Although this novel is over 80 years old, its themes and issues remain relevant to contemporary society. I have read this book at least once a year for the past eight years. Fitzgerald's characters may not be immediately empathetic, but they all are figures that are believable. The decadence of the Roaring Twenties is the setting for a drama that on one level is about failed romance, but that failed romance is much more. Our narrator, Nick, is not perfect himself, and his lens of the events that transpire give us a way to construct our own feelings about what happens. This novel questions what "The American Dream" might be by showing that wealth, fame, and power do not necessarily make one happy, or lead to a sense of fulfillment. Instead, the lavish parties and lifestyles are facades that mask a deep hollowness in the lives of almost all the characters. This doesn't mean the characters are to be resented; rather, they become more accessible and three-dimensional for having problems more like real people than characters in other novels.
As the novel progresses, the reader learns of the twisted romantic triangles involving the narrator's neighbor, cousin, her husband, his mistress, and her husband. Sounds complicated here, but in the novel it makes perfect sense. We navigate the Long Island elite along with Nick, the narrator, as he attends lavish, over-the-top parties full of vapid people. My favorite quote: " 'And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.' ” As the action rises, the novel becomes tenser and tenser, with the final climax being such a catharsis, that though it is a tragic end, in one sense it has to happen. With the climax (and the aftermath), Fitzgerald lays bare his scathing critique of American high society and its various intrigues.
This novel may not leave you feeling particularly good about yourself or the state of society, but it offers up a very human portrait of what people will do to try to get what they want. It doesn't gloss our protagonist as being the most upright, moral person deserving of his reward, but instead give us characters who are all independent actors with their own needs and desires, and shows us what happens when these wants clash against each other and clash against the confines of the upper class. It is a masterpiece.
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In 1925, The Great Gatsby was published and hailed as an artistic and material success for its young author, F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is considered a vastly more mature and artistically masterful treatment of Fitzgerald's themes than his earlier fiction. These works examine the results of the Jazz Age generation's adherence to false material values.
In The Great Gatsby's nine chapters, Fitzgerald presents the rise and fall of Jay Gatsby, as related in a first-person narrative by Nick Carraway. Carraway reveals the story of a farmer's son-turned racketeer, named Jay Gatz. His ill-gotten wealth is acquired solely to gain acceptance into the sophisticated, moneyed world of the woman he loves, Daisy Fay Buchanan. His romantic illusions about the power of money to buy respectability and the love of Daisy—the “golden girl” of his dreams—are skillfully and ironically interwoven with episodes that depict what Fitzgerald viewed as the callousness and moral irresponsibility of the affluent American society of the 1920s.
America at this time experienced a cultural and lifestyle revolution. In the economic arena, the stock market boomed, the rich spent money on fabulous parties and expensive acquisitions, the automobile became a symbol of glamour and wealth, and profits were made, both legally and illegally. The whirlwind pace of this post-World War I era is captured in Fitzgerald's Gatsby, whose tragic quest and violent death foretell the ...