Discuss how Nick perceives him throughout the novel, and what makes him ‘great’?
Fitzgerald perceives jay Gatz as ‘great’ in the sense that he has noble ambitions —to make something of himself including to rise as a successful businessman. Above all he aspires to recapture the transcendent love he feels for Daisy Buchanan. However, "great" is ironic in that the way Gatsby tries to accomplish his noble ends is by subverting the very society whose approval he desires. He is a bootlegger and deals in stolen securities, he hangs out with gangsters, and his pursuit of Daisy means taking a not-wholly-unhappily married woman from her loutish husband. Therefore the adjective ‘great’ is double edged- a paradox.
The title of the novel is ironic; the title character is neither “great” nor named Gatsby. He is a criminal whose real name is James Gatz, and the life he has created for himself is an illusion. By the same token, the title of the novel refers to the theatrical skill with which Gatsby makes this illusion seem real: the moniker “The Great Gatsby” suggests the sort of vaudeville billing that would have been given to an acrobat, an escape artist, or a magician.
Nick is particularly taken with Gatsby and considers him a great figure. He sees both the extraordinary quality of hope that Gatsby possesses and his idealistic dream of loving Daisy in a perfect world. It could be interpreted that Daisy could be a symbol for the American dream, given that Jay Gatsby desires her love, yet can’t seem to get It, but is willing to hold lavish Party’s in hope that one day, Daisy might turn up. Daisy represents the paragon of perfection—she has the aura of charm, wealth, sophistication, grace, and aristocracy that he longed for as a child in North Dakota and that first attracted him to her.
Though Nick recognizes Gatsby’s flaws the first time he meets him, he cannot help but admire Gatsby’s brilliant smile, his romantic idealization of Daisy, and his yearning for the future. The private Gatsby who stretches his arms out toward the green light on Daisy’s dock seems somehow more real than the vulgar, social Gatsby who wears a pink suit to his party and calls everyone “old sport.” Nick alone among the novel’s characters recognizes that Gatsby’s love for Daisy has less to do with Daisy’s inner qualities than with Gatsby’s own. That is, Gatsby makes Daisy his dream because his heart demands a dream, not because Daisy truly deserves the passion that Gatsby feels for her. Further, Gatsby impresses Nick with his power to make his dreams come true—as a child he dreamed of wealth and luxury, and he has attained them, alb...