Is There Anything Tragic About Gatsby?
Jay Gatsby is the epitome of a tragic hero, with his life being based around a fatal error that inevitably leads to his downfall. Although Gatsby is seen as a man who follows a single, corrupt dream, the extent to which this is merely a reflection of 1920s society can be argued. The readers are lured into a false sense of tragedy, having the character magnified so much, that they genuinely believe in his tragedy. Therefore, whilst it can be said that the life and tale of Gatsby is tragic, the extent of this can be debated.
Perhaps what convinces readers that Gatsby is a tragic hero is his undoubting optimism and faith. His entire livelihood is based upon a single dream of encapsulating Daisy and having her be his. Gatsby’s remark to Nick when he states you can’t repeat the past is: ‘why of course you can!’ This response from Gatsby epitomises his tragic nature, and his believing entirely in the American dream. Gatsby’s determination to win Daisy back, against all the odds, is so strong and vivid that even the reader becomes involved in his desires. This makes the tragedy even more tragic, as the reader is fully engrossed in the goals of Gatsby and has hope alongside him.
The novel is written as a recollection of past events by the narrator, Nick Carraway. The impact of Fitzgerald’s use of a third person narration heightens the tragedy from the very beginning. The Title of the novel- ‘The Great Gatsby’- presents a sense of inflation of Gatsby’s character. To describe someone as ‘great’, their characteristics must have been extremely impactful on the narrator. Throughout the novel, Nick continues to inflate Gatsby’s worth, referring to him as ‘gorgeous’ and likens him to a seismograph, which, at that time, was the height of modern technology. In chapter eight, Nick shouts ‘you’re worth the whole damn bunch put together,’ referring to the ‘rotten crowd’ of old money, further stating the high esteem Gatsby is held in by Nick. This heightens the tragedy beca...