Macbeth and The Great Gatsby Comparison Essay Life would be easier if people were satisfied with what they do have and not focussing on what they do not have. At first glance it appears Macbeth and Jay Gatsby have the best lives they could imagine. Only later do we discover both of them are longing for something else in their lives. Macbeth’s has a desire to be king and Gatsby’s desire to gain Daisy back. The play, Macbeth, written by Shakespeare is about a brave, loyal Scottish man named Macbeth who receives a prophecy from three witches that one day he will become King, the prophecy leads Macbeth to ambition and greed for the position of authority. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth murder King Duncan to take the Scottish throne for themselves. During the rest of the play, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are overcome with guilt, fear and paranoia from what they have done. The paranoia leads Macbeth to commiting more murders to secure his position.
The prophecies from the witches turn Macbeth mad and eventually he leads himself to his own downfall. The novel, The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald is taken place in a whole different centurie with a much different story. This story is told by Nick Carraway, around 1920. Nick had just moved from the Midwest to West Egg, Long Island, seeking his future job as a salesman. After Nick is moved in and settled, he travels to East Egg to visit his cousin Daisy Buchanan and her husband, Tom.
Nick and their friends are soon fascinated by Nick’s next door neighbor Mr. Jay Gatsby, a very wealthy mysterious man who stays hidden in his mansion often gazing across the river at a faint green light on the other side. During this novel Gatsby gets closer with this group and his lies get discovered one by one. Him and his lost love, Daisy get reunited and for a moment all is right in the world until it starts crumbling down again. These two stories, Macbeth and The Great Gatsby are very different but both include one tragic hero. Macbeth and Jay Gatsby are both prominent characters in their respective novels who both face moments of struggle on their way to becoming tragic heros. Both characters share similar tragic hero characteristics. For example, they both have noble backgrounds, one tragic flaw, and both have a dramatic downfall in the end.
Both Macbeth, and Jay Gatsby’s characters end up teaching a lesson with their self caused downfalls. Macbeth and Gatsby both share the tragic hero trait of having a noble background in their past or present. In Shakespearean time, having the throne was the most powerful position you could recieve. Macbeth had a noble background before he had stole the throne from under King Duncan. Macbeth was the Thane of Glamis and soon to be the Thane of Cawdor. He was already politically important before being King was in his destiny. “All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter.” (Shakespeare 1.
3.48). This is a quote from the witches prophecies that prove Macbeth will be throned king in the future.
Macbeth is made the most important person in all of Scotland after being a Thane of the king. “The sovereignty will fall upon Macbeth.” (Shakespeare 2.4.30). This quote is from scene two when Ross is explaining that Macbeth will be the next in line for king. Both of these quotes from the play Macbeth prove that Macbeth has a noble background and a noble present. Jay Gatsby was known for being one of the richest men on Long Island.
Back in that decade wealth defined importance and Gatsby was very important in this area. Most of Long Island knew Gatsby for his magnificent monthly parties, important people attended his parties and almost all of Long Island would make an appearance at some point. Rumors would go around town about how Gatsby got so wealthy in such little time, “Well, they say he’s a nephew or cousin of Kaiser Wilhelm’s. That’s where all his money comes from.” (Fitzgerald 33).
One of Tom’s friends had heard this rumor and passed it on to Nick, this quote indicates that Gatsby was indeed rich. When Nick first meets Gatsby he invites Nick out to fly around in his new hydroplane. This shows the reader that Gatsby is very wealthy and can buy whatever he fancies. “He had just bought a hydroplane, and was going to try it out in the morning.” (Fitzgerald 33). Macbeth and Gatsby are both very wealthy and important people in their areas and times. Macbeth is shown off as more of a ruler and Gatsby is shown off as a mysterious star. Both men have noble backgrounds and are noble in their present time.
Despite Macbeth and Gatsby’s many flaws they both have one overall tragic flaw that leads themselves to their own downfalls. During the play of Macbeth, Macbeth does many bad things to good people but his one tragic flaw is that he can be persuaded to do anything and is very impressionable. If Macbeth never heard the witches prophecies at the beginning of the play than he never would of commited all the crimes he did. Proof that Macbeth is easily persuaded is that just one conversation with Lady Macbeth can easily persuade Macbeth kill the King. The original plan was that Macbeth would kill King Duncan and take the throne for himself. Later that night Macbeth was having strong doubts and was going to back out of his and Lady Macbeth’s plan. After one short conversation with Lady Macbeth the plan was back on and Macbeth was convinced to do the bad deed. “But be the serpent under ‘t.
He that’s coming must be provided for and you shall put This night’s great business into my dispatch;” (Shakespeare 1.5.65). This quote is Lady Macbeth persuading Macbeth into killing King Duncan when he was having doubts. Proof that Macbeth is very impressionable is because he believes every word in the witches prophecy and that leads him to committing the crimes he did. Macbeth’s mind is set on what should be happening from the witches prophecy so he is trying to make it true.
Jay Gatsby’s one tragic flaw is that he is obsessed with Daisy Buchanan. Every bad thing that happens in this novel is because of Gatsby’s obsession. “Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can” (Fitzgerald 111).
In Gatsby’s past him and Daisy were madly in love and now time has passed and Daisy is married to Tom. Gatsby says this referring to going back to when Daisy loved him. This quote proves Gatsby tries to bring back the past and has too high of expectations. Gatsby goes through the trouble of ruining Tom and Daisy’s marriage for the chance Daisy might go back to him. Throughout the story we discover Gatsby thinks that if he can just make enough money than Daisy will come back to him, Gatsby even moves across the lake from Daisy so she will notice him. Over the time of the whole story Gatsby puts himself and others in danger just for the chance at love again. Both Gatsby and Macbeth have very different tragic flaws but their flaws both end up leading to the defeat of their character. Around the end of these stories both Gatsby and Macbeth lead themselves to a have dramatic downfall that destroys them both.
Macbeth was killed in the end of the play and the people he had done wrong got their revenge. Macbeth’s want for power led to an unhealthy obsession and Macbeth was never satisfied with the power he had. “I am afraid to think what I have done; Look on ‘t again I dare not.” (Shakespeare 2.2.51).
This is a quote from scene two after Macbeth had just killed King Duncan, this shows Macbeth had felt guilty for his actions and wouldn’t dare think about it again. Macbeth kept committing bad crimes and started destroying himself by his own wicked ambitions. Gatsby’s downfall was because of his devotion to gaining Daisy’s love back. Gatsby’s strong feelings for Daisy put himself in danger and end up getting himself killed. His obsession for Daisy got Myrtle killed, ruined Tom and Daisy’s relationship and set himself up for danger. “It was after we started with Gatsby toward the house that the gardener saw Wilson’s body a little way off in the grass” (Fitzgerald 163).
This quote takes place in the end of the story when they discover who had murdered Gatsby. When Myrtle was killed Gatsby took the blame for Daisy for who was driving the car so Daisy would not get hurt, this put Gatsby in his own danger and cost him his life. Both the characters obsessions for power and love end up getting them both killed in the end. In the stories Macbeth and The Great Gatsby both of the main characters follow similar characteristics to becoming a tragic hero. Macbeth and Jay Gatsby both have noble backgrounds, one tragic flaw and an overall downfall that leads to their death. In the past Macbeth was the Thane of Glamis and takes on the Thane of Cawdor, finally Macbeth takes on the job of King of Scotland. Those are all noble positions of authority. Jay Gatsby is a very wealthy man and in the 1920s wealth defined importance.
Therefore Gatsby has a noble background of being famous for his wealth. Macbeth and Gatsby both share the tragic flaw of obsession. Macbeth has an obsession with having power and Gatsby has an obsession for Daisy. Both these obsessions lead these important characters to their fate. Finally, both Macbeth and Gatsby have a dramatic downfall in the end of their stories. Overall even though the stories of Macbeth and The Great Gatsby have very different plots behind them both share the similarity of the main character becoming a tragic hero. Work CitedFitzgerald, F.
Scott (Francis Scott), 1896-1940. The Great Gatsby. New York :C.
Scribner’s sons, 1925. Print.Shakespeare, William, et al. Macbeth. Easton Press, 1992.