How appropriate do you think it is to label The Great Gatsby a rags to riches story?
As it is a novel set in the economic boom of 1920s America, the idea of prosperity and the American dream are certainly central themes to ‘The Great Gatsby’. Although the main protagonist, Jay Gatsby, does rise to power through wealth following his humble beginnings, Gatsby never achieves the most important part of his dream which is Daisy Buchanan. Because Gatsby never really has Daisy, the person who he acquired all his wealth for, and his life is cut short, it is perhaps more fitting to label ‘The Great Gatsby’ as a tragedy. Although the non-chronological effects of the narrative make it seem as though it is not a ‘rags to riches’ story, the story of how Gatsby comes to acquire his vast riches is still told. James Gatz is hired by a wealthy old man, Dan Cody, who found his wealth mining silver. During the time he travelled with Cody, Gatsby experienced a glamorous life far removed from his North Dakota upbringing. He attended parties with the wealthy where women were known to ‘rub champagne into his hair.’ Through his friendship with Cody Gatsby acquired a certain amount of sophistication; it is from Dan Cody that he took his infamous catch phrase ‘old sport’. Most of all, during his time with Cody, Jay Gatsby left James Gatz behind. Looking at his transformation into Jay Gatsby on his travels with Dan Cody, it would absolutely be appropriate to label ‘The Great Gatsby’ a ‘rags to riches’ story, as the whole book is essentially centered on one man and his journey to wealth. However, the book is not written from the perspective of Jay Gatsby, but from the perspective of Nick Carraway and how, in meeting Gatsby and learning of his story, his outlook on life was changed. Arguably the story is written by Nick to leave a legacy for his friend; through Nick’s retelling of his friend’s life, he is keeping Gatsby alive even after his death. It is clear throughout the story...
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