“Romantic Fools” By Mike Tardiff Essay, Research Paper
Jay Gatsby from Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Don Quixote from Cervantes’ Don Quixote de la Mancha were two quite disillusioned men. They were both perplexed in a self-constructed world of heroism and fantasy alternating into reality. Don Quixote was a dreamer, one who beyond all enjoyed a good adventure. Jay Gatsby was also a dreamer who believed that he could “Repeat the past, of course”(111). Collectively they were too pre-occupied with their own fantastic image to fathom reality.
Following insanity from misreading tales of chivalry, Don Quixote abandons his home to search for adventure on the highways and in the rural landscape of imperial Spain. Don Quixote leaves his small village in La Mancha to voyage to the forests of the Sierra Morena, and then returns to his village where he recuperates from exhaustion and various and sundry injuries. He encounters other characters at roadside inns, which in his madness he believes to be castles. His goal is to right all manners of wrongs and to gain fame for his valorous deeds. Don Quixote lived in a time much more current than his fantasy. He believed that all of his deeds were dedicated to a girl whom he gave the name Dulcinea. Quixote was under the influence that Dulcinea was his maiden and that he was a knight fighting for her honor. In reality Aldonza Lorenzo, the woman he referred to as Dulcinea, wanted nothing to do with this rustic and confounded man. He was a very noble and romantic hero in the aspect that embarked on a voyage in the name of his damsel. The voyage was futile yet the purpose was, in his mind, very heroic. What makes him very noble is the fact that he was devoted to giving her pride and honor at any cost, but what makes him tragic is that the deeds he performed were aimless and embarrassing.
Jay Gatsby was, like Quixote, a tragic yet romantic fool. He devoted his life to the pursuit of a girl. He once had a romantic relationship with Daisy Faye when he was James Gatz, an unfortunate man. He fell in love with a girl who was in love with money, an element that Jay Gatz did not possess. She then walked out of his life. Gatz then did whatever he could to gain Daisy’s love, which basically meant that he pursued what Daisy loved, money. He finally became a wealthy man and once again caught the eye of Daisy. He changed his name to Jay Gatsby. It was almost as if he were reincarnated into the man that he always wanted to be. The quandary with this newfound love was that Daisy was already married to one of the most prestigious men on Long Island, Tom Buchanon. Gatsby then became a fool in his attempt to rekindle the flame between himself and Daisy. He attempted to have an affair with her behind Tom’s back, in hopes that it would blossom into a relationship then to marriage. The tragedy occurred when Daisy came to the realization that she wanted nothing to do with Gatsby because she was secure with her current husband, Tom. Gatsby then passed away and Daisy didn’t even bother to pay sympathy or respect to the man she once loved. Jay Gatsby was a noble fool. Everything he stood for, and everything he had accomplished, was for Daisy. He was a fool in the manner that he believed he could take her away from her newfound husband. This led to his demise. Gatsby “had broken up like glass against Tom’s hard malice.”(148).
Gatsby and Quixote alike were both noble and romantic fools. They both aimed at pleasing the ones that they gave they hearts to. They were both lost within their own realms of false imagery and interpretations. The reader learns to feel compassion for these characters who are living their fantasies, however, can expect them to come to terms with reality and be overwhelmed with the notion that one cannot dream forever. Don Quixote and Jay Gatsby were dreamers, and they would let nothing stop them from fulfilling their goals. They were noble, for, they did not harm anyone in their trials, and they were romantic because they did these deeds all in pursuit of love and happiness. These two characters were human, and all humans have faults. Theirs were merely exploited in a tragic manner.