The word illusion comes to mind when describing the character of Jay Gatsby, in F. Scott Fitzgerald's, romantic classic, The Great Gatsby. The character of Jay Gatsby is shrouded in illusion. The beginning chapters of the novel allude to a Gatsby that differs greatly from the Gatsby that the reader eventually meets in chapter three. Gatsby himself is a master illusionist. He transforms himself from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby, from poor farm boy to wealthy Oxford scholar. Through the character of Gatsby the author illustrates the destructiveness of man's quest for material success, often referred to as "the American Dream". Gatsby's dream of winning Daisy Buchanan is another illusion. It is not realty based, and therefore unattainable, much like the illusion that material wealth alone can bring true happiness. .
Jay Gatsby is a fake, but a good one. In his pursuit of Daisy he discards his true self and turns himself into a man that he believes will win the affections of his one true love. "I'll tell you God's truth. I am the son of some wealthy people in the middle-west----all dead now. I was brought up in America but educated at Oxford because all my ancestors have been educated there for many years. It is a family tradition." Gatsby's re-invention of himself as someone of not only wealth and education, but also possessing a history of wealth and tradition is immediately suspect, especially in light of the many rumors about him, but somehow the master illusionist is able to lend enough credibility to the persona that he creates that others question whether or not it is all true.
Gatsby weaves a web of deceit from his very first meeting with Daisy Buchanan, who he met as a young military officer in Louisville before leaving to fight in World War I. Gatsby immediately fell in love with Daisy's aura of luxury, grace, and charm, and lied to her about his own background in order to convince her that he was good enough for her.