Self Reliance In The Great Gatsby

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In the novel The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jay Gatsby is not a representation of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s self-reliant individual according to his essay, “Self- Reliance”. Gatsby, the novel’s protagonist, is, rather, a romantic dreamer that is a perversion of the self-reliant man. Throughout the novel, Fitzgerald conveys that Gatsby does not possess the correct qualities and beliefs that Emerson attributes to a self-reliant man. Emerson believes that self-reliant men are not materialistic, do not feel the need to travel often, trust themselves completely, and can accomplish self-fulfillment without help from others. Since Gatsby fails to adhere to these qualities of a self-reliant man, he is a romantic dreamer that is not self-reliant. In his essay, Emerson describes the quality of materialism and suggests that a self-reliant man must not be materialistic, and this is a fault of Gatsby that is expressed in the novel. Emerson believes that materialism leads people to belittle their own value due to the misguided importance of extravagance, and writes, “Let a man then know his worth, and keep things under his feet,” (p. 6). He condemns materialism and explains that the true value of a person is found in his morals and not the amount of expensive items he possesses. This flaw of excessive materialism that prevents self-reliance is displayed by Gatsby as he constantly boasts about his wealth. As an adult, he throws lavish parties in his mansion, but his obsession with
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