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Gatsby and Hamlet VS Human Condition

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Throughout literature and history included in this world there are various examples to answer the questions of who are we and why are we here. This coming from many people of whom are struggling in today’s world. The readers explore the appearance vs the reality of expectations followed through the pieces “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare. In these selections the readers analyze how both Hamlet and Gatsby explore the aspect of our humanity and what it means to be human. People will have to learn to have the ability to understand the elements of classical literature under human tendencies. The readers examine how and why the human condition has effect on the events and situations of the literary elements in the collections of the novel and drama.

To put on an act means to speak or behave in an artificial, informal and unprofessional way. Humans do such things as putting on an act and behaving differently in a way to impress or show off to someone or something. They carry out the action of not being themselves and/or try to be someone different rather. Sometimes this may have a positive outcome, but for most it may cost. Shakespeare does this is as way to show power. Hamlet going insane makes the characters confused and distracted, which allows Hamlet to secretly ponder the death of his uncle. The readers see this when Hamlet meets with Ophelia and she notices his odd behaviour saying, “O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!” (Act III: Scene I. 152). This shows how humans act in order to get what they want while having a very shallow nature. In the novel “The Great Gatsby” Fitzgerald does a very good job of portraying this by grabbing the reader's attention to draw toward Daisy’s reaction to Gatsby becoming rich, by focusing on the idea that Daisy made a mistake not Gatsby. This shallow nature expresses the characters and closes up on the snooty and fake outcomes of the reality of the human nature. Through these examples readers can notice the shallow personalities of these human beings, and how none of them really care about what is going on. Most humans have a tendency to do things oddly while distracted or pressured.

Choices and decisions that people and characters make may lead to consequences if not maintained and thought through. Motivation and procrastination are two very discreet things, which are apart the human condition and are decisions that people make each day. Why do the characters in both “Hamlet” and “The Great Gatsby” make poor decisions that lead to horrible consequences? In Fitzgerald's novel, Gatsby demonstrates having a tragic flaw of obsession. As seen in the story Gatsby offers to take the blame for Myrtle and the accident so he can protect Daisy. This leads to his death as Wilson kills him for being the murderer of his wife. This example shows how the possible unnecessary outcomes of decision making has caused problems in the human exchange of events, as well the obsession Gatsby has over Daisy. This happens because it is apart of life, not doing things right when you know you should. These are examples of human error through wrong observations. Hamlet's tragic flaw is procrastination and is shown many times throughout the novel. The example where it shows his worst consequences is when Hamlet waits too long to get revenge on Claudius. Hamlet procrastinates this the entire novel and in the end he loses his life over it. If Hamlet would of had motivation to get it done he could of continued his life and became king. Both these situations led to consequences related in the death of the main characters which is a big ending event in both of these selections. This allows the reader to understand how the human condition and related flaws in life can cost an individual the most through the basis of classical literature.

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Being selective with thoughts and actions is something people naturally do. Choosing to do something or not is a major factor throughout the two selections. Shakespeare and Fitzgerald do this as a common way of connecting the characters to the readers, and making the readers feel as if they could relate to the character in such a way. In “Hamlet”, Hamlet becomes obsessed with Ophelia and explains that the thought of life in hell would be worse than life on earth. Hamlet is selective in the words that he uses in this section of the play, because he chooses to become close with Ophelia. Hamlet not only is obsessed with Ophelia he loves Ophelia. Saying, “I loved Ophelia; forty thousand brothers/ Could not, with all their quantity of love, /Make up my sum. /What wilt thou do for her?” (Act V: SceneI I. 263-265). This shows how not only Hamlet has effect on this but Ophelia as well in a way of being blind and oblivious to what really is going on. This is very important as it shows that the love Hamlet has for Ophelia is very strong, and love is a very important part in determining the human essence. It is not common to assume the same for other characters in these pieces selected. In the novel “The Great Gatsby” Gatsby has a secretive obsession for Daisy. The readers notice this because he is a very sincere man but rather obsesses over Daisy for different reasons. The readers may wonder how this can happen to someone so self centred, but it happens and we see how it works out for Gatsby. In the novel an example of this obsession is when the reader finds out that Gatsby has been spending many years of his life trying to become rich to impress Daisy. In which Gatsby's guest speculate he is a bootlegger, and we later find out that he has a past of illegal alcohol sales. Choosing what to say when, where, how and why is a major factor for humans. People react fast to events rather than reflect on how one should do something. In the drama “Hamlet” the advantage of death is a pole through human beings, the human essence of obsession, and love being a frequent position.

Humans are amazing, and each and every single one is unique, and a hero to someone. Human heroism is real and occurs everyday, and is seen this throughout the selections as readers discover characters personalities, lives, relationships and situations. Gatsby and Nick have a very unusual relationship, which explores the fact why Gatsby confides Nick throughout the novel. The readers notice this happening at the very end of the novel when Nick is the only one to show up to Gatsby's funeral considering to be his only friend. This is shocking to the readers because for many years Gatsby after many years always held huge parties and events, and those people used him, rather than to actually become friends with him. Nick was a true friend and the relationship between Nick and Gatsby was real. These characters were each their own heros and, the way things played out in their lives were the reasons for helping each other become better people who cared for each other. Each common character has a hero, and each hero has a reason for being the person they are. Hamlet opens up to Horatio in the play and readers notice this happening very slowly. This happening shows just how close their relationship really is, and how they counteract each others lives to make it worth it. Horatio is a loyal, honest, and kind friend for Hamlet to have. In the play when Hamlet learns his father was poisoned, Hamlet tells Horatio and Horatio swears to silence to keep Hamlets secret. When Hamlet says, “Haste me to know’t; that I, with wings as swift /As meditation or the thoughts of love,/ May sweep to my revenge ” (Act I: Scene V. 29-31). This quote shows the significance of Hamlet needing Horatio in his life, because Hamlet is lost and confused and wants to get revenge, but doesn't want to get hurt. Horatio and Nick are both examples in the main characters lives where heroism is believable and noticeable. Humans need people in order to live. Without love and affection one would be severely depressed and helpless. Readers acknowledge this state in both the drama “Hamlet“, and the novel “The Great Gatsby”. In classic literature this is an everyday appearance of hardship under human condition.

Although happiness and success is a very important part of the selections chosen, so is betrayal and anger. Readers can see betrayal through both love and hate. These motives reverse each other and can follow up to one another. Hate is an extremely strong word which can describe many dark circumstances. In the selections read there is a distinct hate on some very specific characters. In the play “Hamlet”, one discovers the hatred Hamlet had for his uncle. Hamlet hates his uncle because of the fact he literally married his mother. When Hamlet finds out that his uncle was in fact the one that killed his father, his hatred grows even more for his uncle. Through Hamlet's soliloquy spoken in act 1 scene 2, the readers understand why Hamlet was so saddened and upset by the death of his father saying, “O that this too too solid flesh would melt,/ Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!” (Act I: Scene II. 129-130). Hamlet feels betrayed and played by his own family. He does not know how to react to this happening so he simply reacts in a way of hate to try and overcome this situation. In the well-known novel, “The Great Gatsby”, Gatsby takes on a hate for Tom as the story progresses. The readers soon understand Gatsby's interesting way of thinking and may not agree with the thoughts of his ideas and concerns. Gatsby makes it very clear in the novel that the only reason he hates Tom is because Tom has everything that Gatsby wants. Tom and Gatsby have an ongoing conflict because of differences between the two men. The conflict between the two men is that they both want the same woman. We see this when Gatsby's parties become a routine every Saturday. The readers notice that the only reason for this is in hopes that Daisy will show up for Gatsby. Daisy kissed Gatsby in secret and confesses her love for him. The reader sees Gatsby trying to win over Daisy when he agrees to go to the city with her, but Tom decides to join them because of his suspicion. The betrayal is present and the readers notice this in the novel when Daisy says, “You always look so cool” (Fitzgerald 125). She then explains that she always loved him, and Tom Buchanan overheard this and was astounded. Tom being very surprised looking at both Gatsby and Daisy as though he thought he knew her a long time ago. Betrayal is a forced action in these situations and each character does not think before they act. Which as it does in most situations gets them in trouble one way or another. Like under most human tendencies to think before one acts.

In the events throughout “The Great Gatsby” and “Hamlet” the readers learn why characters do the things they do. Human condition, truth telling and honesty are big factors among some very specific characters throughout the drama and novel. Not only do the readers learn how the characters evolve through all situations but they explore the aspect of humanity through classical literature. The situations explained have shown why there are consequences for the actions people make, why people choose to follow a shallow nature, how betrayal is founded, why people choose to select what they want to know and what they do not, and how human heroism is a major factor through classic literature of the comparative truth of the human condition. The human tendencies to act the way people do is due to psychology of the human brain. Each and every person has their own opinions, values, and beliefs and the reflected choices that people make are subconsciously made from past factors, achievements, or withdrawals. Throughout classic literature this factor is a common understanding of characters evolving and behaving the way that they do.


  1. Jamie Grant. Similarities and Differences Between Hamlet and Gatsby. Prezi. December 19, 2014.
  2. Victor. HAMLET GATSBY Comparative. Scribd. March 1, 2015.
  3. Mary Sutton. Enotes. The Great Gatsby - What is the significance of Gatsby's obsession with Daisy and living in the past?. 2019.
  4. Jason Lulos. Enotes. Hamlet - In Act 5, Scene 1 of Hamlet, what does this mean: 'Forty thousand brothers / Could not, with all their quantity of love, / Make up my sum.' (quoted by Hamlet)?. 2019.
  5. Patricia Vineski. Shakespeare's Horatio: Character Analysis & Relationship with Hamlet. 2003 -2019.
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Gatsby and Hamlet VS Human Condition. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 5, 2024, from
“Gatsby and Hamlet VS Human Condition.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022,
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Gatsby and Hamlet VS Human Condition [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 29 [cited 2024 Mar 5]. Available from:
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