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The Hopes and Delusions of Jay Gatsby

Olivia Avery is going into her third year of BA (Hons) Creative Writing and English Literature. She is looking to become a scriptwriter.

Oh, hopeful Jay

As human beings, most of us are fundamentally hopeful, whether we admit to it or not. We hope for promotions, good grades in school, and just a general happy and fulfilling life. However, there is a fine line between hope and delusion. On that line is where we find Mr Jay Gatsby.

The story of Gatsby

In case you did not know, Jay Gatsby is the main character of the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It has also been adapted into two very successful films, which stars Robert Redford and Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby himself. The story follows the character of Nick Carraway, an aspiring writer who moves to New York in 1922 in search of the famous 'American Dream'. He ends up moving into a house next to none other than Jay Gatsby himself, a mysterious man who throws extravagant parties in the hopes that his past love and Nick's cousin, Daisy Buchanan, will return to him. On many nights, Jay can be found staring at the green light at the end of her dock. With the help of Nick, Daisy and Jay reunite and begin an affair. Throughout the story, Jay attempts to get Daisy to leave her husband, Tom, in order to be with him instead. However, when Tom finds out about the affair (despite having an affair himself), he confronts Jay in a hotel in New York City. Tom tells Daisy that Jay is a criminal, having garnered his wealth from the moonshine business. Jay loses his temper with Tom, making Daisy realise her allegiance lies with Tom. Tom sends Jay and Daisy home together and Daisy hits Myrtle, Tom's lover, with Jay's car. Jay takes the blame for her and returns home, hoping that Daisy will call him in the morning and they'll run away together. That is not how it pans out for him. Tom manages to convince Myrtle's husband, George, that Jay is the man she's been having an affair with and so George heads to Jay's mansion and shoots both Jay and himself dead. Nick then has a revelation that in the pursuit of the so-called 'American Dream' and Daisy, Gatsby became corrupted by money and dishonesty.

Hope vs Delusion

The fine line between hope and delusion is something that one must be very wary of. I believe that Jay's intentions were very understandable, as most human beings desire wealth and love. However, as stated previously, he becomes corrupted by money and dishonesty in the search of the 'American Dream'. His hopes are essentially to impress Daisy with his wealth and earn her love that way. He decides to earn his wealth by going into illegal activities, such as bootlegging alcohol like moonshine. This, in my opinion, is his first mistake and where the dishonesty comes into play. He puts on the front of a wealthy man, throwing over-the-top parties in order to win Daisy's affection but he never reveals to her where his money comes from and he earns it in a dishonest way. He essentially creates a false image of himself because he thinks that that is what Daisy wants. He is so blinded by love that it is no longer love at all but rather infatuation and obsession.

The Role of Daisy

Because Jay Gatsby is so infatuated with Daisy, she manages to play him like a fiddle. Upon reuniting, they begin their affair but it all goes in flames when the confrontation at the New York City hotel suite occurs. Once Jay is exposed by Tom, Daisy decides to stay with him but doesn't tell Jay. He not only takes the blame for accidentally hitting Myrtle but he then goes into a state of delusion, convincing himself that Daisy will call him the following morning. He, as previously stated, is unaware that she has chosen Tom over him and thus, she uses him for her own greed, as she is also corrupted by the power of wealth. They are as bad as each other and that is how Jay ends up being shot by George. With the fatal shot through his chest, Jay's obsession with the green-light woman comes to an end.

What to Learn from Jay Gatsby

There is a lot that can be learned from Jay Gatsby. Firstly, pure hope is one of the best qualities to retain as a human being, as it keeps us alive and functioning. It can be something as small as going home and hoping that your favourite TV show is on or as big as being able to become as wealthy as Jay. However, with hope, one must balance their expectations and not go into the dangerous waters of delusion. Jay wanted to achieve wealth, which is perfectly common and normal, but he chose to achieve it in a dishonest way and thus he became corrupted. He also believed that money was the only form of wealth, which isn't true. Wealth can cover so many more things than just plain money, such as love, friendships and a fulfilling life.

Another thing we can learn from Jay is to follow the green light but not be blinded by it. In other words, we must have the bravery and courage to go after love and welcome love into our hearts but not to the point where it makes us obsessed and corrupts us in a negative way. Jay was, in my opinion, no longer truly in love with Daisy by the end of the story but more so in love with the idea of her. He was willing to take the blame for murder on her behalf, which is just incredulous. And what's awful is that she let him take the blame and get murdered for it. He got so blinded by her green light that he lost himself, literally and figuratively. We must understand and know our self worth in order to not have someone do something like this to us.

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The Green Light

Ultimately, we are all human beings who, just like Jay and Daisy. My wish for anyone reading this is to strive to love and be ourselves and hold onto hope. Be good and kind to those around you but not to the extent where your self worth and character becomes destructed.

Go after that green light but be wary not to be blinded by it.

© 2022 Olivia Avery

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