Many read this book growing up. The rest has seen the movie. [If you haven't, please go read it, then watch it.] Some are swaying to its soundtrack these days. I did all of these.
The beauty of the character Jay Gatsby is that he can be interpreted in many ways. Yet, most of us choose to marvel at the intensity of Gatsby's love for Daisy. He dedicated his whole life, his whole existence to the quest of finding her love - to attaining her. He knew on some level that she did not love him, but he did not want to believe it. If only she would leave her husband, if only they could go back to the past, everything would be just okay. He would be happy again. He would be with Daisy.
We like to live in the past. If only we could change a few details from our past, we could fix everything. We could be happy again. But the sad truth is, you can't be happy by yearning for the past because you are yearning for something that does not exist. It's foolishness. It becomes an obsession. Gatsby was border-lined obsessed with the idea of being with Daisy. He turned his whole life into such a perfect fraud that he even fooled himself. He forgot about love. He forgot about his real life, or what he could have gotten out of it for the sake of attaining an idea from the past that ceased to exist. Perhaps it never even existed then. If it did, Daisy would have waited for him when she could.
I cannot possibly have respect for anyone like that. No obsessed man ever loved. No obsessed man ever attained his obsession and was happy, and I think that is precisely what Fitzgerald wanted to convey through Gatsby. He wants us to remember the fine line between love and obsession, and the consequences of crossing over. The "Great" in The Great Gatsby is so ironic.
I want to think of him as a great person, but the more I think about it, the more I can't. He is not great. Fitzgerald's character is great, the way it is written. But if Jay Gatsby was a person, he would not be great.
In a world which is increasingly becoming lonely and miserable, we don't need more Gatsbys. Please don't be a Gatsby. There is no nobility in obsessing over something that does not exist. Desire leaves us heartbroken, it wears us out. Desires can wreck your life. You deserve to be happy. You deserve a better life than Gatsby's.
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