All of us have ideas of what we want our lives to be. These ideas sometimes develop into dreams in our sleep or complaints against how things really are, but hardly ever do events play out exactly how we plan them. More often everything rushes in the opposite direction, disappointing us, and generally wrecking havoc on our puny little ideals. Luckily, there are some like Jay Gatsby of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, who have invented new realities. They not only invent, but dwell in them so completely that their realities are the reality. These people have found a way to make all that happens to and around them fit into their fantasy worlds, not disproving but carrying along many of their disillusions. This is often accomplished by surrounding themselves with people who want to believe in their dreams, who willingly lend themselves to the tailoring of their fantasies. All of the characters in The Great Gatsby are guilty of this to some degree but none more than Gatsby himself. He is the only one with neither foot on terra firma, believing all of his own conception. Gatsby lives by looking at his life through a foggy window, through a dream that is enviable and just that + a dream, a personal conception of reality.
Everyone wishes that their realities went all the way like Gatsby+s, that they could live things out as they imagined. It is for this reason that people write and read books like Peter Pan, with all their talk of Never Neverland. We simply do not thoroughly enjoy the cards that are dealt us. Even Nick (the sometimes disputed main character of The Great Gatsby) allows himself to be a bystander, lending himself to the perpetuance of Gatsby+s fantasy. He wishes that he could let his feet leave the ground too. Nick even describes Gatsby+s dream as an “orgastic future” (page 189) and says of Gatsby himself that “there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promise of life+this responsiveness+was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person” (page 6). These are not the words of someone who looks down at another+s dreamer tendencies. Rather, Nick seems to admire Gatsby, even having his own daydreams, though his aren+t all consuming. “I liked to walk up fifth street and pick out a romantic women from the crowd and imagine that in a few minutes I was going to enter into their lives+sometimes, in my mind, I followed them to their apartments+” (Page 61).
Poor Gatsby was the only character in the novel who didn+t understand that his dream was just a dream, no more real than the boogey man. He had created his whole life on the idea that Daisy would still be in love with him when he came to claim her. He did everything with Daisy in mind: the parties, the house, even moving to New York, all for her. As Jordan says when Nick remarks on the coincidence of Gatsby+s living so close to the object of his affection, “Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay.” (Page 83), going on to say, “he half expected to see her wander into one of his parties” (page 84). What poor Gatsby doesn+t account for in all this planning is that maybe Daisy doesn+t want to leave her life for him. She+s got a marriage and a child now and is well established where she is. All of that could be lost if she goes with Gatsby. She even admits to him that she loves him but says that she also loves Tom, her husband. “I love you now+isn+t that enough?+I did love him once+but I loved you too.” (Page 140). In the end, Daisy stays with Tom, while Gatsby tries to convince himself that she always did and still needs him. “Of course she might have loved him, just for a minute, when they were first married+and loved me more even then” (Page159). Gatsby loved Daisy to the death. And even at the end, he couldn+t see that his love for her was none other than the love of a dreamlike image. As Nick comments, “he had committed himself to the following of a grail” (Page 156). Even the description of Daisy and Gatsby+s first kiss hint at the nature of their relationship, a transient dreamlike one. “he forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath” (Page 117).
None of the events in the story, real events, could shake Gatsby from his dream. His dream did kill him, but he was “faithful to the end” (Page 104), and even so, his ability to dream, to be lost in a fantasy was admirable if not enviable. Gatsby had a direction, a goal in his life. Few people can argue that they truly have the sort of inspiration that he did regardless of the basis of his goal. And even though his complete adult life was witnessed through the haziness of his dream, we can say that the very “talent” that brought him down was enviable.