Nature of Man- Great Gatsby

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Today, the definition of ‘man’ encompasses all of humanity. Therefore, what exactly is human nature? It refers to the usual patterns of behavior displayed by mankind. Every individual has both positive and negative traits. Sometimes, their kindness prevails, while other times, their evil side dominates. Different qualities like respectfulness, love, and selfishness define a person. Selfishness can be described as an excessive or exclusive focus on oneself, where personal gain, enjoyment, or welfare is pursued without considering others (as defined by Merriam Webster).

Although it is commonly believed that being selfish is morally wrong and harmful to one’s overall happiness, there is a distinction between extreme self-centeredness and the desire for a more fulfilling life. The act of being selfish involves solely prioritizing personal desires without regard for society’s shared objectives. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, characters demonstrate the inherent selfishness that exists in human nature through engaging in acts of cruelty, greed, and manipulation to achieve their own goals.

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Man’s selfish nature is evident in acts of cruelty. This is exemplified in the novel when Nick discusses Tom Buchanan’s behavior, stating that “Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward… It was a body capable of enormous leverage—a cruel body” (Fitzgerald, 9). This quote illustrates how Tom Buchanan transformed from being friendly and pleasant to becoming cruel and abusive, as observed by Nick who knew him during their college years.

Tom’s character represents the selfishness, arrogance, and cleverness in people of society. Another example of Tom’s cruelty is also through being abusive. Although Tom is not physically abusive, he definitely causes Daisy some emotional abuse. Tom mistreats and uses Daisy, carrying on another relationship without caring how Daisy feels. Tom does what he needs to get what he wants, thus proving he is a selfish and cruel man.

Cruelty is also evident in many works of life, even years ago. Adolf Hitler is the world’s number one cruelest person, caring only about his country and their desires. “It’s clear why the Nazi leader is number one … He had intention to create a new order where Nazi Germans would be dominant, so he built a lot of gas chambers where he killed somewhere between 11 and 14 million people, mostly Jews” (10 Cruelest Leaders Ever). Hitler is only one of the many world leaders who show cruelty. He was cruel to Jews and exterminated them. He had set up gas chambers and concentration camps where Jews were put to work and ultimately died. Hitler, once in power of Germany, was very anti-Semitic meaning he had a deep hatred for Jews.

The gas chambers were used to deceitfully kill individuals who believed they were entering showers, resulting in their abrupt death within 15 minutes upon exposure to lethal Zyklon-B gas. Hitler, solely focused on gaining power for his country, demonstrated complete disregard for the well-being of the world at large, exhibiting extreme self-centeredness and cruelty. Hitler’s actions ultimately caused millions of deaths; Jews who disobeyed his orders were quickly condemned to die, while those who obeyed met a similar fate later on. This serves as a reminder that life can be unjust and unsettling, with encounters with inconsiderate and self-centered individuals being unavoidable.

It is in man’s nature to be selfish, as evidenced by greed. In the novel, many characters, including Tom and Daisy, demonstrate greed and rely on their wealth for everything. Fitzgerald wrote, “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money … and let other people clean up the mess they had made” (114). Tom and Daisy resided in the East Egg, which symbolized the presence of old money—wealth handed down through generations.

Tom and Daisy, who come from a wealthy family, have grown up relying on their money and not taking responsibility for their actions. Their wealth has made them dependent on it and they prioritize it above everything else. They are also selfish with their money, refusing to let anyone or anything hinder their accumulation of more wealth. Additionally, Tom prevents Daisy from pursuing her own interests and instead controls the use of their money for his own benefit. This excessive greed prevents them from learning how to be self-sufficient.

In today’s society, the presence of greed is evident. Facebook, like many other companies, demonstrates its greed by utilizing IPO (initial public offering) to increase its profits, ultimately benefiting from the public’s contribution. The IPO process witnessed greed as company executives and insiders prioritized personal wealth accumulation rather than the company’s success. As a result, they sold 57% of the shares offered, reinforcing the notion that IPO does not stand for initial public offering, but rather insider profit opportunity (Moore).

Facebook is displaying extreme greed as a company, using the initial public offering (IPO) solely for personal financial gain, rather than benefiting the company. This selfish approach to business is a departure from the intended purpose of the IPO, turning it into an opportunity for insider profit. The company’s blatant greed is generating substantial profits through this strategy.

Greed and selfishness are evident in various aspects of life, including the inclination to manipulate others in pursuit of personal goals. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald portrays Gatsby as a character who employs manipulation to win over Nick and ultimately seek love with Daisy. According to Fitzgerald (46), “I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby’s house I was one of the few guests that had actually been invited. People were not invited—they went there.” This quote serves as evidence of Gatsby’s manipulative tactics towards Nick in order to establish a romantic relationship with Daisy.

Gatsby hosted many parties, inviting Nick formally but welcoming other guests without any such formality. Gatsby made an extra effort to ensure Nick’s presence because he desired an introduction to Daisy, his true love. In return, Gatsby expected a favor from Nick, revealing his manipulative tendencies. At first, Nick was unaware of this manipulation but eventually realized that he was being used by Gatsby. Gatsby went to extreme lengths solely for the purpose of reuniting with Daisy, which clarifies why he involved Nick in this way.

Gatsby’s ambition to meet Daisy was ultimately his downfall in the novel, as he manipulated his friend Nick to make it happen. This act of selfishness is reminiscent of the common use of manipulation in today’s society. Winston S. Churchill, known for his manipulative tactics, exemplifies this phenomenon. “There are men in the world who derive as stern exaltation from the Proximity of disaster and ruin, as others from success” (Winston S. Churchill 1874–1965). Churchil, the British Prime Minister during World War II, was skilled at manipulating crowds during his speeches, utilizing various qualities. However, both crowd and morality manipulators pose a serious threat to personal integrity (Morality Manipulators).

Churchill’s remarkable ability to manipulate was occasionally intimidating, as he delivered serious speeches on different subjects. His talent for persuading crowds to support Britain during the war proved advantageous for his country. Nevertheless, it is worth acknowledging that Churchill’s self-interest ultimately worked in favor of his nation rather than serving his personal desires. Consequently, manipulation is one of several characteristics associated with selfishness and should not be a quality one seeks.

The Great Gatsby vividly portrays the inherent selfishness in human nature through acts of cruelty, greed, and manipulation. These behaviors exemplify individuals’ self-centeredness as they prioritize their own interests without regard for others’ well-being. Cruelty involves disregarding others and solely focusing on personal desires. Similarly, greed is apparent when manipulating resources and wealth for personal gain at the expense of others’ needs and emotions. Ultimately, selfishness revolves around intense concentration on desires and ambitions related to material success.

One would need to engage in negative behavior to achieve selfishness, which is not a desirable trait. Works Cited Fitzgerald, Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1925. Print. Moore, Heidi. “Facebook’s IPO Debacle: Greed, Hubris, Incompetence … ” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 23 May 2012. Web. 7 Nov 2012. “Morality Manipulators. “Building Yourself. n. d. Web. 8 Nov 2012. “Selfish.” Merriam-Webster. n. d. Web. 3 Dec. 2012. “10 Cruelest Leaders Ever.” Urban Titan. n. d. Web. 7 Nov 2012.

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Nature of Man- Great Gatsby. (2016, Oct 15). Retrieved from

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