What are the perceptions of reality for Gatsby, Daisy, Tom, Myrtle, and Meyer Wolfsheim in The Great Gatsby?

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Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan, Tom Buchanan, Myrtle Wilson and Meyer Wolfsheim are not necessarily self-deceiving but are certainly involved in deception of others. They have all created their own realities which can be seen as the "Great American Dream" of wealth and love. Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby is at times a snapshot of The Jazz Age, and, as such the characters reflect the dissolute and the disembling of this era. In many ways, they have chosen to create their own realities, much as people of modern times do.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby is at times a snapshot of The Jazz Age, and, as such the characters reflect the dissolute and the disembling of this era.  In many ways, they have chosen to create their own realities, much as people of modern times do.

Gatsby is certainly involved in both deception and self-deception as he displays his new wealth in material possessions and evening gayla with friends whose names he does not know.  Yet, he himself is deceived in his pursuance of an illusionary "American Dream" of wealth and love, both of which prove false.  Daisy, whose voice "sounds like money" is impressed with this many colored shirts and his car, but vacillates in her profession of love for him.  But, Gatsby, who does have real books inside the leather covers in his library, as Owl Eyes has discovered, is basically genuine; he chooses the deceptive life in order to reach the illusionary green light at the end of Daisy's pier, in order to attain her.

Daisy, like her name appears pure and sweet in her white dresses that mirror the flower whose name she bears.  Yet, as the "golden girl" and one who loves money and is materialistic and shallow, she is much like the center of her flower--yellow, the color of corruption and gold.

Tom Buchanan involves himself with deceiving Mrytle Wilson into believing that he actually cares for her and thinks of her as an equal, but when she dares to criticize his class, he blackens her eye.  He attempts to deceive his wife with this tryst with Mrytle, of course, while adding to his deception of others by dressing like the country gentleman in riding attire. Perhaps, his most villainous deception is that of leading Mrytle's husband to believe that Gatsby has driven "the death car."  Tom's concept of reality is that it can be manipulated by those who are most powerful, an idea he certainly suggests in his promotion of his own race to maintain control of society.

Meyer Wolfsheim's name indicates much about him.  He is a predatory man who uses Gatsby to further his own wealth, caring nothing for the dreamy Jay Gatsby.  As a foil to Gatsby who is loyal to Daisy, Woflsheim has no deceptions of honor or the like in his morally corrupt soul. His main deception is in his creation of a business that is outside the parameters of legitimacy and the real business world, but he knows himself and is wary of others.  Wofsheim's perception of reality is at its most sordid; he is paranoid as he knows there are others wolves waiting to devour him.  His cuff links, two molars, suggest this idea.

 

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Concerning The Great Gatsby, you don't ask for an answer to the statement itself, but only for an explanation of what, "what constitutes reality," means, so I'll try to answer that for you. 

In short, this refers to how the characters view or perceive reality; what reality is for them. 

Gatsby perceives reality in an idealistic way.  He puts Daisy on a pedestal and idealizes her.  He also idealizes his relationship with her, and sees their relationship, their past, as something that can be recaptured.  His perceptions are faulty, however:  his reality is an illusion.  Daisy is not perfect, their relationship was never as he saw it (Daisy never loved him as he loves her), and the past cannot be recaptured ever, but especially when the past as he sees it never existed in the first place. 

This is Gatsby's reality.  I'll leave the rest to you or other editors.  In case you'd like a description of actual deception by the characters, I'll place an extra link below to when this question was previously answered. 

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Gatsby's deception lies in the fact that he is playing a pafrt. He has made enough money (ostensibly through his underground dealings and bootlegging) to pretend to belong to the same class of people that Tom and Daisy belong to. However, it is revealed at the end that Jay Gatz is a man of humble origins but great ambitions. He deceives himself into believing that if he can become a member of the upper class he will be able to win Daisy's love. So, once he gets his wealth, he goes on a campaign to bring her back into his life and then deceives himself into believing that she actually loves him,, that she will leave her husband for him,, that she cares about anything other than money and security. Gatsby's perception of reality, therefore, is one in which money is the most important aspect of life. That and social status which can be bought if one has enough monry.

Daisy's perception of reality is one of the sheltered woman who has married money because that is what is expected if her. She sees herself as the pretty girl (which is all she wants for her own daughter - to be beautiful and dumb) who deserves to be taken care of monetarily and to have any mistakes she makes (such as killing Myrtle) covered up my the liberal application of money. She deceives herself into believing that this lifestyle can somehow bring her happiness.

Tom's deception is one of power and control. He deceives himself into believing that he gets away with his affairs, and he believes that his money and his power are all that he will ever need. He sees the world as revolving around him and the fact that he does not suffer any lasting ill effects from the events of the novel seem to show that, for people like Tom, their perception of reality becomes their reality, sad though it may seem to the outside observer.

Myrtle deceives herself into believing that Tom actually loves her and will eventually tale her away to live in his rich world. He fuels that deception with the apartment in the city and the dog, but it is only a role that she will be allowed to play in secret. Although Tom is bothered by Myrtle's violent demise, he goes on with his marriage as though nothing happened and, we can assume, he will likely find another Myrtle dome day to fill that void that he needs of living a second life underneath his wife's willingly ignorant nose.

Meter Wolfsheim has the most logical and realistic perception of life. He knows that what he does is dangerous, he has seen people killed, he is aware of the need to be careful, and he takes as much care as possible. He shows his love to his friends while they are alive because all of us will one day die and it will not matter to the dead what we think about them after they are gone. while he exists in the underworld, he lives in a world that he has created for himself and he is constantly aware of the parameters that define that world and what he must do in order to keep it from falling down around him.

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"Most of the main characters in The Great Gatsby are involved in delusion, deception & self deception." How valid is this statement?

To treat this statement about The Great Gatsby, simply take one character at a time and see if he/she suffers from illusions or practices deception.  I'm not sure I would worry too much, especially while your gathering evidence, about the "perceptions" part.  That should come clear later, after you've gathered evidence, but even if it doesn't, figuring the illusions of and deception by the characters is most of what you're looking for.

For instance, Gatsby suffers from the illusion that Daisy loves him as much as and in the same way that he loves her.  She doesn't.  This is a beautiful illusion, but it is still an illusion.  Gatsby dedicates five hears of his life trying to recapture a past, that in reality, never existed in the first place.  He suffers from illusion and self-deception.  He tells Nick that, of course, one can capture the past.  But, of course, one cannot, especially when that past never even existed.  Gatsby's relationship with Daisy from the past is Gatsby's reality.  But it's a faulty reality.

Nick is another example:  he deceives the reader, beginning his story with an anecdote (his father teaching him) that demonstrates the fact that he doesn't judge people.  But he does judge people.  This is deception.  Reality to Nick, his perception, is his honest character and his objective nature.  But these, too, are illusions.  He is certainly not objective.

Tom and Daisy also have illusions and practice deceptions.  I'll leave those two to you. 

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"Most of the main characters in The Great Gatsby are involved in delusion, deception & self deception." How valid is this statement?

In my mind, it is extremely valid and many people consider the characters in the novel to be extremely deceptive and it is considered one of the themes.  The entire quest of Gatsby to obtain Daisy's love and be accepted by her society is one based on illusion, particularly since her love for him turns out to also be an illusion as she is constantly deceiving almost everyone she is involved with.  She too of course is the victim of Tom's betrayal and unfaithfulness and he gets wrapped up in his quest to maintain the secrecy of his dalliances.

The only person outside of most of this is Nick as he is simply placed as an observer and he sees the immense deception of it all, not just individual characters but also that of the entire set of "high society" as he observes their absurd behavior at the party and the way they are attracted to money and the illusion of sophistication at every turn.

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How can I discuss the following statement in regards to the main characters of The Great Gatsby:"Most characters in the Great Gatsby are involved in deception, self-deception and delusion, depending on their perception of what constitutes reality."

To treat this statement about The Great Gatsby, simply take one character at a time and see if he/she suffers from illusions or practices deception.  I'm not sure I would worry too much, especially while your gathering evidence, about the "perception of what constitutes reality" part.  That should come clear later, after you've gathered evidence, but even if it doesn't, figuring the illusions of and deception by the characters is most of what you're looking for.

For instance, Gatsby suffers from the illusion that Daisy loves him as much as and in the same way that he loves her.  She doesn't.  This is a beautiful illusion, but it is still an illusion.  Gatsby dedicates five hears of his life trying to recapture a past, that in reality, never existed in the first place.  He suffers from illusion and self-deception.  He tells Nick that, of course, one can capture the past.  But, of course, one cannot, especially when that past never even existed.  Gatsby's relationship with Daisy from the past is Gatsby's reality.  But it's a faulty reality.

Nick is another example:  he deceives the reader, beginning his story with an anecdote (his father teaching him) that demonstrates the fact that he doesn't judge people.  But he does judge people.  This is deception.  Reality to Nick is his honest character, and his objective nature.  But these, too, are illusions. 

Tom and Daisy also have illusions and practice deceptions.  I'll leave those two to you. 

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How can I discuss the following statement in regards to the main characters of The Great Gatsby:"Most characters in the Great Gatsby are involved in deception, self-deception and delusion, depending on their perception of what constitutes reality."

Gatsby is involved in deception. He is not who he appears to be. He came from a poor family and he worked his way to wealth through what we can assume were some business deals of the bootleg or black market variety (as evidenced by his connection with Meyer Wolfsheim). He portrays himself as an Oxford man, and he did attend Oxford for a term, but only because he was allowed to after his time in the service. He does not come from the background that he makes himself appear to come from. In fact, he has put on this mask as a means of getting Daisy whose philosophy is that rich girls don't marry poor boys.

Daisy practices self-deception. She decieves herself into oretending to be happy in a marriage to a man who cheats on her. She believes in the fairy take romance that she starts with Gatsby. Ultimately, she decieves herself and those around her when she retreats to her "happy family" even after killing Myrtle, a crime for which she is never punished.

Tom deceives himself in his belief that Daisy is unaware of his affair.

Myrtle deceives herself into believing Tom loves her and into believing that she is a part of his world on their jaunts to the apartment in the city. She deceives herself into thinking that he will take her away from her poor existence at the gas station.

Nick's self deception is far less evident. He has a general belief in the goodness of humanity that is out to the test by the people he meets. His friendship with Gatsby teaches him the importance of friendship, but it also exposes to him the fact that money and power are not really all that they might have appeared to have been to him in the past.

A final interesting character to consider is Meyer Wolfsheim. He deceives people daily - it is his "career" in a sense. But, he is also perhaps the most grounded and more of a realist about life. He knows that what he does is dangerous, but he takes care to steer clear of the fallout. He knows that people die, people are killed, and he values them for who they are while they are alive and does not mourn them overly much when they are gone.

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