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Greatness in The Great Gatsby Essay


The Great Gatsby

In discussions of great characters throughout literature, a controversial issue is whether Jay Gatsby deserves to be called great. Human greatness can be defined as an extraordinary person who reveals the limits of human potential. I believe greatness encompasses these qualities: consistent honesty, unconditional kindness and friendliness, and individualism. While it can be argued that Gatsbys greatness stems from his wealth and extravagant lifestyle, I contend that Jay Gatsby is not great. In sum, the issue is whether or not he possesses qualities that would categorize him along side other great literary figures. My own view is that Jay Gatsby should not be considered great.

Honesty should be a key component of a great character. In The Great Gatsby, the main character Jay Gatsby is not honest at all. At one point in the story, Nick is riding in the car with Gatsby and Gatsby is telling Nick about his past. He tells him that he is from the middle-west and Germany which in the end of the story we learn are just lies that he told. Also, Gatsby told Nick that he was in the war which we also learn is a just a lie to try to impress people.

Another important characteristic of a great person is kindness and friendliness towards everyone. Although Jay Gatsby is kind in the story by throwing parties for everyone to come to he is not necessarily friendly to everyone. At his party, almost everyone had never even met Gatsby before. If he was friendly he would have made sure he met everyone at his party. A great person is one that people like and get along with and if Jay Gatsby isnt friendly and kind there is no way that people can like him and get along with him.

Individualism is the opposite of conformity which is exactly what Gatsby does through out the novel. Everything that Gatsby does in the novel is to try to impress people. He cannot be great by being just like everyone else. He tells stories to try to impress people and he throws extravagant parties so that people will come to his house and like him. He never once in the novel acts like his true self. We dont even know who the true Jay Gatsby is because he is too busy conforming to what everyone else thinks is acceptable.

Greatness by definition is an extraordinary person who reveals the limits of human potential. Jay Gatsby is not honest, kind, friendly, or an individual. All of those characteristics are those of a great character and Gatsby possesses none of them. Even though the title of the novel is The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby should in no way be considered great.

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