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Examination of Hubris in The Great Gatsby and King Lear

            Humanity has, since the dawn of time, been fixated with itself. In history, this is evidenced by the great monuments erected by pharaohs and kings of the past - and today humans corroborate this by inundating the Internet with images of themselves. Despite their love for themselves being deeply rooted in antiquity, it is only the last few generations who have been chastised for it. Disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and body dysmorphia all feed into the obsessive way that humans view themselves. And whilst the story of Narcissus was spawned in Greek mythology, it was not until 1968 that his name was appropriated for a 'self-obsessed' personality disorder. It is interesting that, in tragic pieces of literature such as The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and King Lear by William Shakespeare, both characters attempt to portray themselves as powerful and important - yet it is the childlike narcissism of titular characters Jay Gatsby and King Lear that blinds them to the truth and renders them unable to accept reality. They are consumed with a hubristic sense of self - which eventually leads to their downfall. In the same vein as Narcissus - who was cursed for not being able to see past his own conceited vision that the nymph may truly love him - they are so transfixed with themselves that they do not notice as the worlds they had constructed crumble around them. Gatsby and Lear are unable to recognise the love which Daisy and Cordelia respectively have for them and it is telling that, as these characters approach the pinnacle of their collective lives on their planet, they finally realise the destructive nature of their Narcissistic tendencies - yet, as history proves to humanity, society always realises too late.
             In F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, Gatsby muses, "No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart." ( Fitzgerald 95).

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