Character Analysis of Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby
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Fitzgerald does not introduce Jay Gatsby, his novel's title character, to the audience until the third chapter of the book. By this time, the reader has encountered the same aura that Gatsby creates for the residents of West Egg. He appears as an aloof, wealthy, highly desirable and influential man. It is not until much later in the novel that the reader learns in depth features of Gatsby's past and personality. For instance, he comes from a poor background and pursues wealth primarily as a way of capturing the attention of Daisy, whom he has loved for many years.
To a large extent, Gatsby's character focuses on transformation. The reader, however, does not learn the extent of his formation until late in the book. Gatsby has always reviled the poverty that he lived with as a child. He longs to belong to the wealthy class as a way of escaping his poverty and proving himself worthy of Daisy. Gatsby pulled himself out of poverty through illegal activities that earned him tremendous wealth. He also changed his name to Jay Gatsby from James Gatz. In a sense, the novel's title The Great Gatsby could highlight his penchant for transformation much in the same way that illusionists might advertise themselves such as "The Great Houdini". Despite his accumulation of wealth, Gatsby cannot truly become a member of the wealthy class because he lacks their sense of style, tradition, and grace.