Who Is A Self-Reliant Individual In The Great Gatsby

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In the novel The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jay Gatsby, the protagonists, is not a self-reliant man, according to the qualifications outlined by Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay “Self-Reliance”. In “Self-Reliance,” Emerson describes four essential characteristics of a self-reliant individual. First, Emerson claims that a self-reliant individual does not care about society’s opinions and, therefore, does not seek the approval of others. Additionally, Emerson points out that a person who connects to nature is more likely to achieve self-reliance than a person distant from nature. Furthermore, Emerson explains that a self-reliant individual should feel no need to travel because they are content with who and where they are. Lastly, Emerson explains that a self-reliant individual does not…show more content…
Emerson writes, “He who travels to be amused, or to get somewhat which he does not carry, travels away from himself, and grows old even in youth among old things.”(p.12) Emerson explains that traveling for a non-enriching purpose distances a person from his character and prevents him from achieving self reliance. Gatsby’s travels serve as a means to reinvent himself and thus inhibit him from being self-reliant. Fitzgerald writes, “The arrangement lasted five years, during which the boat went three times around the Continent.” (p.100) When Gatsby boards Dan Cody’s yacht, he travels with Cody for years. Gatsby learns from Cody how rich men act and how to conduct himself. Rather than using his travels to further develop his character, Gatsby invents a new identity. Likewise, once Gatsby becomes successful and wealthy, he demonstrates his obsession with traveling and his discontent with local resources by sending people across the world to build his wardrobe. Gatsby’s inclination to travel, highlights his lack of self-reliance according to the qualifications of
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