What is Gatsby's romantic vision of himself?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Gatsby is a Byroic Hero, known for his personal paradoxes.  Byron as you know, embodied all that was passionate.  He was:

•“Mad—bad—and dangerous to know” •“Think not I am what I appear” • “Like all myths, ‘Byron’ embodied contradictions more than he resolved them.” •“The magnetism of his person- ality offset the cynicism [his poetry] displayed.”

Gatsby is a modern recreation of this magnetism. His desires, unlike Nick's, are intensely focused.  The Byronic Hero shares these characteristics with Gatsby:

•a rebel, •has a distaste for social institutions, •ultimately being self-destructive, •in exile (following the war), •expressing a lack of respect for rank and privilege (esp. re: Tom), •having great talent (or at least ambition), being highly passionate (about Daisy), •hiding an unsavory past (reinventing himself through Dan Cody), •unusually handsome, or inextricably attractive, often to both sexes (Nick and Daisy), •wounded or physically, disabled in some way (by Daisy), •moody, mysterious, and/or gloomy (won't attend his own parties), •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).

Gatsby sees himself as his own god, indefatigable.  He is so wrapped up in his reinvented self, so focused on his goal and desire, that it blinds him to his inevitable death.  This is what separates the tragic hero from the Bryonic: Gatsby never realizes that fate, realism, George, death, etc... have caught up with him.  He never has an epiphany, at least not narrated so by Nick.

lynn30k eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree w/the previous post. Gatsby also saw himself as someone on a quest, almost like a knight. He would do whatever he could to win the perfect maiden, Daisy. He had a very hard time separating his vision of the pure, perfect Daisy with the reality of a married woman--who is also a mother. When he meets Daisy and Tom's little girl, he seems shocked; he knew the child existed, but the reality of her is something he almost seems to block out. When Daisy hits Myrtle w/the car and kills her, Gatsby's concern is only that Daisy can cope. It kind of boils down to Gatsby being "in love" with a woman who doesn't really exist--Daisy as he imagines her, not as she really is. In order to stay true to his vision of himself as attaining the perfect woman, he simply ignores the imperfections.

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The Great Gatsby

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