Love is an essential part of life. Every individual wants to be loved, and needs someone to love. It is an element that is fundamental to the well-being of all human kind; it is that magic that can heal wounds. However love also has the capacity to traumatize a person if it is extracted from their life. While we all wish to experience love, many of us tend to find the often inevitable detachment to be quite painful. In the novel The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby’s longing for Daisy Buchanan leads him to his own downfall.
Similarly in the novel Hamlet, Hamlet’s extreme love for his father and his hatred towards his mother play a major role in his tragedy. In these works, there are a number of motivating factors that contribute to the downfall of the main characters- obsession, hatred, and the wanting to be accepted – but ultimately it is love that leads to the demise of Gatsby and Hamlet. Hamlet loved his father, King Hamlet, and it was his death that broke young Hamlet’s heart. It is the love he had for his father that brought him to his doom. After King Hamlet’s death he appeared as a ghost moving through the castle at one o’clock every morning.
When the guards and Horatio, Hamlet’s best friend, noticed this ghostly figure, Horatio quite intelligently believed that he could get the ghost to speak with Hamlet. The next day the two guards, Horatio, and young Hamlet were present to speak to the ghost of King Hamlet. The ghost told Hamlet that he was murdered by Claudius, his brother, who had been sworn in as the new king and married his wife, Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude. After hearing this, young Hamlet was asked to avenge his father’s death, but in doing so his mother was to remain unharmed.
Hamlet, being the loving and devoted son he was, and unable to accept Claudius as the leader to replace his father, accepted King Hamlet’s request. After this encounter, young Hamlet refused to tell the guardsman and Horatio what happened but made it known that he would act like a madman and they were not to say why. Claudius soon became suspicious of young Hamlet’s moodiness and began to spy on him through Guildenstern and Rosencrantz. They believe it is because Ophelia, his former lover, left upon words of her father. Hamlet procrastinated in the killing of Claudius as he waited for his confession.
Hoping to inspire a confession, Young Hamlet puts on a play that resembles what truly happened to King Hamlet to catch the conscious of Claudius. But more truthfully, Hamlet sought to prove to his mother that she was wrong in her actions after her husband’s death. Hamlet later sees Claudius alone praying, and although he would have been an easy target, Hamlet refrains from killing him then because he believed that Claudius should be able to make peace with God and go to heaven upon his death. In reality, Claudius was not indeed praying, and thus Hamlet missed his only opportunity to avenge his father’s death.
This event ultimately led to Hamlet’s own death when Claudius realized Hamlet’s motives and wanted to get rid of him. Hamlet’s love for his father drove him to lose his love, Ophelia, his friends, and his life. Hamlet and Gatsby are similar in that they are willing to go through so much to the point where it leads to their death, so as to bring happiness to those whom they love. Being accepted by “old money” was very important to Jay Gatsby. He thought that if he was accepted by this elite group he will be able to win over Daisy, the woman he had come to love.
Yet his unwillingness to trust himself and to be proud of who he was lead to his downfall. Despite his efforts to fit in, the elites knew that he was nothing more than a bootlegger. They would make mock him behind his back, talk about how he did not actually attend Oxford, and laugh at how he really became rich. Gatsby would try to impress them with his luxurious weekly parties, which he hoped would help him fit in while attracting Daisy. Gatsby shows off his wealth to demonstrate his influence and luxurious lifestyle, while demonstrating that he has plenty of money to spend on Daisy.
All the while, he does not see what other truly think of him. For example, Tom once stopped by Gatsby’s house with his friends for some drinks at which Gatsby became nervous and agitated. He tells Tom awkwardly that he knows Daisy, and invites Tom and the Sloan’s to dinner. Rejecting his invitation, they ask insincerely if he would like to join them to which Gatsby unknowingly accepts, not realizing that they have no interest in him at all. Gatsby is so eager to be with them, fixated on his goal to be a part of the “old money” group of East Egg in order to show Daisy that he is worthy of her and able to support her.
He is so in love with Daisy that it is blinds his judgement. If Gatsby had focused on being himself instead of trying to be accepted he would have made fewer enemies, and perhaps won over Daisy. Gatsby was driven by his love for Daisy, and was single-minded about how to get her. He did not realize that loving Daisy is all that he became concerned with and that it consumed him. Gatsby truly believed that if the “old money” of East Egg accepted him he would win her over but it was this unhealthy single focus, and his inability to trust that he could simply be himself, which caused his downfall.
Meanwhile, Hamlet loved his father and when he found out he died it hurt him deeply. But moreover, it hurt young Hamlet’s heart more when he found out his mom married Claudius. It his Hamlet’s undying love for his father and his lost love for his mother that brought about his madness, and ultimately his death. In conclusion, Hamlet and Jay Gatsby are very similar to one another in that they both let their emotions control them. They have no sense of self control and die because of it. Tragically, they could have gotten what they wanted if they just were themselves and if they were able to not let their emotions get the best of them.
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