The Traits of Jay Gatsby Essay

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When looking at Jay Gatsby, one sees many different personalities and ideals. There is the gracious host, the ruthless bootlegger, the hopeless romantic, and beneath it all, there is James Gatz of North Dakota. The many faces of Gatsby make a reader question whether they truly know Gatsby as a person. Many people question what exactly made Jay Gatsby so “great.” These different personas, when viewed separately, are quite unremarkable in their own ways. When you take them together, however, you discover the complicated and unique individual that is Jay Gatsby.

One of the traits of Gatsby that makes him truly great is his remarkable capacity for hope. He has faith that what he desires will come to him if he works hard enough. He does not comprehend the cruelty and danger that is the rest of the world. Gatsby, while a man of questionable morals, is as wide-eyed and innocent as a small child in his views of the world. These ideals are evident in Nick’s narration and in the words spoken by the other characters, including Gatsby himself.

For five years, Gatsby was denied the one thing that he desired more than anything in the world: Daisy. While she was willing to wait for him until after the war, he did not want to return to her a poor man who would, in his eyes, be unworthy of her love. Gatsby did not want to force Daisy to choose between the comfortable lifestyle she was used to and his love. Before he would return to her, he was determined to make something of himself so that Daisy would not lose the affluence that she was accustomed to possessing. His desire for Daisy made Gatsby willing to do whatever was necessary to earn the money that would in turn lead to Daisy’s love, even if it meant participating in actions...

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..., and that when he returned, she would welcome him back with open arms.

When reflecting on his memories of the man he knew as Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway recalls the unique individual’s finest quality: “It was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again” (Fitzgerald 2). Although Gatsby occasionally stepped off the straight and narrow, he never lost sight of his ultimate goal: Daisy’s love. Even when it seemed as though everything was working against him and that he would never regain his lost love, Gatsby kept going, knowing that the strength of his hope would see him through. His childlike determination, while ultimately his downfall, was what made Gatsby truly “great.”

Works Cited

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2004. Print.

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