A Character Analysis of Gatsby

Bill McAneny's picture
Published on Fri, 05/10/2013 - 15:56 by Bill McAneny

Champagne towerThe charismatic, enigmatic, introvert

An analysis of Gatsby reveals one of the most charismatic characters but we only truly learn about him as the story unfolds. His charisma shines even before anyone knows or has even met him, enigmatic and difficult to know. In retrospect that author describes him this way: “If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away.”

He leaves a void which others are desperate to fill with their own subjective assumptions: “Well, they say he’s a nephew or a cousin of Kaiser Wilhelm’s. That’s where all his money comes from.” “It’s more that he was a German spy during the war…I heard that from a man who knew all about him, grew up with him in Germany.” “Oh no, it couldn’t be that, because he was in the American army during the war.’ 

The stuff of legends: everyone has a view, but no-one ‘knows’ him. Although Gatsby appears later he has already permeated the set just by the sheer fascination people have for him. ‘”I’m Gatsby,’ he said suddenly.” Despite all the build up, conjecture and gossip, Nick didn’t realise it was Gatsby he was speaking with. Those who accepted Gatsby’s hospitality “…paid him the subtle tribute of knowing nothing whatever about him.” Our character analysis of Gatsby suggests an enigmatic introvert.

The patient visionary

Gatsby, despite his modest background, perhaps because of it, transforms all his dreams into reality. He desires three things: wealth, acceptance and the driver in both of these: Daisy. His idealistic nature invests Daisy with qualities that do not match up with the reality of her selfish, shallow and condescending personality. Gatsby has great ideals and tremendous passion but these were subjugated to the relentless single-minded task of acquiring wealth, just so he could feel worthy of Daisy’s love. Our character analysis of Gatsby suggests an intuitive visionary.

The love-struck ingénue

All Gatsby’s lies and deception is all to win Daisy’s heart. He refuses to leave Daisy behind, all he ever wanted was for Daisy to see him as worthy of her even though she is a selfish, shallow individual. In chapter five he displays an uncharacteristic nervousness and clumsiness when he is about to meet Daisy again. Even though it is what he wants most in the world, even though he has planned everything for this moment, his nervousness is apparent. With everyone else Gatsby projects cool and in control, but with Daisy he reverts to the love-struck kid she first met in Louisville. Our character analyses of Gatsby suggests an emotional, feeling type

The relentless planner

Gatsby is a man who makes things happen, a true visionary but with a relentless ambition: a man with a plan. Everything he has done is all part of the plan to re-enact the ideal, his relationship with Daisy. At Gatsby’s funeral his father shows Nick young Gatsby’s self-improvement “SCHEDULE” which even indicates what time he should get up each morning and includes some “GENERAL RESOLVES,” ie general principles, the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ about how he should live his life. Our character analysis suggests a Judging, relentless planner, driven by a single goal.

So we see Gatsby as a charismatic, enigmatic, patient, visionary, a long-range planner who does all this for the idealistic love of a woman whom he both idolises and idealises; he does not see her for what she really is. So what character type do we think Gatsby is? INFJ. What do you think? Do you see any other examples of his personality? Or perhaps you see him as a different Jungian Type? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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