The Great Narcissist: a study of Fitzgerald’s Gatsby

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James Sykes

Mr. Jennings

Honors Eng III


The Great Narcissist

Giles Mitchell’s, “The Great Narcissist: A Study of Fitzgerald’s Gatsby”, claims that the novel contains insuperable evidence that Gatsby is a pathological narcissist who by the end of the book has lost his will to live. Which, in theory, cannot possibly be true considering the evidence of which Gatsby had been murdered, rather than committed suicide. Mitchell uses the themes of perfection and omnipotence in Gatsby’s character, and then describes his unique character by “diagnosing” Gatsby with narcissism through a psychological perspective. Gatsby has made “grandiose” lies about his life to make himself seem as if it is perfection. With that comes a “poor sense of reality, [and] sense of entitlement.” (Giles 1). Finally, the claim had been made that all these characteristics of Gatsby have helped explain the central theme of this Criticism essay, in that Gatsby had lost the will to live by the end of the novel. Although I agree with the idea of Gatsby being a narcissist, I have to disagree with the idea of him “losing the will to live”, because I didn’t see Gatsby as “suicidal” near the end of the novel. I do agree, however, with the psychological perspective that Mitchell conveyed on Gatsby. It really does shine a new light on Gatsby, and the typical characteristics given to him. Mitchell has taken a look from a different perspective, a purely psychological viewpoint to show the medical side to Gatsby’s character.

Mitchell discusses Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, and uses the phase “ego-ideal” to establish meaning to the part of the superego that includes the rules and standards for good behaviors (Meyers book for AP 361)ONLY CITE AUTHOR AND PAGE NUMBER UNLESS CITING FROM LIT.CRIT. AND THEN SHOW IT’S FROM THE LIT CRIT. . Freud uses the ID, EGO, and SUPEREGO to identify the parts of the unconscious and conscious (Meyers 362). However, Mitchell portrays the narcissist as making the ego-ideal inflated and destructive because it is filled with images of “perfection and omnipotence” (Jasovic-Gasic and Vesel, 1981, p.371), a perfect depiction of Gatsby. Throughout the novel, Gatsby strives for perfection through Daisy, who five years ago he believed to be the idealized version of perfection. BUT THE NARCISSIST’S IDEAL OF PERFECTION IS HIM/HERSELF, TRUE? But five years later, once reunited, he come to facts that Daisy is not perfection anymore. She is married, with a child, and loves her current husband. Flawed, Gatsby lets go by not caring anymore and tries to find perfection within something else.<--HOW SO? “Another major theme in Gatsby’s ego-ideal is omnipotence,” CS Mitchell then argues that it is expressed in his belief that as a “son of god” Gatsby believes he can control time. I agree with this statement because in the novel nick states that “You can’t change the past” and Gatsby replied with, “Why, of course you can!”CITE PAGE # Assuming that he can control time by himself. I also agree with Mitchell when discussing the psychological perspective of Gatsby, and relating Gatsby to Freud’s Psychoanalytic theory by suggesting that Gatsby’s ego-ideal is filled with thoughts of perfection. After studying Frued’s theory for awhile I got a great understanding of how the Psychoanalytic theory works with the ideas behind the ID, EGO, and superego. Gatsby truly portrays one with an “ego- ideal” of perfection.

“Upon meeting and falling in love with Daisy, Gatsby ‘committed himself to the following of a grail,’ the ‘green light’ that symbolizes the idealized Daisy.” Mitchell’s looks at the green light at the end of the Buchanan’s dock, a symbol of the idealized Daisy. I do not agree with this statement. There is no evidence in proving his theory.<--WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE YOUR CRITIC PRESENTS? I believe that the green light represents something, that no matter how far Gatsby’s attempts to reach out for Daisy, nothing will come of it. BRING A WARRANT HERE. HOW DOES THE EVIDENCE IN THE FOLLOWING SENTENCE SHOW THIS CLAIM TO BE TRUE?--> There is evidence for this in the fact that Nick watched as early in the summer Gatsby stood out at the end of his dock and lifted his hands up to the green light across the bay. As if he was reaching out for Daisy. I do not agree with the idea of Gatsby’s “Self- worship”, and the thought of him representing Egotheism. Egotheism is self-deification or the elevation of oneself to the status of a god. Gatsby did not look at himself as a status of God or anything holy. IN PREVIOUS PAR., HAVEN’T YOU STATED THE CLAIM GATSBY SEES HIMSELF AS OMNIPOTENT IS VALID? All he wanted was Daisy, or the depiction of Daisy in his mind. He was a narcissist in means of him always wanting perfection, but lacks “godly status”. To me, someone who is an egotheist is someone who talks highly of themselves and it always holding themselves superior to others. Gatsby came off as a good man, not one to hold himself over others, especially coming from dirt poor. GOOD POINT HERE. CAN YOU DEVELOP THIS?

“People with narcissistic personality disorders feel entitled to have what they want just because they want it” (198, p.67). Mitchell acknowledges the point that Gatsby evinces no conscious sense of guilt for deceiving Daisy. He also shows no sign of remorse for urging Daisy to marry him- to marry into a life of criminal activities. I agree with this statement by Mitchell. If narcissism is defined as one who wants things just for the plain fact that they want it, then Gatsby is the perfection depiction.<--GOOD.

Gatsby’s sense of entitlement is a major force in his character. Gatsby’s entitlement justifies his grandiosity as well as his exploitiveness, Mitchell states. The most known grandiosity by Gatsby had to do with his parentage, which “his imagination had never really accepted.” Instead, he “sprang from his platonic conception of himself. He was a son of god- a phrase which, if anything , means just that.”

Gatsby is extremely dishonest and manipulative with daisy both when he first meets her and later when they are reunited. He tells her lies of a most serious nature in defending himself against Tom’s revelations about how Gatsby has made his money. In short, Mitchell states, “in asking Daisy to leave Tom, he is being morally devious.” Gatsby lies to Daisy because she is the idealized object of his projection and therefore not real. I agree with Mitchel’s statement because morally it is devious. Cheating on a loved one and persuading one to leave their spouse is unethical and wrong in the past and in this day in age. .

Intimacy, as Mitchel describes it, means knowing and being known, and Gatsby does not want Daisy to know him, he is a criminal with a poor education and a background of impoverished, “shiftless and unsuccessful farm people.” Gatsby does not want to know the real Daisy, he wants to know the Daisy he met five years ago, the daisy who didn’t have a husband, a child, another love. The real daisy(ETC) runs far away from the scene of her crime and does not even bother to call Gatsby to say good-bye. Although she can weep over Gatsby’s display of shirts, the real daisy has, “impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire.” Gatsby describes Tom’s and Daisy’s love as “just personal”. This all makes sense, in the sense of Gatsby wanted to keep Daisy out of his “personal life”. This really makes me believe that Gatsby doesn’t really truly love Daisy. In relationships today, couples need to know everything about each other. Not necessarily what they ate for breakfast, but if they are involved in drug crimes and illegal distribution of alcohol it’s probably necessary to discuss that. And if they aren’t willing to share then the relationship is bound to fail anyway, making it lust rather than love. Thus making me believe that Gatsby’s “love” wasn’t true. EXCELLENT DEFENSE OF YOUR CLAIM HERE.

Finally, Mitchel argues that Gatsby tells nick of all his lies and reveals the truth about his life because he has given up, lost all hope, and that nothing he says suggests remorse. His revelations are, on the most imple and important level, an acknowledgement that he as “paid too high a price for living with a single dream…” The price Gatsby has paid for his extremely narcissistic dream is the form of emotional suicide. He is now unable to care, at all, about his life. To me this sound completely unreasonable. Gatsby did not commit suicide or think about committing suicide, and this no way does the novel acknowledge the fact that he does. Gatsby was murdered by George Wilson, not in his own hands. DOES MITCHEL CLAIM GATSBY IS “EMOTIONALLY” SUICIDAL? HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT?

Gile’s Mitchel’s “Gatsby as a pathological Narcissist”, claims that the novel contains insuperable evidence that Gatsby is a pathological narcissist who by the end of the book has lost his will to live. I agreed with the idea of Gatsby as a pathological narcissist, but not with the idea that he committed emotional suicide. Gatsby had the idea that everything in his life had to be perfect. His job, his house, his lover, and himself. He worked on himself and the things around him until he met that sort of standard of perfection. But, as always, perfection is in the eyes of the beholder. Daisy fell short of that standard, so Gatsby moved on. HOW SO? Yet, that doesn’t mean that he committed suicide. Being a Narcissist doesn’t make all hope forever lost, it just means you are striving for that standard of perfection. Maybe Mitchell looked at Gatsby too closely and overanalyzed the situation of his death, when really he was a victim of chance.

JAMES: Strong engagement with a complex text. For revision, start with clarifying 2 points of contention with the literary criticism’s claims to strengthen ideas. 1: is Giles’ claim Gatsby sees himself as omnipotent and god-like accurate? At times you seem to say this is a valid claim and at others you say it’s not. Can one see himself as god-like and not omnipotent or vice versa? 2: If Giles makes the claim Gatsby is “emotionally suicidal” that won’t necessarily mean he claims he was physically suicidal. One can lose the will and desire to live and not kill oneself, true? If not true, bring more evidence to support this claim. Once these points are worked out, read aloud one time to catch awkward or wordy phrasing (italicized) and go over with a fine tooth comb for conventions (Daisy vs. daisy, etc.). One revision away from a really strong analysis--let’s keep working on this is we can.

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