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Gatsby & Nick in The Great Gatsby Essay

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Updated: Nov 13th, 2021


The Great Gatsby is a novel of vibrant characters, and paradox is one of the main themes of the book. Nick, the main character, has contradictory feelings when it comes to Gatsby, his rich and showing-off neighbor. He dislikes certain things about him, while, at the same time, he admires him.

He represents everything that Nick has come to hate about the people who live in the West Egg. He also symbolizes the things that Nick and the other people around him would love to have, yet it is beyond their reach. Thesis Statement: Nick admires Gatsby because of his persistence in pursuing his dream despite the overwhelming odds against him.

Nick’s contradictory feelings

Nick hates the way the people in the West Egg love to display their wealth. He dislikes their poor tastes in clothes or fashion, vulgar speech, excessive lifestyles, and their lack of social connections. The people who live in the East Egg, on the other hand, have aristocratic connections and pedigrees. They are also conservative.

Nick is disgusted with the rotten crowd composed of Daisy, Tom, and Jordan. They do not exercise any restraint when it comes to alcohol and illicit sex. Tom is having an affair with Myrtle, yet he is married to Daisy. He rents an apartment where they can meet for their clandestine activities without any disturbance. They engage in wild parties and get drunk on most occasions.

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Tom takes Nick to a party at the valley of ashes where his lover, Myrtle, has also been invited. The guests get an opportunity to drink a lot and have fun. Nick claims that this is the second time in his life that he has gotten drunk. He is disgusted with Myrtle’s behavior when she is drunk. When Myrtle teases Tom about Daisy, Tom responds by breaks her nose. Tom’s character comes out as a man who likes having his way.

Tom does not feel guilty about cheating on his wife. Tom does not hesitate to lay his hand on a woman, even in public circles. He is a bully to all those that are around him. Nick is not impressed by these people. He is attracted to Jordan, even though he acknowledges that she is a dishonest person. Jordan had cheated in her first golf tournament. She is also a selfish and cynical individual. Nick, however, continues relating to her since he is attracted to her youth and vitality.

Nick views himself as a better person since he exercises restraint. He explains that he restrains himself from judging people since their behavior will fall short of his expected standards. Nick believes to be highly tolerant of the people he has come to know. However, this is a false view since, as he mingles with them, he is disgusted by their lifestyle.
Nick’s initial perception of Gatsby was similar to the view he had of the rotten crowd.

He had heard of the parties in his house and the wealth that he would display at his parties. Gatsby throws his glamorous parties every weekend. Nick comes to one of these parties where the host shows his car, a beautiful Rolls Royce, his swimming pool, his large house, and the beach. He also provides excellent food and a lot of liquor.

There is even a live orchestra playing in the moonlight. In these parties, the people get loud and rowdy as time goes by. After a while, Nick starts to notice that Gatsby is different. He admires the fact that Gatsby does not drink, separates himself from the crowd, and observes them. Nick admires the restraint and control that Gatsby exercises.

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As they interact, Gatsby confesses of his great love for Daisy and the dream he had that one day they would be together. Nick’s perception of the man begins to change. He admires Gatsby for being true to his dream and never giving up (Bevilacqua, 50).
Nick does not approve of the way Gatsby uses his material possessions to attract Daisy. He uses what he has instead of revealing who he is. Nick finds Daisy to be a shallow woman and does not understand why Gatsby loves her and wants to spend his life with her.

Gatsby and Daisy had been courting when Gatsby went to war. She had promised to wait for him but instead married someone else. Daisy had started feeling lonely and had a great desire to be with someone. She began attending parties and dances where she met Tom Buchanan, who provided safety and security.

Gatsby is a man who idolizes money or material possessions. As he tells Nick about his love for Daisy, he mentions that some of the things that attracted him to her were her wealth or riches, social position, and even her popularity. His attraction so moved him that he even lied about who he was.

Nick recognizes that Gatsby loves someone unworthy of his love and attention. In trying to get Daisy, Gatsby has been reduced to a life of merely amassing great wealth to attract her. At the core of all these events is a hopeful young man who is determined to achieve his dream. Marrying Daisy has become the focus of all his life, and he uses everything he owns to try and win her love.
Nick acknowledges that Gatsby could be linked to certain forms of organized crime. He has connections with Wolfshiem, a mysterious character in the underworld that has shady business connections.

Nick dislikes the possibility that Gatsby’s wealth could have been obtained through organized crime and dishonest methods. At the same time, he understands that all Gatsby has accumulated was not for his enjoyment; it was to attract Daisy to himself. Daisy is the reason he moved to the West Egg and constructed a house near the Buchannan’s mansion.

Nick perceives that Gatsby is different from the crowd that he entertains every weekend at his party. The people in the West Egg display a lot of wealth, yet they are hiding an immoral or decadent lifestyle. Gatsby, on the other hand, is different. The lavish displays of wealth hide or mask the honest and hopeful person that he is.

Nick, moved by the intensity of Gatsby’s feelings, agrees to help Gatsby reunite with Daisy. He wants to see the two long-term lovers finally together.

At the re-union, it is highly evident that the love that Gatsby has for Daisy has never fluctuated. He is awkward and clumsy around her. They start an affair. However, in the end, Daisy chooses to be with Tom. Gatsby, however, does not give up. He is still hopeful that they will be together one day in the future. Jay hopes that one day Daisy will leave Tom and spend her life with him. Gatsby desires Daisy so much that he does not see her for who she is. Nick feels that Daisy will crush Gatsby’s expectations now and also in the future.

In the future, Gatsby will still be left with his dream and nothing at all. Nick admires the love that Gatsby has for Daisy, perceiving it to be a genuine kind of love. It is the kind of love that cannot be hidden. Tom finds out that the two are having an affair by merely observing the way they are behaving around each other, even when they are in the presence of other people.

Nick is aware that the love that Tom has for Daisy is not genuine at all. Daisy has never cheated on her husband, yet Tom has a lover that he does not even respect. When confronted with the possibility that his wife could be having feelings for another man, Tom resorts to ridiculing Gatsby in front of people. He speaks about his criminal activities, his lack of social graces, and good breeding or aristocratic connections.

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As Tom continues talking about what Gatsby does not have, Daisy starts to connect more with Tom and leaves Gatsby alone.
Her reaction to Tom’s patronizing comments is only natural since she is a greedy person who wants to be associated with high social status and great wealth. She aims to protect her reputation in society, although Gatsby does not lose his love for her.

Later, when Gatsby and Daisy are driving back home, there is a fatal accident where Tom’s car hits Tom’s lover, Myrtle. Gatsby takes the blame yet it was Daisy who was driving the vehicle. Daisy’s love is conditional, yet Gatsby loves her despite it all. Gatsby comes forth as the noble character that he is, and Daisy’s character proves to be truly selfish just as Nick had judged it to be.

Despite being her first cousin, Nick has a realistic image or perception of Daisy that Gatsby does not have. It is this unselfish concern for another, the unconditional love he has, and the eternal hope that he has that causes Nick to compliment Gatsby.
“‘They’re a rotten crowd,’ I shouted across the lawn. ‘You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.’” (Fitzgerald, 164). He is indeed a better person than the Buchannan family and Jordan. He is better than the people of the West Egg. Gatsby represents the part of the society which is rare and has been suffocated by the immoral and selfish actions of the people who belong to the rotten world.


Nick admires Gatsby’s resilience and perseverance in his pursuit of Daisy’s love. The intense feelings that he has for her have been evident from the time they met. Gatsby had even lied to Daisy that he was from the same social class she was in. He presented a fake picture of himself in order to win her love. He used to feel inferior about who he was and whether he deserved her. However, he chose to convince her by lying about himself that he was good enough for her and that she should wait for him.

Gatsby accumulates a lot of wealth later in his life and moves near where she lives with her husband to try and win her love. Even though Daisy and Tom are married, Nick agrees to help Gatsby be with the love of his life. They start having an affair, but Nick feels that his actions are justified because of Gatsby’s noble character. Nick’s admiration for Gatsby is high since he is unlike anyone in the rotten bunch.

Works Cited

Bevilacque, Winifred. ‘“…in ecstatic cahoots”: Nick’s authoring of Gatsby’. Journal of the Spanish Association of Anglo-American Studies, 31.1(2010):45-56. Print.

Fitzgerald, Scott. The Great Gatsby. United Kingdom: Penguin Classics. 2007. Print.

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