Great Gatsby Essay
The Empty Body and Full Heart
Gatsby may be hollow, but his priorities are in order. The poem by T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men” and the character of James Gatsby from The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald, have striking resemblance. The poem’s first stanza depicts a man with no real substance, just as the character Gatsby. For Gatsby, he is a shell of a man, perusing his goal of Daisy; Years do not diminish this passion, nor do wars, or husbands. On Gatsby’s great journey, he sometimes does things that ordinary people might think irrational, but to a man on a mission, it makes perfect sense.
In order to understand the connection between Gatsby and “The Hollow Men,” it is critical to know the meaning behind the words of the poem. Almost immediately, one can tell that it is referring to a man of little substance. “We are the stuffed men - Leaning together” If a man is stuffed, it represents the fact that they are filled with a substance with no value, whether it be straw or teddy bear fluff. In the poem itself, T. S. Eliot is alluding to the fact that this stuffed man is a scarecrow full of straw. The leaning together shows that the stuffed man requires some sort of support to keep him up right. This could be a wooden post, a lover, or a goal. Farther down in the stanza, the poem describes the whispers from the dried voices as meaningless. This refers to the men that have long since past their prime and talk about memories or dreams so much that they become just a waste of breath. The last part of the stanza emphasizes the meaningless of the idea and describes everyday occurrences like a rat walking on broken glass.
Gatsby lacks depth for anything except for his pursuit of Daisy. He is like a robot programed with a single cause, and like the scarecrow filled with only one substance, straw, his love for Daisy is singular. Even in his previous life before he met Daisy, he was driven to become a wealthy man in the mold of his childhood role model Cody Banks. Gatsby got a taste of the good life by traveling around the world on Cody’s yacht, which “represented all the beauty and glamour in the world” (100). He drank the finest wine and food. He lived in luxury. When Gatsby first met Daisy, this is how he felt. He got a taste of something and that thing was jerked away from him at the start of World War 1. By nature, Gatsby wanted it again; both the money and the girl. Determined to the end, Gatsby was willing to do anything to return to the life he lost, even if they was illegal. The meeting with Meyer Wolfsheim offers insight into what degree Gatsby would go to accomplish his goals. Wolfshiem’s criminal life is shown when he describes his cufflinks saying they are “the finest specimens of human molars” (72). Clearly Gatsby has done business with some very notorious criminals
Once Gatsby was rich he could finance his goal of winning back Daisy, but as time passes, Gatsby begins to not love the thing he lost, and instead craves the journey to acquire it. As described in The Hollow Man as leaning together, Gatsby is leaning on his goals. They keep him up and functioning, they giving him a glowing vitality. Without them, he wouldn’t have a reason to live, and he would be back harvesting clams and lobsters. Gatsby spent years and many fortunes trying to win back Daisy with a huge house directly across the water from her, elaborate parties, hydroplanes, and anything to get here to notice. However, during all this effort, Gatsby has remained the same because he has continually focused on his love, compared to Daisy who pushed Gatsby to the back of her mind when she married Tom. This phenomenon is apparent when Gatsby and Daisy first meet again in Nick’s house. Nick describes Gatsby walking