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Tragedy And The Tragic Hero English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 798 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Tragic heroes are described as a character in literature that the audience looks up to but has a tragic flaw that eventually leads to their death. One of the famous tragic heroes in literature is Jay Gatsby from the novel The Great Gatsby. Gatsby is the reason why the novel ends tragically. He is known as a powerful and wealthy man which makes him someone the audience can look up to. Gatsby throws extravagant parties at his mansion that many people and celebrities attend and gossip spread about him. Rumors were mentioned when a guest said, “he’s a bootlegger….One time he killed a man who found out that he was nephew to Von Hindenburg and second cousin to the devil” (Fitzgerald). It shows that people believed Gatsby to be great and something more than the average man, therefore he is higher than the rest of the people. Just like many tragic heroes, Gatsby is a superior character. When Gatsby was James Gatz, he had a desire to make a name for himself and wanted to earn a fortune because of his love of a girl named Daisy. Because Daisy came from a wealthy background, Gatsby drove himself to become wealthy like her. He reached his goals because he has the ability to change his hopes and dreams into reality (“SparkNotes…”). To achieve his goal, Gatsby was involved in criminal acts such as selling illegal alcohol and stolen securities. When Gatsby achieved the wealth and status, he was bored and lonely (“Isolation…”). He is isolated because he bars himself from other people. The narrator of the novel, Nick, eventually becomes Gatsby’s closest friend and one of the only ones who care about him after Gatsby passes away.

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A major tragic flaw Gatsby has is his inability to face reality and he believes in an illusion. He still believes that he can still win over Daisy even though she is married and has a child. He mainly lives in the past believing he can still be with Daisy. But after the five years that Gatsby has spent trying to better himself, Daisy has met Tom and had a child with him. All of his hard work shows that Gatsby is very loyal to Daisy that he would spend his time trying to win her. Gatsby denies that Daisy has moved on when he said to her husband, Tom, “she loves me… she never loved you” (Fitzgerald). He tries to court her again when they spend afternoons together and the time he invites her for a tour of his house. This has an impact on Daisy in which she loves both Gatsby and Tom and struggles between her two loves. Tom also comes to dislike Gatsby for trying to steal his wife away which contributes to Gatsby’s death. There are also times when he remember the past and recalls the memory of him falling in love with her when he was just a young military officer. However in the end Gatsby has truly lost Daisy to Tom after she can’t say that she never loved Tom (“The Great…”). Thus Gatsby’s illusion of winning Daisy has crumbled which leads to his downfall.

In the end, Gatsby gets shot by George Wilson when he believed his wife and Gatsby was having an affair which is false. When Gatsby dies, he has lost many important things. He realized that he cannot be with the Daisy from long ago. He realizes that the Daisy now was not the same Daisy that loved only him when they first met. The dream he had of being with Daisy has been crushed and can no longer exist (“The Great…”). All this time when he has been trying to make himself a man fit for her has been in vain. The image of the wealthy man Gatsby has also been destroyed when his father arrives (“The Great…”). His father tells Nick about the true Gatsby whose name is really James Gatz and reveals Gatsby’s past. He has nothing left when he dies now that he has lost his love and his name. He also has no one close to him which is mentioned by Nick when he states that he is one of the only people who will remember Gatsby after his death. Nick also realizes how the American dream can fail because of Gatsby.

The character of Jay Gatsby is a tragic hero in the novel The Great Gatsby. He was a wealthy and powerful man that people can look up to and his good fortune reverses when he realizes that he cannot get his love, Daisy. Like all tragic heroes, Gatsby has a tragic flaw which is his ability to live in his illusions. He believes that he can win over Daisy even though she is married and have a child. He completely ignores those details and goes after Daisy anyway. When Gatsby finally dies, he realized that he has nothing left when he can’t have Daisy and when he lost his name when his father shattered the image of “Jay Gatsby.” Therefore, Jay Gatsby is no more in the end.


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