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Jay Gatsby as Representation of Magic in the Great Gatsby

Magicians are known for the tricks that they play on the eyes. What often seems like magic, turns out to be just a careful flick of the wrist. In the book The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzerald, the magician is compared to the character of Jay Gatsby. The magician motif is used among other tools to prove that appearance is not always reality. The higher class throws sophisticated and glamorous parties that include many interesting people. They have fun and show off their fortunes with the grand affairs. Jay Gatsby is described as a rich, powerful man, and mysterious man, but all his fortune is made for a simple cause, the love of the beautiful Daisy Fay Buchanan. He is compared to a magician because he gives an appearance of being in a higher class than he really belongs to. Gatsby strives to appear to be high class, but reality ends up hurting him hard in the end. Gatsby’s money was not earned legally or inherited as a fortune from his great uncle but was made through illegal schemes. Gatsby’s goal is to try to seem to be in a higher social class than the class where his birthright put him. He creates the illusion of higher stature. He does not care about money or any other material wealth. He cares about the love of a woman. Gatsby makes many illusions in hopes of showing his Daisy that he is in a class as high as hers and that they do belong together. What a magician does is deceive his audience. Jay Gatsby has to do that to make his audience believe that he belongs to a higher class than he was really born into.

The word “great” is often used to announce a magician. The title of the book is the introduction of the character of Jay Gatsby. He is a great magician that can create magic and fool all the spectators around him. Jay Gatsby throws wonderful parties to give the mirage of great wealth and high class. Only the most interesting people are invited. The thing is that he does not care for the people, but only for what they think of him. He does not show his own face but gives the impression of someone really lavish by the parties and the guests.

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At the beginning of the book, Gatsby is seen as a high-class, sophisticated man. As the story goes on, more details and lies of the great man are uncovered by the other characters in the book. It is discovered that Gatsby was not really an “Oxford-Man” because he went to Oxford University for only five months. The reason that he went to Oxford was not that he wanted to receive a grand education and improvement of the mind to accompany his high class and stature. Instead, he attended the school because the army gave him an opportunity for free education.

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Mysterious, like a magician, no one knows much about the host of the parties. Wild rumours spread about Gatsby because someone rarely comes along who has ever met the man. He is the great magician that is there looking over everyone and knowing who everyone is, but not making himself known to the public.

Like as if behind a cape or a cloud of smoke, Gatsby disappears like a magician from Nick’s sight one night. He stands there majestic on his high white balcony reaching for the stars, for the light. Staring at the stars and dark blue sky, like the coat of a great wizard, becoming lost in the great vastness of the sky, he vanishes. He is there one minute and gone the next.

Gatsby disappears again when Daisy comes to visit Nick, at Gatsby’s request. Like magic, he reappears at the door again a few seconds later at the entrance. In one swift movement, he was out of the house and then back at the front door again. As if a magician chained in a tank full of water, Gatsby gets himself out of the unfavourable circumstances with a quick move. In a second he is out onto the stage again when ready to confront his audience.

James Gatz was a simple boy that was fortunate enough to get into the graces of a rich man. When given the opportunity of taking his life to higher standards, James Gatz gave himself a new name, a new life, a new future. James Gatz became the man now known as Jay Gatsby. From his protégé, Dan Cody, he got himself some sort of education. From that point on Jay was no longer the penniless boy. He was so poor to the extent that he could not take off his army uniform. Jay did not have the money to afford any civilian clothes.

Gatsby had no choice but to become involved in some illegal business dealings to earn enough money to move up the ladder. When Tom gives away the secret of Gatsby’s business to Daisy, he gives away the glory of the “great” Gatsby. Gatsby kills his image when he starts his business of bootlegging. He brought himself to life like a conjurer who makes doves come out of nowhere. When the secret comes out, Gatsby loses all the standing that he has earned in the last five years.

Throughout the book, Jay Gatsby is compared to a magician. Every move that a magician makes is a form of deceit. He makes things appear and disappear. He can be there one minute and be gone the next. Jay Gatsby creates the illusion of high class when he is really in another. He spends over five years of his life making people think that he belongs to a higher class. Gatsby attempts to conceal the ways that he reaches success. He masks the sources of his money to make sure that the deception goes through. Jay Gatsby, like a magician, uses deception to make his dream come true. He appears to be a man of high class, but all it is- is an illusion.

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The harsh reality of illusion in The Great Gatsby The disparity between illusion and reality plays a very large part in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and one scene in particular, that in which narrator Nick Carraway leaves a soiree held by two acquaintances, Tom Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson (Fitzgerald 41-42), functions mainly to explore this issue. Offering a striking view of this disparity, the scene epitomizes Fitzgerald’s constant struggle to discern between the showy, glittery image of American society in the 1920s and the reality of the hollowness and insincerity which this image struggles to mask. Perhaps one of America’s best know illusionists, alcohol plays a large part in this scene, blurring the lines between illusion and reality for both the reader and the characters involved. Carraway in particular has clearly indulged past the point of sobriety, admitting only a few pages earlier to having “been drunk just twice in [his] life and [that] the second time was that afternoon”(33). The fact that this is presumably the first time during his narration…

F. Scott Fitzgeralds’ novel The Great Gatsby is set in a time when the American dream started to change, the 1920’s. The American dream was an idea that most Americans had and that immigrants followed. However, this dream did not last long, as money came to corrupt society. Peoples’ needs for material things, changed their priorities and values.

The American dream was an idea to work hard, support your family, and own land. To have these things gave people a feeling of self-worth and satisfaction. People wanted to own land because it gave them greater opportunities such as voting rights, and it helped them economically. Usually, in the family household, the husband would go to work and make the money, and the wife would stay home and take care of the children. Then the dream changed, as more people began to want money instead of good family life.

The new American dream was to have money and be rich. The dream changed because people saw others with money and they began to want what they had, they had to get rich, quickly. People didn’t see how most people with money didn’t have good values, and if they did see this they didn’t care. This is because they only saw the good things that came with being rich. Therefore people stopped caring if their money was hard-earned and honestly made, they just wanted to make a lot of money.

Jay Gatsby had this same idea of getting rich quickly. The reason Gatsby wanted to become rich is that he wanted to impress Daisy. Daisy was his former girlfriend, who broke his heart to marry a rich man. Gatsby wanted to get Daisy back, and he thought that becoming rich would make her fall in love with him again. Gatsby needed to get rich quickly, and after meeting Meyer Wolfshiem, Gatsby decided to go into business with Wolfshiem.

Gatsby became a bootlegger. “He and this Wolfshiem bought up a lot of Side-Street drug stores here and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter.” (141) This quote tells about how Gatsby made his money illegally. After Gatsby made his money, he tried to make Daisy love him but failed. Money eventually corrupted this dream when Daisy found out where his money came from.

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Tom and Daisy had money, but not the American dream. The reason one might say this is because of where Tom got his money. Tom’s money was old money, which means his money came from his family, and he never had to work for his money. Another reason one might say that Tom and Daisy didn’t have the American dream is because of the way they raised their child. She was rarely mentioned in the story. The first time she was mentioned, Daisy said, “How gorgeous! Let’s go back, Tom. Tomorrow.” Then she added irrelevantly, ” You ought to see the baby.” (14) Daisy makes her daughter seem like she is not a real person. Daisy is talking about going back to Chicago, then she starts talking about her baby like she is a material thing.

The second time Daisy’s baby is mentioned, Daisy says to her daughter, ” That’s because our mother wanted to show you off.” (123) This quote takes place when Nick, Jordan and Gatsby are at Tom and Daisy’s house. Daisy is showing off her daughter to Gatsby because she is planning to leave Tom. Daisy wants to see if her daughter likes Gatsby. In a way, money has corrupted Daisy’s daughter’s life because she will grow up being a material thing and will never know how to work hard for something she wants. This book has many examples of how money has corrupted the American dream. These days one doesn’t hear about the American dream, and if one does it is to become rich. People’s priorities and values have changed from having good family life to become rich.

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Jay Gatsby as Representation of Magic in the Great Gatsby. (2021, Feb 28). Retrieved January 28, 2023, from