The Great Gatsby is known as a classic novel; I wonder how this is the title and character (Jay Gatsby) do not appear to match up. Gatsby is not great, despite everyone’s apparent admiration for him.
The narrator, Nick, states at the end of the book, “When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart. Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction-- Gatsby who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn.” This quote implies that everyone Nick met over the year was essentially a terrible human being. First of all, these people (Daisy, Tom, Myrtle, and George) were just people, and people make mistakes. Tom made the mistake of cheating on Daisy with Myrtle, who made the mistake of cheating on George; Daisy made the mistake of cheating on Tom with Gatsby , and George made the mistake of murder and suicide. Though I do not agree with any of their actions, they don’t strike me as purely evil or terrible people, as Nick thought of them. Poor George was obviously mentally ill, driven mad by the death of his wife; he shot Gatsby and himself, which is horrible, but this does not make him a terrible person. And while cheating is wrong and there is no reason for it to happen, people do make mistakes and Nick should see that.
Secondly, Nick then says that Gatsby is an “exception to his reaction”. This truly strikes me as baffling because Gatsby is just as “bad” as the others whom Nick felt such scorn for, if not worse. Gatsby was a con artist who scammed people out of their money and found a way to get alcohol to alcoholics during prohibition. Not only that, but he didn’t even work to get all the money and luxuries he had, he collected it from all the businesses he owned. He was simply a reckless teenager who ran away from home. Is this why Nick had “an unaffected scorn” for Gatsby? Because of his past? Even if that were the case, I don’t understand. His past was not horrible. He just made poor decisions, just as Tom, Daisy, George, and Myrtle did.
Supposedly, Nick loves Gatsby for “following his dream”. I find several flaws with this opinion. Firstly, Gatsby was about 18 or 19 years old when he came up with his “dream”, and the fact that he actually carried it out just shows how immature he truly is. Add in the fact that his “dream” was one he had when he was so young: having a big mansion with lots of money and throwing fancy parties. Second, achieving this “dream” of his required him to do many despicable things (such as creating a chain of pharmaceutical companies that would prescribe alcohol to desperate alcoholics). How is that really achieving your dream? I don’t think it’s an amazing thing that he reached his goals by cheating and lying.
Don’t get me wrong, I know a lot of people agree with Nick, thus why the book is considered a classic work of literature. I just don’t understand how people don’t see past Gatsby’s “amazing smile”. Truly, their hero of a character is not as he seems.