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Characters Of The Great Gatsby English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1089 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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According to many critics, The Great Gatsby is known as a great American novel. It contains a great deal of historical information, specifically for the 1920’s era. In the novel, Scott Fitzgerald created many similarities between himself and both Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway. Jay Gatsby, who was the main character, was a character that represented who Fitzgerald truly was in life. Nick Carraway was the narrator in the story, and expressed his opinion on nearly every event in the novel. Daisy Buchanan was also a major character in the novel. Her actions throughout the novel prove she was a shallow and very materialistic person who always chose money over love. This is evident when she chooses Tom, who was a wealthy man, over Gatsby, who was poor at the time. Therefore, if The Great Gatsby is a great American novel, then perhaps there is a great deal of historical content of the 1920’s, biographical content, and in-depth character details, such as the similarities between the author Scott Fitzgerald and both Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby.

The Great Gatsby was filled with a great deal of HISTORICAL CONTENT

Along with the historical content in the novel there was a great deal of biographical features in regards to Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald’s characters all had a deeper meaning to their names; they weren’t just randomly picked and put on a page. An example of this was Jordan Baker. Jordan’s name represents the Jordan River located in Middle Eastern country Jordan. According to, It is known for not being a very navigable (The Columbia Encyclopedia), similar to Jordan in the novel, who was an absolutely horrible driver and therefore, unable to navigate her vehicle correctly. In addition to giving his characters’ names that had deeper meanings, he also created characters that represented who he wanted to be in life and who he actually was. The person that he wanted to be was represented in Nick Carraway, the honest, good friend of Gatsby. Likewise, Jay Gatsby represented who Fitzgerald was in real life. Although Fitzgerald tried very hard in his life to be like his character Carraway, he made mistakes and did some things he wasn’t too proud of, just like the things Gatsby did in the novel. Fitzgerald also attended Oxford University for his collegiate years, similar to that of Jay Gatsby in the novel. This played a huge role in his views during the novel, especially evident in Nick Carraway’s opinion of certain situations. For example, when Nick attends the party with Myrtle and Tom at the apartment in New York, he is absolutely appalled and outraged by the events that occurred there. This shows the readers that Nick felt the way he did because he was raised differently than both Tom and Myrtle. This also show’s Fitzgerald’s view on the events by the way he portrayed Nick’s reaction. These are only some of the ways that Fitzgerald added his personal life into his novel.

One major character in the novel was Jay Gatsby, also known as James Gatz. According to Sparknotes, Gatsby was “a young man, around thirty years old, who rose from an impoverished childhood in rural North Dakota to become fabulously wealthy”. Throughout the novel, Gatsby is known as a good person at heart, which was mainly said by Nick Carraway, according to Scott Fitzgerald in his novel, The Great Gatsby. His good heart was shown when he would do anything for love. This love in the novel was for Daisy Buchanan, the wife of Tom Buchanan. Gatsby proved that for Daisy, anything was possible, which got him into a great deal of trouble a lot of times, especially towards the end of the novel. Gatsby even changed his name from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby to impress her or make the lie he told her about him being wealthy more concrete. Once he met Daisy, he realized he wanted to be wealthy and have Daisy for himself. The name James Gatz represented the poor way he was raised in North Dakota. The poor way he was raised was with very little money, unlike that of Daisy. Gatsby also represented who Fitzgerald truly was as a person. Both men tried their best to be good people, but failed more times than not. Gatsby’s name also had a deeper meaning, like majority of the characters in the novel. Gatsby greatly resembles the word beget, which, according [to dictionary.com?] means “to cause; produce as an effect”. In the novel, Gatsby believed that money beget power, and therefore control over any scenario. He wanted Daisy, so he believed that when he became rich, the fact that she was married and had a child would all disappear and they could be together. This unfortunately for Gatsby, didn’t happen. Gatsby’s name also has another meaning to it. According to [insert website thing]his name is slang word for pistol, or “gat”. It’s ironic that Fitzgerald named Gatsby what he did, because a pistol was the very thing that ended Jay Gatsby’s life.

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Another major character in the novel was the narrator, Nick Carraway. Nick shared his personal opinion in many events that he narrated in the novel. He was said to possess the Cardinal value, or virtue of justice, otherwise known as honesty, which no other character throughout the novel possessed. Because of his honesty, many characters, such as Jordan Baker and Jay Gatsby, confided in him with their secrets. For example, when Myrtle Wilson was hit by a car, it was Jay Gatsby that told Nick that Daisy did it and not himself. No other character knew that Daisy was the one that hit Myrtle, because in the end, George Wilson shoots Gatsby because he blames Gatsby for his wife’s death. This is what made Nick such a suitable narrator for the novel; it was his truthfulness, regardless of the situation, that made the story what it was. Nick’s ethics also contributed largely to what his personality was. Nick did the right thing, even when the right thing wasn’t clear or when no one was looking. He also didn’t judge people, like several other characters in the novel did; he acted as though he was merely a reporter reporting a scene, and nothing more. Nick also represents a part of Fitzgerald; the part being who Fitzgerald wished he could be. Fitzgerald wished he could be as calm, honest and nonjudgmental as Nick. This obviously wasn’t true all the time, because Gatsby, who Fitzgerald truly was, was nothing like Nick. They were more or less opposites.


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