What is the importance of obsessions in The Great Gatsby?

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Obsession is the driving force of all the central characters in the novel.

Gatsby is obsessed with recapturing the past and becoming like the old-money inhabitants of East Egg. He wants to have all the trappings of the American Dream. Most of all, he wants the heart of Daisy Buchanan ...

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Obsession is the driving force of all the central characters in the novel.

Gatsby is obsessed with recapturing the past and becoming like the old-money inhabitants of East Egg. He wants to have all the trappings of the American Dream. Most of all, he wants the heart of Daisy Buchanan. Being with her, both someone he loves and a symbol of the East Egg world he covets, would be the ultimate victory.

Daisy is obsessed with the security that comes with her old-money background. Though she loves Gatsby, she loves her privileged lifestyle more and stays with an unfaithful brute of a husband just so she can be protected by her money, no matter what she does. She isn't willing to face the scandal of leaving Tom for someone with a criminal and lower-class background like Gatsby.

Nick, the narrator, is obsessed with Gatsby. The charm and enigma of Gatsby is alluring, and Nick likes him a great deal, since Gatsby seems more authentic than all the shallow wealthy people Nick has met. His obsession with the romantic Gatsby might represent a desire to go back to a more idealistic way of thinking, since Nick is a cynic. Like Gatsby, Nick too might wish to recapture the past and innocence. When Gatsby is killed, Nick returns to the Midwest, his obsession now gone.

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In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald uses the character of Nick Carraway to critique the class and wealth obsession of Americans. The author does so primarily by having Nick focus on Jay Gatsby and his transformation from Jay Gatz and relentless pursuit of Daisy. Jay's obsession with Daisy is one symptom of the general American obsession. By using Nick's first-person narrator to tell this story, Fitzgerald also shows the reader that Nick is caught up in that obsession, both through his focus on Gatsby and his personal story.

The glittering world of the Roaring Twenties; Gatsby's rapid rise, almost certainly through bootlegging and organized crime; and Daisy's hypocrisy in marrying Tom are prominent aspects of Nick's rendering of the wealth and status leitmotif.

As Nick's life in some ways parallels Jay's, he serves partly as an alter ego.

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To a great extent, the concept of "obsessions" is of vital importance in Fitzgerald's work.  On one hand, Gatsby's obsession with Daisy has been definitely noted.  Through this obsession, his drive for material wealth emerges.  For the entire flapper social set of Tom, Daisy, and Jordan, their obsession is with a lifestyle that revolves around parties, social gossip, and a type of self indulgent lifestyle regardless of cost.  This obsession causes them to use people as means to ends as opposed to ends of themselves.  On another level, the different types of love featured in the work are obsessive and self serving loves.  It is rare that the reader sees a love that is not obsessive, not driven by love of self.  Fitzgerald might be making a statement on how the time period viewed the concept of love as more of an expression of one's own sense of self than a true merging of separate identities into one.

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The central obsession in The Great Gatsby is Gatsby's obsession with Daisy.  This is the reason for Gatsby's existence and for the novel.  It feeds the plot, the themes, the conflicts, the imagery, and the illusions. 

Daisy is obsessed with security, success, money.  Whether one sympathizes with her because she is a female trapped in a patriarchy, or condemns her for being greedy, the obsession is still central to her character.

Tom is obsessed with his stature, his place in society, his image, his success, and with maintaining the status quo.

These obsessions conflict and fuel the narrative.  Though figuratively all of these obsessions may be illusion, in the end, literally, Gatsby's obsession is proved an illusion, while Daisy's and Tom's obsessions survive.

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