Tragedy: Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby Essay

In the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare and the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the objective is to divulge the quintessence of humanity. Although the protagonists in both works of literature have drastically different journeys that lead to climactic endings, the use of plot is to demonstrate that the essence of mankind is ultimately a tragedy if great care is not taken. Both Hamlet and Jay Gatsby are unable to focus on the reality of the situation, and rather waste valuable time focusing on simply the appearance of things. However, Hamlet is a character completely consumed by despair and ultimately believes that life is futile. In contrast, Gatsby is a character who is rather obsessive of achieving the American Dream, and winning the love of Daisy, and is decisively far too anticipative.Hamlet and Gatsby are remarkably similar in the fact that they focus on what something appears to be, rather than the truth. Hamlet’s introduction reveals is that he is the melancholy Prince of Denmark and grieving son to the recently deceased King. His constant over analysis is the product of an explicitly contemplative mind and a difficult situation. Before the reveal that the death of his father is not an accident, Hamlet quips to his mother that he “know not seems” (Shakespeare 1.2.76), as in he does not understand what she means by seems. He elaborates further with “But I haven’t that within which passeth show; / These but the trappings and the suits of woe” (1.2.85-86). Now, he seems to tell his mother, in not so many words, that he does not blatantly show his emotions on his face but instead withdraws them inside. He is telling her that inside him is more grief than one could ever see on the surface, and that “his custo…

…against life’s never-ending anguishes. The existstential meaning of life is general falls victim to his questions constantly as he ponders:

To die, to sleep,

to sleep: perchance to dream: ay there’s the rub

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil

Must give us pause (3.1.65-69).

His use of “we” indicates that he not only applies this question to his own existence, but that of all of humanity. This is his question of the essence of life. It is only when he finally declares himself “This is I, / Hamlet the Dane!” (5.1.250-251) that he finally decides to form his own existence by taking the existential responsibility of avenging his father’s death.

Works Cited

The Great Gatsby. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1950. Print.Shakespeare, William, Marilyn Eisenstat, and Ken Roy. Hamlet. Toronto: Harcourt Canada, 2003. Print.

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