Jay Gatsby


Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in the 2013 Production of the Great Gatsby

Gatsby represents the other side of class spectrum, and is the one character to truly embody the American dream; however flawed Fitzgerald presents it to be.

PROOF ONE: From a Young Age Gatsby Worked Hard for a Better Life. 

“Jimmy was bound to get ahead. He always had some resolves like this or something. Do you notice what he’s got about improving his mind? He was always great for that.”- The Great Gatsby pg. 208

518cd4e05cd6a.preview-620This quote reveals Gatsby’s true nature. His father shows Nick the book, which depicts how as a child Gatsby was constantly trying to better himself, and achieve what he didn’t have. Gatsby was a very determined character, and wouldn’t rest until he had achieved Daisy. He did everything in his power to keep her, even though he can never be happy with her because he is always looking forward to what he could achieve after that. For example, after Gatsby achieves Daisy, he plans to work on getting the other members of the New York elite to accept and respect him. He is constantly thinking about what’s next rather than enjoying his accomplishments.


PROOF TWO: Gatsby is Always Moving, and Never Lazy. 

”He was never quite still; there was always a tapping foot somewhere or the impatient opening and closing of a handle. “

The Great Gatsby pg. 208

tumblr_lsg85q7SOJ1qbl4e7o1_500Nick describes Gatsby as somewhat restless, showing how he is constantly doing something, and can’t stay still. Nick could possibly be suggesting Gatsby has qualities retaining to ADHD. This quote shows how Gatsby is always eager to accomplish something, and moves quickly in life, committing himself and working hard for what he wishes to accomplish.


PROOF THREE: Gatsby Embodies the American Dream

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that‘s no matter – to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther….And one fine morning –

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – The Great Gatsby pg. 216

tumblr_n4x6gvqQtU1tvxe90o1_500Gatsby’s main mission in life was to better himself. However, that changed when he fell in love with Daisy, his main goal was now to better himself so he could achieve Daisy. Over the years, he objectifies her, building her up in his mind as a perfect human being and his only ticket to happiness. His expectations of her ruin their relationship when they finally are together, Gatsby can’t accept her materialism, reliance on money, her child, or the fact that she once loved Tom. Gatsby wants her to be exactly how she was when they were eighteen, but as that was years ago, and she can never be that again. Because of his mind building her up into unrealistic expectations, he can never be happy with her, and will continue to move forward and seek the next accomplishment: the next thing he believes will make him happy. This quote shows Gatsby’s main goal in life, and by extension, America’s main goal, which is to always achieve more, rather than be satisfied with what they have.


Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan and Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby


Gatsby is the epitome of the American dream and is the perfect example of what Fitzgerald is trying to portray about the idea. Gatsby shows how although he accomplished the American dream, he can never be happy because the American dream has no boundaries, so the seeker will always be searching.

Robert-Redford-Jay-GatsbyRobert Redford as Jay Gatsby in the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby

For more on Jay Gatsby’s character, check out this Character Analysis from Emory University.


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