Jay Gatsby is the title character and the protagonist of the novel, The Great Gatsby. Gatsby represents the American dream by transforming his dream of becoming wealthy and something great from nothing into a reality. Even though as the story progresses, Gatsby is found to be dishonest and phony, his optimism, determination, and power and ability to transform his dreams enables Gatsby to live up to the title The Great Gatsby.
Jay Gatsby, formerly known as James Gatz, is an extremely wealthy young man, around thirty, who lives in a Gothic Mansion next door to the narrator, Nick Carraway, on West Egg. Gatsby had been born into poverty in rural North Dakota and after working for a millionaire; he dedicates his life to becoming wealthy, so that he would never have to experience poverty again. When he meets a charming and luxurious girl named Daisy in Louisville, he falls in love with her and was willing to do anything to gain the social status to win her. Later in the story, it is told that Gatsby had made his fortune through organized crime and bootlegging, including distribution of illegal grain alcohol and trading in stolen securities. Though at first he wanted to become rich because he despised poverty, after meeting Daisy, she becomes his main motivation to become wealthy. He ends up lying to Daisy about his past so that she would view him worthy enough to marry. After she falls in love with Gatsby, she promises to wait for him to come back from the war, but while he's away, she feels the need to be loved and is swept away when she meets Tom Buchanan. She ends up marrying him and the novel is about Jay Gatsby's quest to win her back.
The character of Gatsby is very interesting because it contradicts itself throughout the novel. Gatsby first enters the novel in a speaking character in Chapter Three as a mysterious, extremely wealthy man who already has a celebrity type reputation before he was even introduced.