Essay on Jay Gatsby: A Tragic Hero

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"Tragedy, then, is a process of imitating an action which has serious implications, is complete, and possesses magnitude; by means of language which has been made sensuously attractive, with each of its varieties found separately in the parts; enacted by the persons themselves and not presented through narrative; through a course of pity and fear completing the purification (catharsis) of such emotions." (Aristotle)

The “tragic hero” is an indefatigable staple in all mediums of literature. Although the term’s defining characteristics have morphed since its initial inception by Aristotle those many millennia ago, the main idea has endured. To be a tragic hero, several requirements must be met. The formula begins with a character that
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And this feeling does not dissipate, but in fact is reinforced immediately. No more than two pages into the novel is Gatsby described by Nick in a way that would make any sinner seem saintly, with the grand compliment of, “If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him...” (2). Sincerity and a true genuineness of character: these are valued immensely in society, a fact not lost on Fitzgerald. By immediately establishing Gatsby’s admirable qualities, he firmly plants the roots that provide a perfect framework for the perfect tragic hero. However, this is not to say that Jay Gatsby should be a revered literary figure. Throughout the course of the book he repeatedly does not live up to the standards set for him both by the title, and by that initial summary from Nick. Simply put, he is a realistically imperfect human on a level akin to that of many other characters in the novel. Along with his admirable qualities exists the “tragic flaw” that defines him as a tragic hero. Gatsby is a disillusioned man, who is unable to separate the real from the ideal. After initially being rejected by Daisy because of his less than favorable economic status, he pitifully
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