Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Protagonist in the Great Gatsby

The Protagonist in the Great Gatsby

Author: Ashmita Saha

The central character of the classic novel The Great Gatsby is James Gatz. Early in his career he converts his name to Jay Gatsby in order to live out his 'Platonic conception of himself.' Jay Gatsby is a romantic who dreams of making it big in the real world by earning a lot of money. To live this achieve this ambition he struggles variously as a salesman, a sailor and an army man, among other things. Finally he does succeed in earning a good amount of money. With this money he sets out to win back his long lost love-Daisy from her husband and child.

Character Traits

  • Gatsby hides his real self behind a facade of lies. He lies about his history to all his acquaintances. Even his close friend Nick and his girlfriend Daisy are kept guessing at his background.
  • He invites a lot of unknown people to his grand parties, is a perfect host to all of them. But he befriends nobody. Even his tenant, Klipspringer is no friend of his and chooses to miss Gatsby's funeral.

  • Gatsby loves showing off his money. He throws lavish parties, lives in a gigantic mansion and orders a fresh exclusive wardrobe each season.

  • Gatsby is quite noble in certain aspects. He decides to stand up for Daisy and say that he hit Myrtle in the fatal car accident, when it was actually Daisy who was driving. In another incident, Gatsby gifts a brand new gown to one of his guests when she accidentally tears her own gown during one of his parties. These small incidents say a lot about Gatsby's nature. He is essentially kind and cannot do any willful harm to people.

  • Gatsby uses the facade of a fictitious past as a shield against his vulnerability. When this facade is expose by Tom, Gatsby breaks down 'like glass'.

Love and Ideology

Gatsby loves Daisy because she symbolizes for him a fulfillment of all that Gatsby had set out to achieve. About Daisy, Gatsby was 'overwhelmingly aware of the youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves.' Acquiring Daisy was Gatsby's last desire. And with this achievement, Gatsby would have lost his purpose to go on living.

Daisy on the other hand represents the superficiality of Gatsby's desires. Daisy is as superficial as the opulence that Gatsby aspires for. For example, Daisy says this on looking at Gatsby's clothes: “They're such beautiful shirts. It makes me sad because I've never seen such – such beautiful shirts before.”

Bleak End

When Gatsby is unable to get Daisy, he seems to have failed in his purpose of life. He seems to have 'paid a high price for living too long with a single dream.' He dies a lonely man, minus the dignity he deserved.

To read a complete review of the book ">click here.

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About the Author

Ashmita Saha is a regular reviewer of popular literary books. Her reviews feature on



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