Examples of Vices in The Great Gatsby

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About this sample


Words: 746 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 746|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a classic American novel that explores themes of wealth, love, and the pursuit of the American Dream. Set during the Roaring Twenties, the story follows Jay Gatsby, a mysterious millionaire who throws lavish parties in hopes of winning back the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan. While Gatsby is portrayed as a charming and enigmatic character, he is not without his flaws. This essay will examine several examples of vices displayed by Jay Gatsby throughout the novel, shedding light on the darker aspects of his character and their implications on the story as a whole.

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One of Gatsby's most prominent vices is his obsession with wealth and material possessions. From the moment he sets his eyes on Daisy, his sole motivation becomes acquiring enough wealth to impress her. This is evident in the extravagant parties he throws at his mansion, where wealth and opulence are on full display. For Gatsby, material possessions are not just a means to an end; they are an end in themselves. This obsession with wealth blinds him to the realities of life and prevents him from achieving true happiness.

Supporting evidence from the text:

"His house had never seemed so enormous to me as it did that night when we hunted through the great rooms for cigarettes. We pushed aside curtains that were like pavilions, and felt over innumerable feet of dark wall for electric light switches – once I tumbled with a sort of splash upon the keys of a ghostly piano. There was an inexplicable amount of dust everywhere, and the rooms were musty, as though they hadn't been aired for many days." (Fitzgerald 42)


This passage illustrates the excessive nature of Gatsby's wealth. His house is described as enormous, with extravagant curtains and innumerable rooms. However, the dust and mustiness hint at the emptiness and lack of fulfillment that comes with materialism. Gatsby's obsession with wealth blinds him to the true value of life, leading to his ultimate downfall.

In his pursuit of Daisy, Gatsby resorts to manipulation and deceit, revealing another vice in his character. He fabricates an elaborate backstory and reinvents himself as a self-made man to impress Daisy and win her affection. This manipulation not only reveals Gatsby's desperate desire for acceptance but also highlights his willingness to compromise his integrity to achieve his goals.

Supporting evidence from the text:

"I suppose he'd had the name ready for a long time, even then. His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people – his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all. The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself." (Fitzgerald 98)


This passage sheds light on Gatsby's desire to distance himself from his humble origins and create a new identity for himself. By inventing a more impressive backstory, Gatsby manipulates others' perceptions of him, further emphasizing his vice of deception. This manipulation ultimately proves to be his downfall, as it prevents him from forming genuine connections and leads to the exposure of his true identity.

Another vice displayed by Gatsby is his unhealthy obsession with the past. He becomes fixated on rekindling his relationship with Daisy, despite the fact that she has moved on and married another man. Gatsby's inability to let go of the past and accept the reality of the present showcases his unwillingness to confront the truth and his constant yearning for something that is no longer attainable.

Supporting evidence from the text:

"Can't repeat the past? Why of course you can!" (Fitzgerald 110)


This quote encapsulates Gatsby's belief that he can recreate the past and recapture the love he once shared with Daisy. However, this mindset is ultimately futile and destructive. Gatsby's obsession with the past prevents him from living in the present and enjoying the fleeting moments of happiness that life has to offer. His inability to let go ultimately leads to his tragic demise.


In conclusion, The Great Gatsby presents several examples of vices displayed by Jay Gatsby throughout the novel. His obsession with wealth and materialism, manipulation and deceit, and unhealthy obsession with the past all contribute to his downfall. These vices not only reveal the darker aspects of Gatsby's character but also serve as cautionary tales about the dangers of pursuing the American Dream at any cost. By examining these vices, readers are forced to confront the consequences of their own actions and consider the true meaning of happiness and fulfillment.


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Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Scribner, 1925.

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Examples of Vices in The Great Gatsby. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 20, 2024, from
“Examples of Vices in The Great Gatsby.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
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