Love. Hate. Money. Beautiful women. Murder? The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a archetypal story following Jay Gatsby’s quest for success in life. James Gatz was born a poor farmer with nothing to his name. Through hard work, and illicit trade deals Gatsby has managed to make it. Gatsby is now a successful entrepreneur both rich, and successful. However, Gatsby lacks one thing, his one true love, a woman named Daisy Buchanan. Gatsby thinks he has to have Daisy in his life to have happiness and true success. Gatsby met Daisy before he served in WWI. Much to his dismay, Daisy was married off to the “evil” Tom Buchanan before he could return home and gain the financial success he felt he needed to acquire in order to marry her. The Great Gatsby follows James Gatz’s quest for love, in it he must overcome many hurdles in order to become worthy for Daisy.
Gatz builds his empire of wealth in order to be financially appealing to Daisy. He worked for five years as a right hand man to Dan Cody. Dan Cody is a wealthy miner who acts as Gatz’s mentor. Cody teaches him the ins and outs of making money and how to flaunt that money. When Gatz met Cody he changed his name to Jay Gatsby to sound more sophisticated.. After Cody mysteriously dies, Gatsby overcame Cody’s lover short-changing him out of the $25,000 dollars left to him by Cody and proceeds to build up a massive amount of wealth. Although it is never stated exactly how Gatsby earned his millions, one is led to believe it was not acquired through legal means.
In order to obtain his one true goal, Daisy. Jay Gatsby buys a mansion in West Egg just across the bay from Daisy who lives in East Egg. Gatsby’s home’s location in West Egg is significant because West Egg represents new money. Daisy’s house’s location in East Egg is significant because it represents old money. Additionally, from Gatsby’s house he can see a green light on Daisy’s dock across the bay. This light represents hope and acts as a “North Star” to guide Gatsby. Gatsby follows this light in order to find Daisy again. Gatsby hosts his extravagant parties and lets any and all attend in hopes that Daisy will visit one of his parties and he will be able to rekindle their romance.
Through his parties Gatsby is more or less successful in finding Daisy. Jordan Baker and Nick Carraway are both friends of Daisy, who Gatsby meets at one of his parties. Gatsby is able to set up a meeting with Daisy through the help of Jordan and Nick. When Daisy and Gatsby see one another for the first time in years, Gatsby plans works and they rekindle their old romance. Gatsby momentarily achieves the quest in his hero’s journey. Although he briefly achieves success, all his hard work is foiled by the evil force of Daisy’s husband, Tom Buchanan. Gatsby’s new found success as a hero is short-lived.
Tom loves Daisy, and Daisy still loves him — even thoughTom is not loyal to her. The climax of The Great Gatsby takes place in the Plaza Hotel when Gatsby tells Tom, “‘She never loved you, do you hear?’ he cried. ‘She only married you because I was poor and she was tired of waiting for me. It was a terrible mistake, but in her heart she never loved any one except me!’” (Fitzgerald 130). Tom knows deep down Daisy still loves him, and lets Daisy and Gatsby drive away together. On the way home from the hotel, with Gatsby in the passenger seat, Daisy “accidently” hits and kills Tom’s mistress with Gatsby’s Rolls Royce, then drives away.
Tom is infuriated by the death of his mistress, primarily because he thinks it was Gatsby driving the Rolls, not Daisy. Tom tells Mr. Wilson, his mistress’ husband, that Gatsby was the man who your wife was sleeping and who ran her over (Fitzgerald 178). He then coerces Mr. Wilson into killing Gatsby. Mr. Wilson then shoots and kills Gatsby, then shoots and kills himself. This hero’s journey ends in tragedy.
Fitzgerald uses these archetypal images and situations in order to enhance the story and enchant the reader into James Gatz’s quest for happiness. This helps to personify uber rich characters, and help the reader to like, or in the case of Tom Buchanan, hate them. Fitzgerald beautifully captures — as the narrator Nick Carraway becomes more and more bitter as he realizes the pettiness of his rich friends. The Great Gatsby is a fascinating take on the hero’s journey, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the ridiculous exploits of life of the rich and famous through Nick Carraway and Scott F. Fitzgerald’s eyes.
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