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Gatsby’s Pursuit of Ideals

In Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, the protagonist, Jay Gatsby, is transformed from a poor working-class boy to a wealthy romantic, all due to his pursuit of ideals. The Ideals that Gatsby strives to achieve are the acquisition of wealth, re-defining his character in pursuit of perfection, and attaining his ideal romantic love.

His first Ideal is to escape the working class and attain a position in the upper class. When Gatsby was young he was nothing more than a salmon fisher and a clam digger; just so he could survive. The turning point in his life is when he meets Dan Cody, Who allows Gatsby to work for him. As Gatsby works with Cody he gets accustomed to the luxurious lifestyle and is taught to idealize wealth.

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The lifestyle is later ripped from him when Cody dies, even though Dan Cody’s will stated that Gatsby is to receive his fortunes, Gatsby never does because of a lawsuit against him. After the Great War, Gatsby Goes into illegal business; he works with a man who had fixed the world’s Tennis cup, and they owned a chain of pharmacies that sold grain alcohol over the counter at times when all alcohol was prohibited. Gatsby’s reasons his wealth is not solely due to this lifestyle that he is grown accustomed to, he also tries to impress his love Daisy. That is why he has the car he does and the sumptuous mansion that contains a library that is modelled after one in a university with thousands of new books. However, in order to impress his love, he needs something more than just lavish items.

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Another idea of Gatsby is the pursuit of perfection because he started to idealize characters who are perfect, in his eyes, and so he began to revolutionize his own character to achieve perfection in himself; in order to have Daisy. Not only is Gatsby trying to reach perfection but he is also trying to attain a place in the upper class. Even though Gatsby only when to Oxford for a mere five-month, he picked up the saying: “old sport” when he is referring to someone because he thinks it will help him to get into the upper class that he so desires to be in. It is not just the way Gatsby speaks he re-defines but the way he dresses and acts too. By refining his character the way that he has, he managed to evoke a sense of a “rare romantic readiness” that is attributed to him.

The last and most important of Gatsby’s ideals is Daisy herself, who Gatsby was seeing before the War. She said that she would wait but instead she married into the upper class. Gatsby devised a plan to get Daisy’s attention, he throws a colossal party every weekend and he asks all his guests if they know Daisy or her whereabouts. Gatsby gets lucky when he finds out that his friend, Nick, is also Daisy’s cousin, Nick sets up a meeting between the two.

This allows Gatsby to all his extravagant items to try to impress his love, and she is impressed and continues on having an affair. After numerous encounters, Gatsby finally asks Daisy to leave her husband and marry him instead. At this point in the novel, Gatsby finally realizes that: his car, his mansion and everything else that he did was not enough to persuade Daisy to leave her husband; because he is in the upper class and he is extravagantly wealthy. She rejected him because for her staying in the upper class is by far more important than love or even her own happiness.

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The author was developing Gatsby’s ideals, the acquisition of wealth, re-defining his character in pursuit of perfection, and attaining Daisy, his ideal romantic love, but he was also conveying a message: that our dreams and ideas should be realistic, and that one should always try to achieve those dreams and ideals. Since if one does not try one cannot succeed. Gatsby spent most of his life, after the war, trying to get daisy back and for her to marry him, he failed but had he not tried at all, he would not have had the meeting that he did.

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Gatsby’s Pursuit of Ideals. (2021, Feb 28). Retrieved December 1, 2022, from