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The Great Gatsby By Scott Fitzgerald: Empathy For The Main Character

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A novel in which I felt sorry for the main character is ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F Scott Fitzgerald. The novel depicts the story of a delusional, hopeless individual blinded by his dream, believing he can bridge the gap between the contrasting social classes in 1920s America, eventually leading to his demise. The author prompts the reader to feel compassion for the protagonist, Jay Gatsby, through his extensive use of techniques such as characterisation, imagery and themes.

Contrary to majority of novels, the reader does not get to meet the protagonist right away until numerous chapters into the story. However, constant use of narrative and characterisation creates a lifelike figure shrouded in mystery up until he makes an appearance. Throughout the novel there are flashbacks gradually revealing who Gatsby really was at his core, a driven and devoted man chasing an unattainable dream. The result of Fitzgerald’s techniques is a character with depth that causes the reader to feel something inside when his downfall occurs.

One of Gatsby’s most striking qualities is his resilience, going above and beyond for what he desires. The author makes us aware of the lengths Gatsby has and will go to in order to attract Daisy’s attention, which ultimately lead to the end of their relationship. From the grand mansion to his illegal bootlegging operations, Gatsby’s entire life became dedicated in a bid to secure Daisy’s heart. It seems there are no lengths he will not go to in order to recapture her love. Preoccupied with his ineffective attempts to meet Daisy, Gatsby resorts to throwing lavish parties in the hopes that one day Daisy may be intrigued enough to stop by. The reader cannot help but pity a man who had completely reinvented himself in order to reach his goal, believing his poor social status to be the root of the struggle.

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Whenever a novel is narrated in the first person by one of the characters, a crucial question for the reader is if what they say can be trusted and deemed reliable. With Nick Caraway in this role he certainly is not present during every event as well as potentially being biased at times, obscuring the truth. Nevertheless, through his point of view we can see Gatsby go from the mysterious party host to loving admirer to the ultimate casualty. Throughout this journey Nick does not hesitate to highlight Gatsby’s consistent ill treatment from others, at times making him appear pathetic as he himself consciously welcomes it when he decides to take responsibility for Myrtle’s death. “But of course I'll say I was,” shows how it was practically an instinct of Gatsby’s to preserve Daisy without further thought. The Buchanan’s malicious exploitation of Gatsby’s pure heartedness yet again elevates him in the reader’s eyes.

Fitzgerald uses Gatsby's parties to expose Gatsby's isolation which leads us to feel sympathy towards him. Despite the excessive amount of people at his parties, Nick observes Gatsby's isolation and solitude, 'My eyes fell to Gatsby, standing alone on the marble steps'. Furthermore, individuals attending the parties almost never interact with or even acknowledge the host’s existence, only being there for the materialistic possessions and lavish lifestyle he has. It is now clear that Gatsby is engulfed in loneliness, evoking a sense of grief when it is revealed that he met his demise, shot dead in his pool, alone. Just like he always was. The reader’s sympathy towards Gatsby is amplified when we discover that no one appears for his funeral apart from his father and Nick, even his supposed friend and business partner, Mayor Wolfsheim does not make an effort to attend.

‘The Great Gatsby’ by F Scott Fitzgerald presents to us a not so glorious view of The American Dream often left unexplored, while also making the reader feel empathy for the main character in this novel. By utilising various language techniques along with constructing an authentic character that becomes so determined to reach his dreams resulting in him no longer alive in the end, Fitzgerald successfully induces sympathetic feelings from readers towards Jay Gatsby.

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The Great Gatsby By Scott Fitzgerald: Empathy For The Main Character. (2021, July 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 9, 2023, from
“The Great Gatsby By Scott Fitzgerald: Empathy For The Main Character.” Edubirdie, 18 Jul. 2021,
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