Throughout “The Great Gatsby”, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, we witness Nick Carraways obsessive fascination of Gatsby. Nick states at the beginning of the novel that he is morally repelled by the vulgarity of all the characters he meets during his stay in New York, with the exception of Gatsby. Although Gatsby sometimes acts immorally like the characters around him, something sets him aside in Nicks eyes. In fact, Nick explains, Only Gatsbywas exempt from my reaction-Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn.(p.2) Despite Gatsby being the embodiment of what Nick despises most, he finds Gatsby captivating because of his distinct behavior.
Part of what intrigues Nick is Gatsbys mysterious character. Nick hears many wild rumors that circulate through Gatsbys guests, such as, Well, they say hes a nephew or a cousin of Kaiser WilhelmIm scared of him. (p.32) One guest even claimed that He was a German spy during the war. (p.44) Most of the other characters in the novel have a different opinion of Gatsby simply because they do not know his true background and unlike Nick, are not interested enough to discover his true personality.
Most people that know of Gatsby base their knowledge largely on rumors; others simply judge Gatsby by his wealth, and most only care about his ostentatious parties. When Nick finally meets Gatsby, he is surprised when he learns that Gatsby does not drink and often distances himself from the rest of the chaotic party. As Nicks friendship progresses with Gatsby, he becomes more interested in Gatsbys unknown past.
Gatsbys extraordinary ability to turn his dreams into a reality creates an endless potential, making Gatsby an even more interesting character. Gatsbys great wealth and success also interests Nick, It was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. (p.2) Unlike the rest of the superficial and meaningless characters in the book, Gatsby has always strived to achieve more and make something of his life.
Another aspect that makes Gatsby attractive to Nick is his charismatic personality. Gatsbys numerous war medals, attitude, and overall appearance make him unique. Nick shows particular interest in Gatsbys smile and says, He smiled understandingly- much more then understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it (p.48) Nick is also fascinated by Gatsby because they share a similar background. For instance, both Nick and Gatsby fought in World War I, attended world renowned universities, and came from poor families in the Midwest, but both have now acquired great wealth for themselves. Although Nick and Gatsby have achieved similar goals, Gatsby has done so on an entirely different level. For example, Gatsby is wealthier and has been awarded many medals for his success in World War I.
Although Nick may not always approve of what he sees, Gatsbys behavior nevertheless continues to interest him. Nick is not appalled by some of Gatsbys unethical behavior because he is not lifeless like the other characters, making him stand above the rest. He tries to explain his mixed emotions for Gatsby and says, I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life. (p.35) Although Nick may not see Gatsby as a role model, he finds him admirable because he is unlike any other person Nick has observed, which is evident in their strong friendship.
Overall, Gatsbys image of an Oxford Man tainted by a notoriously mysterious background could only interest a true observer, like Nick Carraway. As he untangles Gatsbys past by putting aside radical rumors and asking more direct questions, he begins to form an accurate image of the true Jay Gatsby that no one else knows, only encouraging his curiosity. In conclusion, Nicks attraction to Gatsby originates from his nature to observe only the most interesting people, in which Gatsby is the apotheosis
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