Gatsby: F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gatsby Essays

Submitted By frslash
Words: 1355
Pages: 6

The Gatsbian Dream
In The Great Gatsby, a novel by Scott Fitzgerald, it is stated that “Reserving judgement is a matter of infinite hope” (2). This quote shows that by taking extra time to judge something and understand it better a person will find themselves with a great hope for what they wish could be true. Now, this hope can either be put to good use or it can be misplaced, which is decided by a very treacherous journey. This is when waiting and "listening for a moment to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star" (111) can be very important. Using reason to aim hope is very important, and when reason is lost at this step in life, so is the target. Without a target an arrow is useless, as is a person with no goals. Furthermore, hope is one of the most important ideas to keep present in life as it allows a person to commit themselves to something, as Gatsby commits to Daisy. The problem lies then with the amount of hope that is committed to one thing and whether or not that thing is worthy of the hope. For example, Gatsby invests his whole self to Daisy and when he finds that it is impossible for her to commit to him and in turn his world becomes “a new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air drifted fortuitously about” (161). His world loses its definition and everything is wrong; he is dead. Without Daisy being a worthy object of love there is no Gatsby. This is when a person has delved too deep into the intangible yet realistic hope, and become dependent on an idea, which at any second could fail them. Gatsby's existential greatness emerges from his capacity for hope, just as his downfall comes from misplacing this fantastic hope.
Harry Frankfurt, I believe, would think that Gatsby is a good person. Gatsby devotes his entire being in wholehearted love to Daisy, and allows this to move him to action. Gatsby has a rare and “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” (2). Nick’s admiration for this aspect of Gatsby’s love of Daisy is simple. Nick sees that Gatsby has devoted himself with all his heart and therefore mind to Daisy and accepted this as what he is. Frankfurt requires simply that a person follow their dreams and ambitions of “wholehearted love” to the fullest extent possible and accept the “dictates” that come with these loves (“Getting it Right” Harry Frankfurt). But there are things that can go wrong- people have a hard time knowing “how to make specific concrete decisions about what to aim at and how to behave” (Getting it Right Frankfurt 185). Gatsby demonstrates an amazing readiness to “throw himself into [his dream of Daisy] with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way” (Fitzgerald 95-96). This ability is admirable because only by taking a leap of faith can a person move forward in some situations. The problem, though is that sometimes a person’s leap of faith or “loving may turn out to have been misguided because its objects are not what we thought they were,” like Gatsby’s love to Daisy even after she denies that she loves him a hundred percent (Getting it Right Frankfurt 200). Gatsby mistakes Daisy for a worthy object of care, and follows through wholeheartedly which is the commendable trait, but still, Daisy is just not worth it, so his beautiful project is for naught.
Christine Korsgaard would also, in my mind, think of Gatsby as a person doing personhood well. Korsgaard requires that a person’s actions must “most fully unify her and therefore most fully constitute her as their author,” which in turn must be “issued from her” for the perceived good of the self (“The Constitution of Agency”). When given the opportunity to ascend to the stars or to give himself over completely to Daisy, he listens “for a moment to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star" (Fitzgerald 111)