Jay Gatsby is a flamboyant character of his own creation. Our first impression of him is that of a rich man shrouded in mystery. He tells stories about his childhood and his wartime heroism that seem almost too fantastical to be true. Nick seems suspicious but Gatsby gives just enough evidence to sway him, yet, even after Nick is convinced, the reader is left with a sense of uncertainty about Gatsby's past.
What motivates almost all of Gatsby's behavior is his desire to win the heart of his love Daisy and to be accepted into upper class society. He makes his fortune with the assumption that enough money would eventually convince her to love him. We see this desire almost immediately when near the beginning of the book he reaches out to the green light at the end of her dock.
Although Gatsby has been able to amass wealth and prestige, he isn't able to fake the education that he never received. This clearly frustrates him. He realizes that all the wealth and prestige cannot get him the education and upbringing that he would need to ultimately become part of daisy's world. Although they have an affair, he know that he can never truly belong with her.
There are many notable similarities between Gatsby and Fitzgerald. Both met their love while stationed at a Military Compound during World War I. In both cases, the significant other soon left them for another suitor with greater means. Both men also made their own fortune. Finally one of Gatsby's most memorable traits is his wild and extravagant behavior. He drives flashy cars and holds big parties. Fitzgerald too, was know for his rambunctious partying. An interesing not is that Gatsby is also idealistic and loyal to a fault. If Fitzgerald was trying to make a character he felt represented himself, it would make sense that he gave him these desirable qualities.
Theme's/Connection to Jazz Age
Social Mobility Social mobility is a major issue in The Great Gatsby. Gatsby is able transcend his former social class even if the means by which he has does this are less than legal. In the 20's - The Jazz Age - social mobility was for the first time possible in America on a large scale. People had always had the ability to defy odds and make their own fortune but the economic boom and the bootlegging of the 20's enabled people to move up in society on a much larger scale.
Social Class Almost every character in The Great Gatsby is upper class. Although some are Old Money while others are New Money - East or West Egg - they all seem to lead a similar opulent life style. The 20's were American history's first example of a wave of a large scale upward mobility. Although the newly wealthy were making fortunes and living similar life styles to the Old Money, New Money was considered to be less respectable. The residents of the East Egg looked down on the residents on the West Egg. The primary discernible cause of this judgement is education. New Money would have been made during adulthood so these people - like Gatsby- would not have had the opportunity to go to school.
Luxury The life of Gatsby and his friends could easily be characterized as luxurious. They drive nice cars, buy nice things, and seem to care more about how others perceive them than anything else. The Jazz age was characterized by conspicuous consumption.
Liberal Lifestyles In The Great Gatsby, the characters behave liberally. They all drink and party constantly and several extramarital affairs are implied while others are central to the plot. The Jazz age was a time when former social norms were challenged and people took advantage of this by living on the edge and ignoring the old rules. This is demonstrated by the popularity of the Flapper Movement. Much of the credit for this development can be attributed to the upward mobility. Traditionally, the upper class had set trend. Now that more liberal people were becoming rich, they were setting the trends.