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Similarities Between The Great Gatsby And Willy Loman

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Many people are driven by the desire to be successful. However, most do not become obsessed with their goals and let it take control over their lives. For Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, the “...obsessive desire to succeed” creates major problems because what they perceive as successful is completely disillusioned (Brockett, 97). Both Gatsby and Willy are unable to achieve their dream because “...psychological realism has replaced external realism” (Brockett, 98). Their sole focus on the dream creates conflicts in the other aspects of their lives.
The young Jay Gatsby represents a character who sets reasonable goals for himself and at first is only preoccupied
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He has already acquired all the material things he could ever possibly desire, so the only thing he has left to strive for is Daisy. Gatsby’s refusal to accept that Daisy has moved on from him shows how he cannot process the emotional pain he is feeling, resulting in him living in the past. The only thing Gatsby desires at this point is to repeat the past, which he firmly believes can happen. When he is told that one cannot repeat the past he responds with “...Why of course you can!” (Fitzgerald, 110). This proves that Gatsby is unable to live in the present, which is the major cause of why he is never able to reach his goal of total success. Gatsby tries to fill this void he has in life by throwing parties to attract Daisy to him. He unsuccessfully attempts to make these superficial and material things replace the love he feels for Daisy, because he knows that she will never reciprocate the love he has for…show more content…
His preoccupation with success has made him “ ...[lie] to both himself and to others out of a desire to believe that he is a success” (Brockett, 98). Willy dreams of being successful and leaving behind the legacy of a great businessman, but this unhealthy obsession actually causes the demise of his mental state and lack of success in fulfilling his dream. Right before he dies, Biff, Willy’s son, talks about “...what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been” (Miller, 81). Willy finally realizes that Biff has been trying to achieve actual happiness with his own life. Willy has always believed financial success is tied to happiness, but Biff finally breaks through to him that he could have been happy this whole time if he would have focused on his family life instead of his work. Willy becomes aware that he has been the only thing stopping his success because he has developed this illusion about his life, instead of accepting the reality of his failure in his business and his family.
Overall, Gatsby and Willy represent two characters obsessed by the desire to succeed. However, they experience difficulty in reaching their dreams in the form of psychological immobility due to their attempts at reliving the past. Both characters find it emotionally easier to relive past experiences because they are not happy with the current situation of their life. Due to their preoccupation with the past, they
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