Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and the Tragic Hero
Aristotle invented a list of criteria in an attempt to determine the exact definition of a tragic hero. The list states the following – the tragic hero must cause his own down fall; the tragic hero’s fate is undeserved; the tragic hero’s punishment exceeds his crime; the tragic hero must be a great and noble person according to the standards of the current society. In Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby can be defined as a tragic hero who possesses all of the aforementioned traits.
Jay Gatsby’s main desire in life is to become a member of high society, respected more than anyone else. Gatsby has taken steps to ensure that this desire becomes a reality. He has accumulated wealth, power, and influence, all in an attempt to create the sparkling image of a successful man. Although Gatsby’s friend Nick is “inclined to reserve all judgements” (1), Gatsby is a strong, unselfish idealist. Gatsby is a romantic dreamer who wishes to fulfill his ideal by gaining wealth in hopes of impressing and eventually winning the heart of the mat…
…his vision, until his death. Daisy indirectly causes Gatsby’s death, making her more than ever, unworthy of Gatsby’s affections. Ironically, Gatsby lived for Daisy and up to his death, believed and had faith in her and his vision.
Dillon, Andrew. “The Great Gatsby: The Vitality of Illusion.” The Arizona Quarterly 44 Spr. 1988: 49-61.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992.
Irwin, John T. “Compensating Visions: The Great Gatsby.” Southwest Review 77 Autumn 1992: 536-545.