Fear in the Great Gatsby

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In the novel The Great Gatsby the author uses various character’s fear to motivate them and manipulate their understanding of their place in American Society.

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Throughout the novel Gatsby’s defining characteristic is hope, no matter what happens Gatsby always thinks it will get better. So it is only natural that his greatest fear is not being able to achieve his goals. We see this in the way he talks about his childhood so critically, his parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people (p.98) so we know why he is so hopeful, he doesn’t want to be a Mr. Nobody from Nowhere (p.130) like his parents. Gatsby’s greatest fear is shown when people say something along the lines of you can’t do this, showing ‘You can’t repeat the past.’ ‘Can’t repeat the past?’ he cried incredulously. ‘Why of course you can!’ (p.110)

Tom Buchanan’s fear is having to compete with opposing forces such as Jay Gatsby and losing his social status. Tom feels as though he must assert himself to solve his problems. He feels threatened by romantics, such as Gatsby, who had started as a poor no name and worked his way to be a wealthy man.

People like Gatsby are a threat to the wealthy and Tom’s perception of a superior wealthy class. Gatsby’s supposed life story goes against what Tom believes is supposed to happen, a poor kid that became rich goes against Tom’s belief that people that only people born into riches should keep them. Buchanan is not only threatened by Gatsby’s mindset, but also he is threatened by Gatsby’s attempts to woo Daisy. Buchanan’s fear is pushed to its peak when he indirectly murders Gatsby. He notifies Wilson of Gatsby’s location; fully knowing that Wilson would murder him.

Thus, this instance proves that one of his motivations stem from fear because he maliciously eliminated a threat (Gatsby) to protect his own social construct from being contaminated.

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Fear In The Great Gatsby. (2019, Mar 26). Retrieved December 5, 2022 , from

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