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Jay Gatsby and Willy Loman and The Causes of Their Downfalls

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Aleksandar Hemon a famous writer from Bosnia once said,“Belief and delusion are incestuous siblings.” In The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald and Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, not all characters are an open book. Some might have dark pasts, others could be living a second life birthed by themselves. Instances of these lies are like Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby, a man who claims to have come from a wealthy family from San Francisco, studied at Oxford, and often host glamorous parties at his mansion. In Death of a Salesman, there is Willy Loman a perceptibly hard worker, who is constantly boasting about his success in being the most renown salesman in America. Both men’s perception of whoever they are and what they believe is a sign of their constant delusions, which result in their debacle in life.

The downfall of Willy Loman and Jay Gatsby were caused by the loss of their identity and unrealistic desires. Willy Loman’s loss of identity has many factors, with such being that he lived in an alternate reality and that he was provided an ego boost. One of the few goals he thought he achieved was being a highly successful and affluent salesman. In the book Willy says, “ I never have to wait in line to see a buyer. Willy Loman is here!… That’s all they have to know, and I go right through”(Miller, 30). Willy is shown to have lost his identity as in his alternate reality, he believes he is the most recognized and successful salesman and that he makes more than enough money to support his family.

In reality, Willy is a detrimental asset to the company since he is getting little to no pay and is seemingly worthless. Most of Willy’s income actually comes from Charley, his only real friend, which shows that he lacks the ability to make a sufficient amount of income for his family. Soon after being fired from the company for asking to work in a different department, Willy’s confidence is shattered and this leads to his slow regression into depression, and realization of the real world. The Woman, someone who Willy was having an affair with, provides him with an ego boost as well as happiness, when she tells him, “ You do make me laugh. It’s good for me… And I think you’re a wonderful man,” and “‘(…) You just kill me, Willy. You kill me. And thanks for the stockings. I love a lot of stockings’”(Miller). Willy craves an ego boost in which The Woman provides him with as he lacks it in his true identity.

Furthermore, Willy’s betrayal of giving his wife’s stockings to the woman he has an affair with goes to show that he’s incompetent as a husband and father figure, which leads to his loss of identity as his ties to his family are loose. All of these fantasies were made up by Willy to provide an alternate reality to allow him to escape from his reality which creates a conflict of two worlds he’s living in, thus leading to the loss of his own identity. Jay Gatsby’s downfall brought about by his tendency to chase unrealistic desires, primarily in his pursuit of Daisy Buchanan. When Nick and Jordan were having a discussion revolving around Gatsby’s motive to move across from Daisy’s house, she says, “‘Gatsby bought that home so that Daisy would be just across the bay… But it wasn’t a coincidence at all’” (Fitzgerald). Gatsby reveals his unrealistic desires as he makes an impulsive decision by moving from his home in San Francisco to West Egg upon receiving word that Daisy, a girl that he left for years only to end up chasing again, had settled in East Egg. Despite not knowing of Daisy’s current status, he still decides to move closer to her. He also decides to move without having any connections with anybody in New York, essentially starting a new life with the sole purpose of getting Daisy.

Another example of Gatsby’s unrealistic desires was when Jordan explains, “‘He half expected her to wander into one of his parties one night’” (Fitzgerald). Regardless of Jordan’s undervalued perception of his love for Daisy, he still hosts glamorous parties on a daily basis in order to gain her attention. Disregarding his own logic and what others assess from his actions, his wishes in order to be Daisy again are all riding on this false hope that he has set out for himself, and in the end, his downfall.

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