The icon of an American Gangster is portrayed through the role of Jay Gatsby in the film The Great Gatsby ( 2013). There is no doubt he is a portrayed as a ‘gangster’ in the sense that we are aware that he made his money through illegal practices and we are also conscious of his lavish parties every Saturday night in his mansion despite the prohibition of alcohol during this time period. However, he is fundamentally portrayed as a gangster in that fact that he is of ‘new money’ and not ‘old money’ unlike the character Tom in the film, Gatsby’s love rival. Hence, his class position is not legitimate nor stable and this represents a bigger social change in America at the time during the 1920s when anything was possible due to the phenomenon of the ‘American Dream.’
It may be argued that Gatsby is a ‘gangster’ as he is constantly trying to progress in life and is searching for perfection. His wealth and position in society is not accepted by the old elite in East Egg and he constantly tries to fit in with this wealthy elite through his lavish parties, his use of the phrase ‘old sport’ and most importantly by concealing his true roots. The mystery and secrecy surrounding Jay Gatsby therefore conveys a ‘gangster’ like image especially to the characters Tom and even Daisy who eventually rejects Gatsby for the stability that comes with her husband, Tom. However, for those watching this film, Gatsby is lovable gangster and as the film progresses we become aware of the reasons behind his crazy lifestyle and his attainment of wealth and that is his overwhelming love for Daisy.