What is Gatsby's transformation in The Great Gatsby?

James Gatz transforms from an impoverished young man into a wealthy member of the social elite by completely altering his identity and amassing a fortune in the bootlegging industry. Jay Gatsby also transforms into a love-stricken, ambitious man with the goal of marrying Daisy after initially meeting her.

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James Gatz experiences a remarkable transformation by climbing the social ladder, attaining the American Dream, and becoming an affluent member of the social elite. James Gatz hailed ] from a lowly family in North Dakota, and eventually met a wealthy copper tycoon named Dan Cody. He begins his transformation by changing his name to Jay Gatsby and experiences the wonders of the world as he sails with Dan Cody for five consecutive years. Shortly after meeting Daisy,

Gatsby is sent overseas to fight in WWI and briefly attends Oxford University before returning to the United States. After the war, he then meets Meyer Wolfsheim and amasses his wealth in the bootlegging industry. Once Gatsby makes his fortune, he purchases a mansion in the West Egg directly across the bay from the Buchanan estate in hopes of one day reuniting with Daisy. Gatsby not only transforms his identity and social status but also changes his behavior by assuming the air of a wealthy, educated aristocrat.

In addition to Gatsby's remarkable transformation into an affluent member of the social elite, he also experiences an emotional and spiritual transformation. As a young man, Gatsby is depicted as an idealistic, naive person with infinite hope and optimism. Daisy influences Gatsby's ambition; his love for her inspires him to reach seemingly unattainable goals. Five years after his initial relationship with Daisy, Gatsby reunites with her and they begin to carry on an affair. However, his relationship with Daisy quickly sours. Tom, Daisy's husband, exposes him as a bootlegger, which completely ruins his ultimate dream.

Just before Gatsby dies, he recognizes that his dream is unattainable and illusory by realizing that Daisy will never leave Tom. Therefore, Jay Gatsby transforms his identity and experiences a significant emotional change after meeting Daisy and eventually learning that his dream is out of reach.

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There are several transformations Gatsby undergoes. In the first, he refashions himself from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby under the tutelage of Dan Cody. He reinvents himself so he is no longer the poor scholarship boy at St. Olaf's College in Minnesota but instead a fabulously wealthy Long Island man who has gone Oxford.

Love also transforms Gatsby. Because of the love and desire he feels for Daisy Buchanan, Gatsby buys the huge house in Long Island and throws lavish parties, hoping to lure Daisy to someday cross his threshold. These parties gain Gatsby a reputation as a host and create an outsize aura of mystery around him.

Reuniting with Daisy also transforms Gatsby. As Nick notes, a dream attained loses a little bit of its luster, but beyond that, Daisy makes it clear that she is going back to Tom. If Gatsby has not quite accepted that reality by the time of his death (he is still waiting for her phone call), his world has been shaken.

Finally, in Nick's mind Gatsby transforms from a grifter to a man of tragic grandeur who represents the doomed prospects of the American Dream.

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Gatsby starts off as the stereotypical poor boy with dreams of making it big. He idealism money, beauty, and prosperity, all of which are seen in his "love" Daisy. Gatsby starts off doing whatever needs to be done in order to fulfill his dream of being rich and marrying Daisy. He is very disillusioned in the beginning, refusing to see obstacles that stand before his dream (such as Daisy being married, or the coming consequences for his less than honorable means of getting money). At the end of the story, he finally sees the world for what it is. He realizes that Daisy will never leave Tom, and that all his dreams are just that, dreams.

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In F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," Jay Gatsby's greatness lies in his capacity for illusion.  When this illusion is destroyed, then, Gatsby "transforms" into a tragic character.  Thus, through his character Jay Gatsby, Fitzgerald develops his theme of Appearance vs. Reality as well as his criticism of the "American Dream" as the desire of mere materialism.

Representative of the American Dream, Gatsby is a self-made man who came from humble beginnings to wealth and position.  He is youthful and resourceful.  However, accompanying this American Dream of Gatsby is the underlying corruption which leads to his tragic demise.  For, Gatsby allows himself to be exploited in several ways.  First of all, he is exploited as he allows the fashionable people to partake of his parties, food, and home; however Gatsby tragically believes that he is rising in society.  That this is but an illusion is suggested by Nick's alluding to Gatsby as the mythological character Trimalchio, the giver of lavish parties. Then, he is further exploited by Daisy who does not truly love him; she simply has been infatuated with his appearance that is different from what she has known.  Of course, the final exploitation of Gatsby is his being implicated by the villainous Tom Buchanan as the murderer of Myrtle Wilson by manipulating Wilson's conviction that Gatsby is the lover of his wife.

While all the others are guilty of malfeasance in their pursuit of the American Dream--Meyer Wolfsheim's design for wealth is criminal, the Buchanans desire for the good life victimizes others to the point of murder, Jordan Baker cheats to achieve her fame--Gatsby is the only idealistic, unselfish character in the novel.  And, for this reason, he becomes tragic as his dreams are naive illusions.

 

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