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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Review by Jensen
To call F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby a great novel is truly an understatement. This literary masterpiece is perhaps a true testament to American literature, framed from the era of the roaring twenties. Fitzgerald accurately presents the 1920s in the novel and the recurring motif, the American dream. In a world full of the elite and the poor, Fitzgerald offers different perspectives of what the American dream means to different types of people. Because of its creativity and world-building of the 1920s America, The Great Gatsby will always be a novel that resembles the magnificence of American literature.
The novel is told through the eyes of Nick Carraway, the narrator, who lives in the fictional West Egg, New York. West Egg consists of individuals whose wealth comes from “newer” methods of business, especially people who have earned a living for themselves without any inheritance. Adjacent to West Egg is East Egg, a town that houses some of the wealthiest families for generations who gain their wealth from “old money,” assets earned from family and generational businesses. Being a newly moved man from the Midwest, Nick’s house happens to be next door to the infamous yet mysterious Gatsby. No one knows very much about Gatsby whatsoever; in fact, some people believe that he is related to the great Kaiser Wilhelm III, a secret spy, and a murderer.
Another detail to note is that Nick has a cousin, Daisy Buchanan, who lives in East Egg. She is married to Tom Buchanan, a wealthy man whose wealth roots down from generations in his family. The final important character to note is Daisy’s good friend, Jordan, a professional golfer who is linked to Nick as a potential love interest.
One important fact to know is that Gatsby throws lavish parties that are oddly open to the public. Hundreds of people go, and none know the truth about Gatsby’s personality, activities, and how we accumulated so much money. One day, Nick strangely receives the only legitimate invitation to Gatsby’s party and Gatsby reveals himself to Nick. Nick finally learns that Gatsby needs Nick’s help to win back his longtime love and cousin of Nick, Daisy. The novel primarily focuses on Gatsby’s attempts to win her over and the reader can depend on Nick to depict how things play out for the wonderous Jay Gatsby.
An important theme to note in this novel is the American Dream. To many different types of people in the novel, the American dream has different interpretations. To most people, it is the journey of one’s ability to change their socioeconomic situation through hard work and determination. This is not the case for most characters in the novel; in fact, it becomes known that Gatsby partakes in mischievous and criminal activities, which explains how he was able to accumulate so much wealth. Gatsby also came from nothing and he was eventually enlisted in the army. While he was stationed in Kentucky, he met Daisy and the two caught feelings fast; however, Gatsby’s poor financial situation forced Daisy to look elsewhere. After coming home from World War, I, Gatsby delves into the criminal underworld and takes his unique pathway to riches. These different interpretations of the dream make Fitzgerald’s world more realistic and complicated. Not everything is sunshine and rainbows in 1920s America; sometimes there are people who are willing to take the darker path to make it.
One important aspect of the novel that is very controversial to many is the realness of Gatsby and Daisy’s relationship. It has been debated over decades whether or not the conclusion of the novel, which I will not discuss, is a fitting end for Gatsby and Daisy’s relationship. It is vital to understand the dynamic between these two characters before critiquing their “unrealistic” relationship. While Daisy says she still has some feelings toward Gatsby, it is Gatsby’s idolization for Daisy that is really critical to the book’s ending. There is a greater lesson to be learned from their relationship and that is some things are not meant to be. Gatsby places Daisy on a pedestal, ignoring her flaws; in this case, he refuses to accept her for the snobby person she really is, and he is so hellbent on the idea that things will pick up the same way in their previous relationship. Daisy and Gatsby’s relationship will always be a personal favorite of mine across all forms of American literature because of how it shows that this is not your typical romantic story.
It is inexcusable for one to not read this book. This a beloved literary classic that is Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. A true testament to American literature, The Great Gatsby will always be associated as one of the best books to have emerged from America. With relentless world building, complex characters, and an interesting perspective of the American Dream, the novel is a must read. There are not many books that can actually transform a person into another era of time, but The Great Gatsby is one of the few that can totally engulf a person in the wild spectacle of the roaring twenties.