In F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby proves to be as great and as enigmatic as the title of the novel would suggest. Before even meeting Gatsby, the reader is told that the strange man is rumored to be a bootlegger, a spy for the Germans, or even a murderer. All in all, the only thing that people seem to know for certain about Gatsby is that he is fabulously rich and throws good parties.
Far more interesting, however, is Fitzgerald's reasoning behind this fabrication. As the novel suggests, the person at the center of the narrative is going to be great, larger than life, an almost mythological character. As such, Fitzgerald dutifully weaves a mythos around his protagonist, building him up to legendary proportions. In doing so, Fitzgerald sets himself up to draw a sharper contrast once he reveals that Gatsby was in fact very poor, and only became rich to impress a girl. After spending most of the novel considering Gatsby to be a magnificent and special figure, the true nature of his rather pedestrian origins becomes even more disappointing. It would appear that the "Great" Gatsby is not so incredible after all.