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Character Analysis of Jay Gatsby

Jay Gatsby, the focal point of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, started out as a poor boy helplessly in love with a rich girl. He then left to serve for his country in the war, leaving Daisy his love, behind. After returning from the war, Jay Gatsby, both generous and mysterious devoted his life to win back his lost love Daisy Buchanan.

Gatsby is generous by throwing parties, buying things for others, and offering help for a friend in need. Gatsby’s parties are major gala events open to everyone. A typical Gatsby party usually consists of a few hundred guests, plentiful food and drinks, and live music with a huge tent for everyone to dance under. A good time is had by all at Gatsby’s expense. During one of these parties, a woman tore her dress on a chair. Gatsby then proceeded to obtain her name and address. About a week later the woman received a new evening gown valued at $265, compliments of Jay Gatsby.

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The woman was one of the many guests who were welcomed and didn’t need a formal invitation. This shows his generosity because he didn’t even know who she was but still felt compelled to replace her dress. It appeared to Gatsby that Nick was in need of a job and some extra money, so he offered Nick a job working for him in his business. Even though Nick declined the offer this was still a significant act of friendship and trust on Gatsby’s behalf. In offering a friend this job he was risking his own security because his business isn’t completely legal. He is not only generous with his money but also considerate of the needs of his friends. Jay Gatsby is mysterious in all aspects of his life.

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To maintain his image he has worked so hard to obtain, Gatsby lies to Nick by telling him that he inherited his fortune by being, “the son of some wealthy people in the mid-west,” who are now, “all dead”(69). People know so little about him that he feels it is necessary to lie to gain respect and maintain his classy image. He is so insecure about his own life that he feels he needs to falsify reality to gain the respect of others. Gatsby is worried about Nick getting, “the wrong idea of [him] from all those stories [he’s] heard”(69).

The consequences of his lies are catching up to him. He can’t have an honest relationship because nobody really knows who he is. Only Daisy and Gatsby himself know the real truth about his past, but even Daisy doesn’t know the full truth about his current life and business practices. Nobody except Gatsby’s business partners knows that his drug stores are only a front for his illegal bootlegging business which made him his real fortune. Gatsby has no choice but to lie or to go to jail along with his partners. This would definitely change his life… and not the way he would like. Gatsby uses all of this mystery to promote and protect himself but it keeps him from the one thing he truly wants, an honest relationship with the woman he loves.

Even after five years, Daisy is still the love of Gatsby’s life and he will do anything to be with her again. Gatsby changes his whole lifestyle so that Daisy will be impressed with how successful he has become. Before he left to serve his country in the war he was very poor. When he returned, the only clothing he owned was the uniform he wore. A wealthy benefactor, Meyer Wolfshiem, took Gatsby under his wing and made him what he is today by starting him out in the bootlegging business. Through this, he built up his fortune with the hopes that it would help win over Daisy. After five years of being apart and desperate to see her, Gatsby arranges a surprise meeting at Nick’s house. He talked to Nick and had him invite Daisy over for tea, during which Gatsby just “shows up.” After a while of being very nervous and not hardly speaking to each other, Nick breaks the ice between them and shortly after, they all go over to Gatsby’s house.

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There he gives them a tour of his mansion. This positive reaction from the meeting sparks new hope and courage in Gatsby. This newfound bravery encouraged him to confront Daisy. He wanted her to tell Tom, her husband, that she never loved him and that she always loved Gatsby. Much to his surprise, Daisy says, “I did love him once – but I loved you, too” (140). Even though Daisy married Tom, she had always loved Gatsby. After the war was over, her marriage to Tom was all that was keeping Gatsby from making advances toward Daisy. After all this time, Daisy and Gatsby find that they still love each other, whether or not they can be together.

Jay Gatsby, a generous man whose life was shrouded in mystery, devoted his life to winning back a love which in reality, he never lost. Even though Daisy loved him, the fact that she was married was the only thing keeping them apart. It turns out that he didn’t need to become rich and have a big house for Daisy to love him. She had loved him even before the war when he was poor and when he was really himself.

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Character Analysis of Jay Gatsby. (2021, Feb 28). Retrieved November 29, 2022, from