remorse laden (for some unnamed sin, a hidden curse, or crime) •unrepentant (despite remorse) •persecuted by fate •self-reliant (often rejecting people on both physical and emotional levels) •is an admirable rebel (against convention, society, religious doctrine) •has a distaste for society and social institutions •is isolated (both physically and emotionally) from society (a wanderer, an exile) •is not impressed by rank and privilege (though he may possess it) •is larger-than-life in his ability--and his pride •suffers gloriously from titanic passions •tends to be self-destructive