Was Gatsby Great
The Great Gatsby is thought to be one of the best novels of all time. Written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1925, it is about a small group of friends living in New York City in the early 1920s. The main character, Nick Carraway, is fascinated by his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. Every weekend, Gatsby hosts amazing parties in his mansion where everybody in the city comes. When Nick gets invited to one of these parties, he hears several rumors about Gatsby.
One rumor is that he killed a man with his bare hands. Later at the party, Nick finally meets the mysterious Gatsby. After talking for a while, Nick and Gatsby start to become good friends. Gatsby then asks Nick for a favor: to set him up with Nick’s cousin, Daisy Buchanan. Unfortunately, Daisy is married to a man named Tom; however, that does not stop Gatsby from trying.
One day, they all go from West Egg to New York City, where Tom and Gatsby get into a huge argument over who should be with Daisy. After a lot of screaming and crying, Daisy ultimately chooses to stay with Tom–even though she knows Tom is having an affair with Myrtle Wilson, who is married to know George Wilson. Later that evening, Daisy drives herself and Gatsby back home. However, Daisy is so upset that she is crying and her vision is blurred. Myrtle Wilson runs out in the street, Daisy does not see her, runs her over, kills her, and drives away.
George Wilson thinks that it was Gatsby who killed Myrtle because it was his car. So, George goes to Gatsby’s house, shoots him, then shoots himself. Afterward, Nick leaves New York and moves to Chicago to start over because he is fed up with the people in New York. He finds them all to be very stuck up and selfish. Throughout the novel, Gatsby is a character who is thought to be great because of his wealth and social status.
Although Gatsby had great moments, he was not great. One reason why Gatsby is not great is because he rarely talks with any of his guests at his parties. Every weekend, when Gatsby hosts very elegant parties, he sits outside of his house, usually by himself. At the first party Nick attends at Gatsby’s house, Nick thinks, The nature of Mr. Tostoff’s composition eluded me, because just as it began my eyes fell on Gatsby, standing alone on the marble steps and looking from one group to another with approving eyes, (Fitzgerald 50).
Gatsby is not talking to anyone at his party. He is standing all by himself and watching other people. This shows that the people who attend his parties do not go so they can talk to Gatsby. Most guests do not even know Gatsby. They go because his parties are fun and exciting, with or without Gatsby.
If Gatsby were interesting, then his guests would want to talk to him. The guests who attend his parties do not know anything about him other than his name. There are many rumors as to who he really is. The guests at his party make up stuff about Gatsby because they do not know who he really is. In one of the literary criticism sources, the author writes, We see Gatsby as Nick sees him, magnified and dazzling in the strobe lights of rumor.
They say he is a German spy, a nephew of Kaiser Wilhelm, a killer, (Birkerts 90). When Nick first hears about Gatsby, everything people tell him is a rumor. Each of the people who attends Gatsby’s parties think something different about him. The guests at Gatsby’s parties do not know who he is. They just speculate on what they have heard about him.
People only go to his house because it is a fun environment, not because Gatsby is there. Nobody goes to Gatsby’s parties because they think he is a great person. Another reason why Gatsby is not great is because he made a lot of his money illegally. During this time in the 1920s, there was a prohibition, so alcohol was illegal. But, at all of Gatsby’s parties, there was a lot of alcohol. Therefore, Gatsby was breaking the law by having alcohol at his house.
This is not the only illegal activity Gatsby does. There are many reasons to believe that Gatsby has made most of his wealth from crime. He knows a person who allegedly fixed the 1919 World Series between the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds.. That man’s name is Meyer Wolfsheim. He is mainly responsible for Gatsby committing crimes.
Wolfsheim took Gatsby in when he was a young boy and treated him like the son he never had. Since he was practically raised by Wolfsheim, Gatsby seems contaminated by more than just criminality and sexual perversity; for it is the fact of Wolfshiem’s crudely stereotyped, animalistic Jewishness that most seems to ‘taint’ Gatsby, (Will 4). If not for Wolfshiem’s influence on Gatsby, Gatsby would not be associated with criminal activity. However, Wolfsheim was a big part in Gatsby’s life, so Gatsby did start to commit crimes. This is not the only thing that makes Gatsby seem like a suspicious character.
When Nick first meets Gatsby, Almost at the moment when Mr. Gatsby identified himself, a butler hurried toward him with the information that Chicago was calling him on the wire. He excused himself with a small bow that included each of us in turn, (Fitzgerald 48). Other times in the book, Gatsby’s butler tells him that a city is calling him. This is most likely because someone is calling him to discuss illegal activity. If it was not, Gatsby’s butler would tell him the name of the caller.
Another source says, Gatsby’s ‘greatness’ is constructed in part of illegal activities that are never fully and clearly defined — bootlegging in a string of drug stores? the handling of bonds and government bribes? Big-time gambling and gangster warfare, (Miller 82). There are many signs that Gatsby is participating in illegal activity, so many that it is hard not to believe he is not a suspicious character. All of the bootlegging and other crimes make Gatsby a bad person. Also, Gatsby tries to be with Daisy, even though he knows she is married. That does not matter to him. Gatsby does what he wants to do and does not follow society’s rules.
After reading The Great Gatsby, it is hard to believe that Gatsby truly is a great person. One source writes, Anyone who has read The Great Gatsby is forced to question the title of the book. The eponymous hero of the novel, we soon discover, is a liar and a criminal. He is arguably neither ‘great’ nor, indeed, ‘Gatsby’ but is, in reality, James Gatz, the son of ‘shiftless and unsuccessful farm people’ from North Dakota, (Stocks 10). Gatsby’s original name is James Gatz, but he later changed it to Jay Gatsby. Two reasons why people would change their name: they really hate their birth name, or they need to hide from the law.
One of the lessons in this book is that you cannot repeat the past, so look forward to the future. But, the novel’s true story is that, Gatsby’s own ‘corrupted innocence’ lies at the heart of the meaning of the novel, (Miller 84). Gatsby does not die because of his criminality, he dies by being a good person; taking the blame for killing Myrtle, which Daisy did, then getting shot by George Wilson. Although this was a noble act, Gatsby is not a great person. The main story of the novel is Gatsby’s life and how the crimes he committed in his past do not affect how he lives.
Gatsby is a liar, a criminal, and he is antisocial. These are not the characteristics of a great person. Works Cited Birkerts, Sven. “A Gatsby for Today: An Enduringly Relevant Novel of Acrid Disillusion and Resurgent Hope.” Atlantic Monthly 1993: 122-26.
Print. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2004.
Print. Miller, Jr., James E. “Fitzgerald’s Gatsby: The World as Ash Heap.” The Twenties: Fiction, Poetry, Drama. Ed.
Warren French. DeLand, FL: Everett/Edwards, 1975. Print. Stocks, Claire. “All men are [not] created equal’: F.
Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby: The English Review 17.3 (2007): 9+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 23 Mar.
2016 Will, Barbara. “The Great Gatsby and the Obscene World.” College Literature 32.4 (2005): 125+. Literature Resource Center.
Web. 23 Mar. 2016