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Jay Gatsby, too foolish to be a hero

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Jay Gatsby is too foolish and ridiculous a figure to be seen as a great hero. I completely agree with this statement, whilst Gatsby’s refreshing idealistic attitude may by considered noble and heroic at the start of the play as the play progresses towards the end we see Gatsby’s heroic romanticism dissolve into obsession. The oxford dictionary definition is someone who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. This can be seen in Gatsby as “five years of unwavering devotion” But this devotion become ridiculous as we see Gatsby at the end of the novel “concealing his incorruptible dream”. This shows that even nick now knows that Gatsby’s idea of a relationship with Daisy is nothing but a dream now. Interestingly enough the original definition of hero came from Greek mythology those who were demigods. This agrees with Gatsby’s foolish perception of himself or as nick puts it, “The truth was that Jay Gatsby of west egg, long island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of god.” This quote shows that from early on Gatsby believed he was better or more superior than everyone else, something that would not normally linked with a “great hero”. Personally I believe that a hero would be a selfless person but throughout the novel, Gatsby uses his wealth and “friends” merely as pawns to achieve his own ridiculous ends. Meaning he really just uses them for his own ends which would not be considered very heroic. Some would say that Gatsby is the hero of the book and that all is actions are done out of love some would even go as far as to say that Nick believes this to and he likes Gatsby.

“You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.” Yet it’s hard to imagine why, if it is love driving Gatsby why it takes so long after acquiring his money for Gatsby to meet daisy again. Also we see Gatsby’s lack of heroism when they finally confront Tom, As Gatsby insists on daisy to say that she never loved Tom in fact we see a very un-heroic display of Gatsby’s ego,” she never loved you, do you hear?” “She only married you because I was poor and she was tired of waiting for me. It was a terrible mistake but in her heart she never really loved anyone except me!” This also shows Gatsby’s foolish emphasis on wealth rather than love being the main factor of not marrying daisy earlier. Another thing that shows Gatsby’s lack of heroism is the way in which he falls easily into the crime underbelly of 1920’s America. What is essential to see is that Gatsby acquired the majority of his wealth from crime. This isn’t Robin Hood style “steal from the rich to give to the poor” crime, it is greed fuelled crime that Gatsby partakes in, to fill his insecure need to for wealth and status. This is why it is so easy to see Gatsby as a ridiculous character rather than the hero. A true American hero of the time could have been Charles Lindbergh who was the first person to fly solo over the Atlantic Ocean but what truly classed him as heroic is the way he maintained his modesty throughout.

Even though he was regarded as a national hero he declined numerous endorsements offers completely refusing to sell out. This displays a certain noble and heroic characteristic that Gatsby tried and failed to achieve as he sold out to both Dan Cody and to Meyer Wolfshiem for money. Rather than respect for Gatsby it is easier to feel sympathy for him as he is truly lost in a dream of his own on of which will never be fulfilled which is why it is easy for nick to compare Gatsby’s dream to that of the American dream. It is driven by hope and good intentions but in the end it falls very far from the mark. It is saddening to see this hope remain even after daisy rejects Gatsby and goes with tom instead. Gatsby spends most of his life trying to “win” daisy yet it is this blinkered view of reality and his own foolishness that leads to Gatsby’s death as rather than leaving after Myrtle’s death he stays because of his ridiculous and unwavering certainty that daisy will come back to him. Although the question indicates a “great” hero it is hard to see Gatsby as any kind of hero especially not a great one. Many heroes of the 1920’s would not be considered to be great but would still be considered heroic because of their actions.

People such as Lucy burns who was part of the suffragette movement. Lucy did commit minor crimes and was sent to jail six times but even though this would be considered to be negative she did it for a good cause one that she believed in. This can be linked to Gatsby’s believe in his and daisy’s love but where as Lucy did it for thee good of others, Gatsby did it for what could be considered to be selfish reasons. This is why he fails to match up to the status of hero. In conclusion in I think that Gatsby’s character has the potential to be considered a great hero as we are built up with a very noble and mysterious picture of Gatsby from Nick’s description at the start but as we meet Gatsby and see his actions towards the end he is reduced in my eyes to a foolish and childish character. What is important to remember is that what we hear about Gatsby is all told from Nick’s point of view and we know that Nick likes Gatsby so we have to think about how biased the descriptions could be.

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