Three characters in The Great Gatsby and the theme of obsession
Three characters in The Great Gatsby and the theme of obsession.
Deep within feelings of love, hope, determination and perseverance is a dark entity, a slow growing parasite that feeds off feelings of rejection, despair, failure-the feelings people keep hidden, suffocating inside. The entity is a shape shifter of sorts, transforming and rooting itself in the empty realities created by individuals. In its new form, obsession has embedded its roots into three specific characters of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby: Jay Gatsby, an overly hopeless romantic, Daisy Buchanan, a lady of incredibly high maintenance, greed and impossible standards, and George Wilson, a meager car mechanic with a broken marriage. The obsession shrouds the minds of these characters with a miasma of denial and false hope, which inevitably destroys something within them. The characters of this riveting novel are the driving force behind that one incredible, but tragic summer in the midst of the Roaring ’20s.
Jaded, Arrogant, Youthful. Jay Gatsby is-was, the epitome of the undying and passionate love that one human can offer another. But was what he was feeling really love? Obsession, in his case, plagued the true perception of love and dedication and transformed those feelings into a compulsive and unrealistic desire to possess Daisy Buchanan, Gatsby”s one, “true” love. Gatsby’s obsession drove him to illustrate an intricate fantasy world, with Daisy as the “high priestess”, and Gatsby as her suitor. Nick Carraway, Gatsby’s good friend, states,
“There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams-no through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion…No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart” .
Clearly, Gatsby must have looked reality in the eyes, blinked, and ignored it entirely. Readers are unsure whether or not Gatsby did have a reality check, or if he knew that his life’s goal was entirely beyond his reach. Gatsby has a history of his obsessions with Daisy including the complete file of Daisy’s life, composed of news articles and magazine clippings. Gatsby worked vigorously to acquire money to build his astonishing mansion and even more money to purchase beautiful silk shirts from England. In addition, his home happened to be sitting on the piece of land across from Daisy’s house-a perfect view of the green light at the end of her dock. Nick states, “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us” . The green light symbolizes his longing, his obsession, his want for Daisy. Sadly enough, his want for her transforms into a chain of mindless actions. First, he lets Daisy drive the car to “calm her nerves,” which results in the vicious, yet tragic death of Myrtle Wilson who is ironically the long-time mistress of Tom Buchanan, Daisy’s husband. Gatsby and Daisy both return home, and Gatsby, as usual, waits by her home to see whether or not she would escape with him into the night. George Wilson discovers the true owner of the yellow car that hit Myrtle, and heads straight to Gatsby’s house, gun in hand. As Gatsby lay in the pool, he was shot and killed by the vengeful George Wilson, who then proceeded to commit suicide. Jay Gatsby’s dead body sunk deep into the pool, into Summer’s waning hands. His clear obsession of Daisy and the “month of love” they had together ultimately aided to his unfortunate downfall-his sacrifice. To Nick’s surprise, Gatsby states, “Can’t repeat the past?…Why of course you can”. Gatsby’s weary heart would forever drift through the faint reminisces of the past, where Daisy once believed in true love, when true love still existed in their young hearts.
The ravenous roots of obsession implanted itself into the mind of Daisy Buchanan as well. Daisy was a well-known and affluent lady of East Egg who did not carry the world on her shoulders, but in her wallet. Gatsby mentions that, “Her voice is full of money” . Daisy was obsessed with the toys of the rich, what made the world go “round; the green made her heart leap. Though Daisy might seem like the kind of girl you could take home to your parents, she was nothing of the sort. She was the queen of manipulation. Daisy was obsessed with the notion of another person exuding his/her love for her. She loved attention-whether it was positive or negative. In addition to her air-headedness, she was utterly confused about what and whom she wanted. She even says, “What”ll we do with ourselves this afternoon? Cried Daisy, and the day after that, and the next thirty years”. The reuniting of her and Gatsby with his love, and her powerful urge to put up with a very wealthy man fought to the death in her mind. Even her marriage with Tom Buchanan appeared to be framed because all they seemed to enjoy was their incredible sum of money. Nick makes an intelligent remark about them, “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy-they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together”.
It was true; Daisy could not leave Tom or ever love Gatsby because her sick obsession with money had already consumed her entirely. Love was never a factor in any of Daisy’s relationships, and she would never let something as petty as love get in the way of her money. As Daisy drove home with Gatsby beside her that hot day, she ran over Myrtle Wilson, the woman she knew to be Tom’s mistress. With the minor distraction out of her life and Tom’s, she finally realized that she could not leave Tom or the money. Daisy and Tom quickly leave the town for a long while, right after the three deaths. Daisy shrunk back into her obsessive desire for money, erased the notion of true love from her head, and continued to breathe as if that summer had not existed at all.
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Burning and thriving beneath the vengeful eyes of George Wilson are the destructive roots of Obsession. Wilson is completely infatuated with Myrtle, a sensuous and sexual woman, one with vitality and life. Wilson nearly idolizes her and sometimes cannot even believe he is married to such a vivacious woman for he was the exact opposite. Sadly, his stupidity and impulsiveness lead to his demise. Tom, Myrtle’s lover, even says, “He’s so dumb he doesn’t know he’s alive”. Wilson is desperate to keep Myrtle-he even goes through the length to keep her locked up in her upstairs bedroom, like a caged bird. After discovering her affair, he decides to move west out of sheer impulsiveness. As Tom stops by to fill the car with gas, Wilson mentions his plan to him. Wilson claims, “I want to get away. My wife and I want to go West…She’s been talking about it for ten years.
And now she’s going whether she wants to or not. I’m going to get her away”. First Wilson says he wants to get away, and as he is revealing his plans to Tom, he then says he is going to get her away. His attempt to keep a leash on Myrtle by moving West was his last chance, but unfortunately it did not end that way. When Myrtle lay dead on a table in the garage, Wilson’s mind becomes ravaged by confused thoughts of revenge and grief. He had lost the one thing that made Wilson feel like he had a place in the world, and his longing finally ended with Myrtle’s last breath. Without her, he had nothing to lose. He became a monster who wanted to take away the most important thing to Gatsby: his life. The death of Myrtle signified the death of his own pride, and he longed to avenge her. Gunshots were fired into the once hopeful body of Gatsby, and Wilson’s body accepted the bullets as well. Their obsession of the two women who were in love with Tom had brought death upon them. There, in the dwindling days of summer, lay the two most hopeful dreamers of this story, the two men whose dreams were carried off into the sunset.
The Great Gatsby is a truly heartbreaking story. The unsettled spirit of obsession lurks about the pages, possessing the poor bodies of three such unique characters. Jay Gatsby’s life and dreams were both pierced by those vicious bullets. The happiness and love that used to reside within Daisy had left her long ago with the departure of Gatsby to the war. She was empty, with only the flowers of obsession and greed blooming within her. Wilson’s soul, or what was left of it, was left open and exposed. It was so easy for such happy feelings of love and devotion to evolve into something so deadly and malicious. No happy endings, no tugs on the heartstrings or tears of joy-what remained was the transcending and deviant plant of Obsession, casting its shadow upon their world.
I don't think it's his love for Daisy exactly. Fitzgerald was a bit of a romantic, and love in and of itself rarely seems like a culprit in his works.
Gatsby's downfall seems to be a result of two related traits--his inability to let the past be the past, and his inability to see through and beyond illusions--especially illusions of his own creation. Gatsby had crafted his own persona and his own love for Daisy. Fitzgerald writes: "There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams--not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion."
Later, Gatsby is distressed because Daisy won't disavow the past. Gatsby believes his life with Daisy should pick up where it had left off. He fails to understand or even acknowledge the importance of Daisy's experiences during their time apart. Nick reminds Gatsby that the past can't be repeated...but Gatsby doesn't buy it. "'Can't repeat the past? he cried increduously. 'Why of course you can!'"
Nick notes that Gatsby talked a lot about the past and that it seemed like "he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself, perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy."
It's Gatsby's illusions, I think--of time, people, and even the nature of love--that are his real problems. The interior rules he has created do not match reality, and he's ultimately doomed by that.
Gatsby's greatest flaw was rooted in his belief that if he 'sold' his soul to 'Materialistic Wealth' he would be able to alter his very being in order to 'Be' what was acceptable. Gatsby believed the life he was born into was not worth much because it lacked respect. Fitzgerald makes a strong commentary here in Gatsby's character suggesting that a man's respect and worth was not based upon his deeds but by how much money he had. The reader cannot help but feel that there was a time where Gatsby was an honorable man. However his love for Daisy, a woman who was the product of materialistic wealth would compel him to achieve materialistic wealth, regardless of what it would do to his soul. Gatsby's greatest flaw is his inability to see that the wealth of a man can never be defined in dollars and cents. Unfortunately, for Gatsby he doesn't live to understand that flaw.. However his one true friend Nick Carraway and the father he denied publically for the sake of wealth and status understood it all along. It really is a tragic story....
Gatsby's fatal flaw was his inability to distinguish between romantic illusion and reality. He lived for his dreams from the time he was a poor farm boy in North Dakota until he was shot to death in his pool in West Egg. When he was a boy, Jimmy Gatz longed for beauty and glamour, for an exciting life of infinite possibilities. He wanted not only to succeed in material terms (for money was always just a means to the end), but also to create a new version of himself that fit his dreams. "Jay Gatsby" existed in his mind and heart long before he met Dan Cody and assumed the name.
Meeting Daisy derailed his initial dream, as she became his dream incarnate, and after that, he was lost in that illusion. Never could he accept Daisy for what she was, even when he saw her again in Nick's cottage and she "tumbled short of his dreams." Nick said that this diminishing of Daisy in Gatsby's eyes was not her fault, but was the result of "the colossal vitality of his illusion."
I have to disagree with Post #3. There was no guilt in Gatsby, and his parties served only one purpose--to lure Daisy into his presence. Once he and Daisy had reunited, the parties stopped abruptly, and Gatsby kept the outside world at bay, so that his and Daisy's privacy would not be disturbed.
The ideas in Post #5 that Gatsby was a creation of his times and a reflection of Fitzgerald himself are, I believe, quite accurate. Jimmy Gatz's life, in the beginning, is the Horatio Alger story, but it becomes corrupted along the way. Unlike Alger's heroes, Jimmy Gatz even goes the wrong direction literally; he goes east, not west. Similarly, Fitzgerald viewed the Twenties as exemplifying the corruption of the original American Dream itself.
There is a tremendous amount of FSF in both Gatsby and Nick Carraway. Critics have noted Fitzgerald's "divided" nature. Like Gatsby, Fitzgerald rejected the circumstances of his own birth and Midwestern youth and longed for a larger, glamorous, romantic life. Like Nick, he believed in the rightness of moral behavior, condemning the excesses in his own behavior even as they destroyed him. Fitzgerald was his own worst enemy and his own worst critic.
Gosh, I just LOVE this question! It is so incredibly cool to read all of the responses and know that each and every one, although totally different, is totally "right" and evidenced by the text! : ) But I digress . . .
Gatsby's major flaw is his complete and utter obsession with Daisy Buchanan. In my opinion, every single bad thing that happens in this novel would not have happened if Gatsby didn't become obsessed. First, Gatsby turned bad: the bootlegger. Upon meeting Daisy and fighting in the war, Gatsby made up his mind to earn that money in order to gain Daisy's affections. There was only one way a poor boy could make that money, so Gatsby turned to a life of crime (so to speak). Second, Gatsby the strange conversationalist. Gatsby never seems to fit his skin: always fidgeting and always backpedaling. Why is this? Because Gatsby changed who he was (form poor boy to dandy) in order to gain his obsession: Daisy. Even in the case of meeting Nick at his little home, Gatsby's curtness and strange decisions all center around that one obsession. Third, Gatsby the host of reckless parties. Whether you're discussing moral or physical harm, Gatsby's parties were the source of it all! People were injured at them or returning from them. People were doing all sorts of reckless and sinful types of things at them. Gatsby's parties: a perfect example of the dangers of the Roaring Twenties (and why they all came crashing down). The reason behind these parties? Gatsby's obsession with Daisy. Fourth, Myrtle's death. Myrtle runs to the yellow car thinking Tom was driving. Why was Tom driving when they first went to town? Because Daisy decided to drive in the coupe with Gatsby (fueling his obsession and diminishing his anger in regards to Tom wanting to drive his car) as she says, "[Tom,]You take Nick and Jordan. [Gatsby and I will] follow you in the coupe." Although Gatsby can't control Myrtle's actions, of course, Gatsby did think it would steady Daisy to drive (despite how unfit she was to do so). Fifth, Gatsby's own death happened because of his obsession in that Daisy was driving the car. So as not to upset Daisy (or implicate her in any way), Gatsby takes the blame. Wilson finds out what car and kills Gatsby.
The only negative things that don't relate to this obsession are Tom's immorality in regards to having a mistress and Wilson's suicide. And, of course, I can't blame the entire reckless Roaring Twenties on Gatsby either. Ha!
The irony here is that F. Scott Fitzgerald was flawed with obsession as well, . . . a complete and utter obsession with Zelda Sayre as evidenced by the dedication of this fabulous novel: "Once Again to Zelda."
The Great Gatsby: Lost Love
The novel, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a tragic love story
of lost love. Gatsby, the main character, based his love for Daisy on a
young girl he met before going off to war. In their time apart, Gatsby
strived to build the American dream while Daisy enjoyed the riches by those
who adored her. The character Daisy is described by Fitzgerald throughout
the novel as flighty and shallow. It is their difference in character and
devotion that sets them apart. eventually realized Daisy could not
measure up to what he had envisioned as his perfect love.
As a young officer, Gatsby was impressed by what Daisy represented, old
money and a life full of luxuries. He fell deeply in love with the young
Daisy, and vowed to come back to her a wealthy man. While Gatsby went off
to the war Daisy continued in her artificial life. In Gatsby's case,
distance made his heart grow fonder. It was evident that Gatsby followed
Daisy's activities when he showed her the clippings on their first meeting.
"Look at this," said Gatsby quickly. "Here is a lot of clippings -about
you."(90) He knew what he needed to do to get Daisy back, even if it meant
making his money by illegal means. Daisy grew tired of pining for her
officer and soon her love was bought by a new suitor, , with a
$30,000 pearl necklace. Money was what Daisy desired.
James Gatz, was a poor farm boy who saw his life as living in poverty. He
knew he wanted more and worked hard to improve his life. Daisy grew tired of
waiting for him in their early relationship because other rich officers
pursued her. When they met again she was impressed with his wealth. His
dream for a better life gave him a sense of purpose. Daisy's
were material comforts and luxuries. Daisy's empty existence and the people
she surrounded herself with was in contrast with Gatsby's dreams, which gave
meaning to his own identity. Nick shows this when he says to Gatsby,
"They're a rotten crowd," I shouted across the lawn. "Your worth the whole
damn bunch put together." (146)
Gatsby's obsession for Daisy blinded him of what her true character was.
Gatsby loved the Daisy of the past. Daisy was a very shallow and
materialistic person who was only attracted to the wealth of an individual
which made her life uncomplicated. When Daisy discovered how rich Gatsby
was, she was attracted to him. This is clear when Gatsby first shows her his
huge mansion and the contents within. In the scene which Gatsby shows her
his expensive shirts, she responds by saying, "Their such beautiful shirts
it makes me sad because I have never seen such beautiful shirts."(pg. 89).
When things start to get complicated after Myrtle's death, Daisy does not
stay with the man she says she loves but goes back to Tom who could keep her
safe and protect her from trouble. Daisy's flaws in her character are
realized by Gatsby as his life ends alone.
Gatsby's fantasy was played out in a scene near the end. The short lived
affair with Daisy was ended by the tragic car accident. Again, Gatsby is
devoted to Daisy by waiting outside her window trying to protect her. Nick
observes, "He was clutching at some last hope and I couldn't bare to shake
him free.". (141) He was left again by his true love, Daisy's real
intentions showing through in her choice in staying with the protectiveness
of Tom. In the end Gatsby accepted that Daisy would never leave Tom for a
bootlegger and a farmer's son. She had a reputation and a lifestyle to
"As I went over to say good-bye I saw that the expression of bewilderment
had come back to Gatsby's face, as though a faint doubt had occurred to him
of his present happiness. Almost five years! There must have been moments
even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams - not through her
own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion." (92)
Gatsby's expectations of the young eighteen year old girl fell short of what
he had dreamed. Their different social backgrounds and focus on reality
kept them from grasping their dream of true love. Gatsby's devotion was
admirable but in the end Daisy's abandonment was what killed him inside, not
the bullet from Wilson's gun.
The Truly Great Gatsby
Is his novel the Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald creates Gatsby as a character who becomes great. He begins life as just an ordinary, lower-class, citizen. But Gatsby has a dream of becoming wealthy. After meeting Daisy, he has a reason to strive to become prominent. Throughout his life, Gatsby gains the title of truly being great.
Even before Gatsby is introduced, he is hinted at being out of the ordinary. The first evidence of this is when Nick says, "Gatsby turned out all right at the end." (2) Nothing was known about Gatsby at the time and Nick is already saying Gatsby was okay. There's a air of mysteriousness surrounding Gatsby. Everyone knows of him, but no one knows who he really is or where he comes from. Even at our first glance of Gatsby, he's reaching out for something only he can see.
There were many stories flying about Gatsby but no one knew what to really believe. In on instance Jordan made the comment, "I think he killed a man." (49) Even when Gatsby confessed about his past he didn't always tell the truth. He told Nick he inherited great wealth, but in reality, Gatsby gained his wealth on his own. Even though Gatsby lied, the fact that he made himself what he was makes him even that much greater.
When Gatsby was still James Gatz, he had a dream of leaving his life on the farm behind and become part of the upper-class. Even Gatsby's father knew when he said, "If he'd lived, he'd of been a great man." (169) Little did his father know that Gatsby was already great. Gatsby didn't always do the right thing to gain his wealth but he was always good at heart.
His first real break in the outside world was when he met his best friend Dan Cody. Gatsby was seventeen at the time and had just left his life on the farm. Cody was a wealthy man of fifty and he showed Gatsby the ways of the world. It was said that Cody found Gatsby to be " ... quick and extravagantly ambitious." (101) He took Gatsby in and treated him almost as a son. Gatsby was to inherit some of Cody's wealth after his death but was stripped of his inheritance by Ella Kaye.
After Gatsby was introduced to Daisy, she was the only thing that mattered to him. It takes a great man to have that kind of love for one person. Even though Daisy didn't deserve Gatsby's love, he was loyal to her to the end. Daisy was both the main cause of Gatsby's greatness, and also the only cause of foolishness in his life. His absolute love and devotion for her is what destroyed him, even before his death.
Gatsby and Nick both served as officers in the war and he told Nick "Then the war came ... it was a great relief, and I tried very hard to die ... " (66) Gatsby knew he wasn't good enough for Daisy and death would've been an easy way out. However, Gatsby survived the war, and with honors as well. Even during war times Gatsby demonstrated his greatness in being a superb soldier. Upon his return to America, he concentrated on winning Daisy back.
Gatsby's life between the war and when he's introduced in the book is quite vague. It is known later that he at some point went into business with a man named Meyer Wolfsheim. Wolfsheim was a man with a shady past and possible connections with the Mafia. Gatsby, however, hides his connections quite well even if the stories do fly. Wolfsheim claims to have made Gatsby the man that he was.
Throughout the book Gatsby is a gracious host and yet a mysterious one. He is rarely seen at his extravagant parties but doesn't really seem to mind that he misses them. It is found out later that he only held the parties to see if Daisy would show. He always handles himself like a true gentleman. Even in awkward moments, such as his meetings with Daisy's husband Tom. There was one time when Gatsby lost his cool and that was when he was to see Daisy for the first time in five years. He suddenly became as giddy as a schoolboy. He had worked for so long to please Daisy and seeing her would be the moment of truth.
Gatsby liked to show off his wealth to his friends. He gives tours of his home to Daisy and Nick and he always has an extraordinary explanation for his possessions. And yet he handles his greatness with dignity. He's also proud of his flashy car but never knew it would be the cause of his downfall. he had few house guests but treated them quite fairly.
When Daisy came back into Gatsby's life it was like floating on air for him, at least in the beginning. She'd loved Gatsby but didn't have the patience to wait for him. She was content to have an affair with Gatsby but still be married to Tom. She didn't want to make a decision. She was forced to make one and her choice devastated Gatsby. He never actually admitted that he'd lost but deep down he knew. He expected Daisy to choose him and couldn't accept any other response. He'd worked too hard and too long to win.
Towards the end Gatsby wouldn't give up on Daisy. After the accident in which Daisy killed Mrs. Wilson, it was the end for her and Gatsby. And yet "He couldn't possibly leave Daisy until he knew what she was going to do. He was clutching at some last hope ... " (148) Daisy couldn't possibly face the fact that she might go to jail and she knew Gatsby would take her blame. Taking her blame would be the last great thing Gatsby would do for Daisy. "He felt married to her, that was all." (149)
Gatsby might have been able to avoid being killed by Mr. Wilson but he really didn't have any more reason to live. Daisy was back with Tom, he'd lost most of his so called friends who used to party at his house, and he really didn't have any real friends, except for maybe Nick. Nick saw the greatness in Gatsby. He even said to Gatsby, "They're a rotten crowd. You're worth the whole damn bunch put together." (154) That would be the last time he spoke to Gatsby.
It was sad after Gatsby's death that so few people came to mourn him. His father showed up after reading about his son's death in a newspaper. Nick was always there until the end, and a former guest of one of Gatsby's parties came. Gatsby was a great man who had touched few people, but in irreversible ways. He made Nick realize what wealth could do to a person. He had held Daisy's love throughout her marriage, even if she did abandon him in the end. And he was always a topic of discussion wherever he went.
Gatsby truly was a great man. He came from an ordinary background and built himself up to where he ended. He loved Daisy unconditionally and made a life for himself. It takes a great person to take what they have, and get to where they dream to be. He was loyal to the end, never straying from his dream once.