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What Makes One Great? Essay

What makes a person great? Is it simply his appearance, wealth, and social status? Or is it something deeper like his personality and his dreams? Gatsby is believed to be ‘great’ due to all of these things. In _The Great Gatsby_ by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jay Gatsby is considered ‘great’ because the measurement of his wealth, his parties, his dreams, and his larger-than-life personality mark him as a very important man to other characters in the novel and to the reader as well.

Many of the people in the book believe that Gatsby is great merely because of his appearance. The hundreds of people who attend his parties every weekend have never even met him, but they automatically think he is great because he throws such fun parties due to his wealth. Many people who do not personally know him but have seen him also believe he is great because of the way he looks. He is very wealthy, so he is always dressed in expensive, fancy clothes. Even aside from his clothing, he is a very remarkable man. His features, especially his smile, are striking. “He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly.

It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced-or seemed to face-the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on _you_ with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.” (Fitzgerald 48).

Gatsby also has an incredible personality, and he is one of the most determined people out there. Gatsby was formerly known as James Gatz, a rural farm boy who grew up in North Dakota without connections, money, or education. He decided he was going to escape the circumstances he was in and
make a name for himself one day. His father came across a notebook he had as a boy that showed his solemnity and determination to make this happen. On the last page, there is a very specific schedule written down. “Rise from bed . . . . Be better to parents” (Fitzgerald 173). His dad says “Jimmy was bound to get ahead. He always had some resolves like this or something. Do you notice what he’s got about improving his mind? He was always great for that.” (Fitzgerald 173).

Not only was Gatsby determined to change his lifestyle, but he is also very determined to win Daisy back by doing whatever it takes. In the simplest of words, he is a romantic fool. Gatsby and Daisy fell in love about five years before Daisy married Tom, but Gatsby had to leave her to go off to war. Daisy never heard from him again until it was too late. When Gatsby got word of this, he is determined to win Daisy back, completely ignoring the fact that she is now married. “I’m going to fix everything just the way it was before” (Fitzgerald 110).

He does everything he can from saving his money for three years just to buy a house across the bay from where she lives, to throwing his parties every weekend hoping that she wanders in one day. Even when Daisy finally decides that she is better off staying with Tom and when Gatsby is suspected of killing Myrtle, Gatsby refuses to go away. He still hopes in his heart that Daisy will leave Tom for him, so he cannot face the fact that their love story is over. This foolish action later leads to his death. While he is refusing to leave and hoping that Daisy changes her mind, Wilson is planning his revenge. So he may be a fool at times, but at least he is a fool for love.

Jay Gatsby is considered ‘great’ by many people because of his wealth and appearance, but his greatness extends to his good-mannered personality and go-getter attitude in everything he does. Even though the man he is today was partially built upon lies, he is who he is because he knew what he wanted and he knew how to get it. Nick even singles him out as the only real person in the crowd of fakes. He tells him that he is “worth the whole damn bunch put together” (Fitzgerald 154). All of these things are what make Gatsby so great.

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