The Multiple Personalities of the Great Gatsby

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As part of our build-up to the 2014 Oscars, we are looking at the films likely to take home some of the top awards. Here, Erik Redli examines the parallels seen in The Great Gatsby with other leading characters in film and television.

The Great Gatsby starts with a black and white Warner Brothers logo just like it would have in the 1920s. I was curious; another tragic story starring DiCaprio.

The story is narrated by Nick Carraway, a young man who has just moved into a small house right next to Gatsby's castle. Ambitious and reverent, he is often a timeless witness to the caprice of the upper classes and eventually he runs away from what he initially pursued.

The mysterious Gatsby does not appear during the first 30 minutes of the movie. Instead the other characters recall his parties and charm, intensifying the expectations of both Nick and the audience. All of a sudden, he appears from the cover of a crowd dancing to the modern soundtrack of Fergie's Little Party Killed Nobody.

Gatsby is the first awesome character, almost like Barney Stinson in New York City 90 years later in How I Met Your Mother. Both of them waste money on fancy clothes and luxury. However, both of them also pursue a certain goal. As we soon learn, Gatsby was in love with a woman, Daisy, who rejected his proposal because he was poor. He left for the army, but still fostered the hope that one day Daisy - in the meantime married - would change her mind.

Gatsby and Barney Stinson

Barney Stinson also lost his love - she eloped with a financial shark, upon which he swore revenge. But instead of one object of desire, he pays his defiant revenge on the whole breed of attractive women. That Gatsby really loved Daisy is obvious from his behaviour once they arrange a meeting. All of a sudden, the zany good sport changes into a shy, awkward patron. A similar change can be seen when Barney is interrogated over his feelings for Robin.

Gatsby tries to hide his true identity under the luxury of his castle. It resembles the mansion where Batman's alter ego Bruce Wayne retreats after each mission. Indeed, Gotham city was modelled on New York, where Gatsby spent the nights out in the company of suspicious criminals. Both of them confessed to a crime they did not commit, in order to protect their loved ones.

Gatsby and Batman

Another character that should be mentioned at this point comes straight from the wand of the Harry Potter series. Severus Snape loved Harry's mother so much that he gave away her secret, hoping that Lord Voldemort would do away with her husband. However, the Dark Lord killed both and the remorse Snape felt chased him forever, reverberating in the scar on Harry's head.

Nevertheless, he faced the responsibility and underwent his most dangerous mission of all. Throughout the series, we blamed Snape for hatred, betrayal and treason- an inevitable part of the purgatory of the archetypal tragic hero.

Gatsby and Snape

Therefore, in Gatsby we can see all the three characters I have spoken of. From a tragic hero disappointed in his search for love because he holds the ‘wrong company' (like Snape) he leaves for adventure. In five years, he works up to the positive hero, ‘a good sport' boasting around the bars like Barney. However, his timeless desire fuelled by the simple-minded conformity of Daisy turns him into a negative hero just like Batman.

Exceeding the expectations, Great Gatsby will please everyone, not only the conceited watcher who discovers stories within the story.

Erik Redli is a university graduate from Slovakia who lived in London for much of his graduate life. Read more of his posts here.

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