Theme Of Identity In The Great Gatsby

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Identity is defined as the set of characteristics by which a person or thing is definitively recognizable or known. From Lord of the Flies to Things Fall Apart, identity was an integral part of literature produced in the twentieth century. Identity crises in literature are most often faced by adolescents and migrants, both of which accurately describe James Gatz in The Great Gatsby. Young James Gatz, also known as Jay Gatsby, migrated all the way from North Dakota to the southern shores of Lake Superior then on to Minnesota and eventually to Long Island, New York all before the age of 23. Compared to most, Gatz’s identity crisis was a rather large one. He left home before becoming a legal adult, changed his name, and sailed around the continent …show more content…
This works in the same way as someone having the goal of becoming awesome when they grow up. If awsome is defined and named at seventeen years old, the forty year old version of this person probably won’t fit the bill. Because “ Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang up from his Platonic conception of himself” (Fitzgerald 98), there was not a chance that Gatz could become this man. Platonic idealism is the philosophy that everyone and every object has a perfect form. Perfection, by definition, is unattainable because there is always room for improvement, especially in people. Gatz’s “Platonic conception of himself” changed many times throughout his life. During the time period in which most of the book takes place, Gatz’s perfect self was one who was with Daisy Buchanan no matter the circumstances. The seventeen year old’s perfect self didn’t even know Daisy, he just wanted to be a great, rich man. The Gatsby at the end of the book imagined his perfect self as being someone who was with a Daisy that never loved anyone else. In a book called Egotism in German Philosophy, author George Santayana states that "The Platonic idealist is the man by nature so wedded to perfection that he sees in everything not the reality but the faultless ideal which the reality misses and suggests..." (Santayana 16-17). In this statement the Platonic idealist would be James Gatz. He is so obsessed with this perfect version of himself that he is blinded by it. He knows not that it is unrealistic or flawed, that it is constantly changing . Who Gatsby is, is constantly changing and effectively perfect; this makes it impossible for Gatz to ever become even a shadow of the Great

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