The Great Gatsby
Doesn t it always seem as though rich and famous people, such as actors and actresses, are larger-than-life and virtually impossible to touch, almost as if they were a fantasy? In The Great Gatsby, set in two tremendously wealthy communities, East Egg and West Egg, F. Scott Fitzgerald portrays Jay Gatsby as a Romantic, larger-than-life, figure by setting him apart from the common person.
Fitzgerald sets Gatsby in a fantasy world that, based on illusion, is of his own making. Gatsby s possessions start to this illusion. He lives in an extremely lavish mansion. It is a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. (5) It models an extravagant castle with a European style. Indoors it has Marie
Antoinette music-rooms and restoration salons. (92) There is even a Merton College Library, paneled with imported carved English oak and thousands of volumes of books. (45) There is even a private beach on his property. He also has his own personal hydroplane. Gatsby also drives a highly imaginative, circus wagon , car that everybody had seen. It is a rich cream color with nickel and has a three-noted horn. (64) It has a monstrous length with
triumphant hat-boxes, supper-boxes, tool-boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of windshields and a green leather conservatory. (64)
Amidst Gatsby s possessions, he develops his personal self. His physical self appearance sets him apart form the other characters. His smile is the type that comes across four or five times in life. One of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it. (48) He has a collection of tailored shirts from England. They are described as shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel. He has shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange, with monograms of Indian blue. (93) Gatsby wears a unique gorgeous pink rag of a suit that sets him apart as a bright spot. (154) Gatsby s mannerisms are different too. He gives the strong impression that he picks his words with care. Gatsby is an elegant young roughneck whose elaborate formality of speech just misses being
absurd. (48) Gatsby also has a particularly distinct phrase which is old sport. Further, at his parties he stands apart from the other people. Unlike everyone else, he does not drink any alcohol. Also, there are no young ladies that lay their head on his shoulder and he doesn t dance. During his parties he either sits alone or stands on his balcony alone, apart from everyone else. Gatsby even creates himself a false personal history that is unlike anyone else s in order
to give him the appearance of having old money. He says that he is the son of a wealthy family in the Middle West, San Francisco, and he was educated at Oxford. Supposedly after his family had all died he lived like a young rajah in all the capitals of Europe collecting jewels, hunting big game, painting and doing things for himself. (66) During the war he was apparently a promoted major that every Allied government gave a decoration to. (66) However, the medal
he received seemed to be either fake or borrowed.
The fantasy world that Fitzgerald gives Jay Gatsby also concludes with parties that are practically like movie-like productions. These parties are so fantastic that they last from Friday nights to Monday mornings. His house and garden is decorated with thousands of colored lights, enough to make a Christmas tree of his enormous garden. (39) Buffet tables are garnished with glistening hors-d oeuvre, spiced baked hams crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold. (40) He has famous singers that entertain his guests whom are the most well known and richest people. There is an orchestra with oboes and trombones and saxophones and viols and cornets and piccolos and low and high drums. (40) People do not even have to be invited to come to his parties. Car loads of people arrive at his celebrations. Movie directors, actresses and many celebrities attend his extravaganzas. All these things make his parties well known by everyone.
Apart from the fantasy world of Jay Gatsby, Fitzgerald also invest his quest with a religious motif. The author portrays him as a worshipper of his holy love, Daisy Buchanan. Gatsby made a covenant reminiscent to Daisy of the Old Testament when he climbed to her and kissed her. The promise is that he will be with her again. He climbs the sidewalk blocks that form a ladder and mount to a secret place above the trees that can be connected to Jacob s Ladder to heaven and once there he could suck on the pap of life, gulp down the incomparable milk of wonder. (112) He devotes his life to trying to get Daisy back into his life by first becoming rich and then by getting her attention with his possessions and parties. He even builds his house directly across the bay and facing the Buchanan s house. Gatsby is also likened to a chivalric knight. His outrageous car may be paralleled to a great white horse of a knight. His quest for Daisy is identical to the quest of medieval knights who sought the Holy Grail. At night he stands out in front of his house with his arms stretched out toward Daisy s green dock light. (21) Comparable to a knight s vigil, Gatsby also stays at Daisy s window all night staring at the light trying to protect her from Tom and watching over her. Fitzgerald also likens him to other
romantic figures in history that were larger-than-life. One of these was Benjamin Franklin. Franklin was an exorbitant person who did many remarkable things during his life. He is a person in history that seems make-believe because he was so prestigious. Gatsby is also compared to Hoppalong Cassidy. Both Hoppalong and Gatsby were trying to improve their selves. Gatsby evens has a schedule and general resolves that he followed. Hoppalong is remembered to this day because he was a fantasy character like Gatsby.
Because of the portrayal of Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby he is seen as a larger-than-life Romantic figure.