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Jay Gatsby, the main character of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel ‘The Great Gatsby’, is presented to readers as a mysterious millionaire, rich and successful, who made himself, formed his character, and in sum realized everything he aspired to. On the one hand, such a person should be admired, but something prevents me from this. Probably the reason is that I actually feel very sorry for him. Gatsby is a prime example of a man whose spirit is constantly tormented by a sense of being unsatisfied, leaving him yearning for more. His desire to be a prosperous and successful person, to be different from what his background prepared for him, was so strong that he was willing to leave many things behind, including his name.

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In fact, Jay Gatsby is not his real name, but James Gatz. He does not come from money but from a farming family in North Dakota. At the age of seventeen, he met a wealthy man who became his mentor, Dan Cody. Observing the life of the rich and powerful, James realized that he wanted a better future. In his novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald classifies Gatsby’s parents as ambitionless, unsuccessful farmers to distinguish them from Gatsby’s ideal parents, who would be wealthy. Gatsby was never satisfied with being James Gatz. He was so dissatisfied with having embarrassing parents, in fact, that he disassociated himself from them and never thought of them as his actual parents. He understood that with his background and his name, unsuited to him and the way of life that he sought, he would not achieve success and would not become a prosperous person. He believed that his name should sound more aristocratic, it should fully reflect his new character and lifestyle. So, as he saw Dan Cody anchor his yacht on the most ‘insidious flat’ on Lake Superior, he changed his name to Jay Gatsby. Fitzgerald’s ominous diction of ‘insidious flat’ foreshadows that Gatsby’s choice to change his identity will be a bad one. On the surface, Fitzgerald is describing the flat as insidious but is unknowingly associating insidious with Gatsby’s choice to change his identity. As described by ‘insidious’, his choice seems subtle and gradual, but in reality is deceitfully harmful.

Gatsby’s story is not really about true happiness, but more about a chronic and painful feeling of dissatisfaction. Gatsby was driven by the desire for wealth, prosperity, and honor from an early age, despite the fact that this did not correlate very well with his upbringing. He wanted so badly to be someone else that he was ready for anything, including renouncing his name.

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