When Fitzgerald decided to name his novel "The Great Gatsby" he willingly introduced a touch of irony into his creation. Sparked by a simple play on words, Jay Gatsby is neither "great" nor is his real name Gatsby. For many years Gatsby created an illusion that eventually swept him, and those around him, off their feet and soon overtook their lives.
Born James Gatz to a poor family in North Dakota, he worked extremely hard to acquire his fortune and in the narrators eyes, "greatness", whereupon he immediately changed his name to Jay Gatsby. However, no one knows where he came from, what he does or how he came upon his fortune. To calm the curiosity of those he calls "old sport" The "Great" Gatsby, like the Great Houdini [magician] creates a series of lies and illusions to portray a certain image to his audience. Gatsby claims his money came from his family when in reality it came from bootlegging and a serious of other scandalous crimes. .
Gatsby is known most famously for the lavish parties he throws every Saturday night. He stops at no expense to bring glamour and sophistication to these events which are nothing more then bait to lure his one obsession and dream Daisy Buchanan. She is the driving force behind his aspirations and eventually becomes the downfall to his greatness.
The irony becomes most apparent through the eyes of Nick, the novel's narrator. Nick sees little greatness in the young millionaire"s behavior and personality. He is vulgar dishonest and deeply flawed with a foolish attachment to his cousin Daisy. However, it's his brilliant smile and extraordinary optimism and power to transform his dreams into a reality that make him a "great" figure to Nick. He deeply admires his perseverance and hard work that has led to his present stature.
Fitzgerald does a wonderful job at displaying both sides to Jay Gatsby. He shows the good along with the bad and leaves the reader asking himself if Gatsby's "greatness" is measured by his fame and fortune or by his ability to create an false impression of his past.