Self Control In The Great Gatsby Essay

1103 Words 5 Pages
Man craves control. Many leaders throughout history have worked tirelessly and persistently to obtain more and more control over others. Having control is often portrayed as a positive characteristic and is a respected trait. Many Americans believe power and money create a path to control, however, controlling others is not the only kind of influence that satisfies man’s desire to feel significant. In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald shows the significance of another form of control: self-control. Nick Carraway can clearly identify Gatsby’s lack of self-control and its effects after spending a substantial amount of time with him one summer. Nick observes, “he talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, …show more content…
As Nick describes what he has learned about Gatsby’s past, he notes, “his heart was in a constant, turbulent riot. The most grotesque and fantastic conceits haunted him in his bed at night. A universe of ineffable gaudiness spun itself out in his brain while the clock ticked on the washstand and the moon soaked with wet light his tangled clothes upon the floor.” (99). Gatsby’s “heart,” a symbol of emotions, is described as a “turbulent riot.” “Turbulent” indicates instability and “riot” connotes a wild state. These two words signify that Gatsby’s emotions are not calm or under control. Additionally, Nick mentions that Gatsby experiences “grotesque and fantastic conceits.” Gatsby’s conceits, a favorable opinion of one’s own abilities, are described as grotesque and fantastic, two words synonymous with surreal. However, these conceits appear “in his bed at night,” implying that they are dreams, which are unconsciously generated. This subconscious influence of Gatsby’s mental state verifies his lack of self-control. Furthermore, Gatsby is filled with an “ineffable gaudiness,” an unimaginable amount of ostentation, that is accompanied by an image of a ticking clock. This image suggests that Gatsby feels he can no longer afford to waste more time finding his surreal potential. Altogether, Gatsby shows that a lack of self-control over his emotions and mental state leads him to irrationally pursue the American …show more content…
As Nick initially introduces Gatsby’s character, he includes, “if personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him.” (2). Here, Nick concentrates on Gatsby’s “personality,” a primarily self-determined pattern of behavior. Personality also contributes to an individual’s reputation. Asserting that Gatsby’s behavior consists of “successful gestures,” indicates that Nick believes Gatsby is capable of presenting himself properly while striving for a positive reputation. Furthermore, Nick mentions that these successful gestures appear in “an unbroken series.” This consistency in Gatsby’s demeanor suggests that he has some self-control over his character, and as a result, Nick describes Gatsby’s personality as “gorgeous,” a word that expresses pleasantness and attractiveness. Describing Gatsby’s demeanor in this way demonstrates how self-control facilitates a desirable character and an enhanced

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