Why is Jay Gatz foolish in The Great Gatsby?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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While Jay Gatsby is not a total fool since he has been able to attain the materialistic American Dream and elevate himself economically and socially to a certain extent, he is, at the same time, a tragic figure because of his foolish, romantic delusion that he can regain Daisy's affections now that he is affluent. 

One foolish act that Gatsby commits, for instance, occurs when he has Nick bring Daisy to his mansion and he pulls out a multitude of color shirts to impress her. Similarly, Gatsby is excessive in his material possessions in the hopes of impressing his apotheosized Daisy; for example, his car is almost mythical in appearance with its "triumphant hatboxes...with a labyrinth of windshields that mirrored a dozen suns" and "fenders spread like wings."  His concoted background is likewise foolishly unrealistic as he

"live like a young rajah in all the capitals of Europe...collecting jewels, chiefly rubies, hunting big game, painting..."

Finally, the most foolish action of Jay Gatsby is his standing vigil outside the window of the Buchanans' the night of the killing of Mrytle Wilson.  For, inside the house Tom and Daisy conspire against him in an act that leads to Gatsby's tragic death while he foolishly believes that Daisy feels affection for him.

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