The Great Gatsby
False American dream, true unrequited love
The Great Gatsby (1925) is a symbolic novel that examines the Jazz-age generations search for the elusive American dream of wealth and the lost romance between Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan.
Jay Gatsby is a mysterious young man, who gives extravagant parties on Long Island, New York, outside his palatial mansion in the warm, lazy, summer nights with hope that Daisy Buchanan will attend. He throws parties where people indulge in endless rounds of drinking, dancing, eating and backslapping with the host keeping himself in the background most of the time. Despite being surrounded by Long Island's bright and beautiful, he longs only for Daisy, his lost love. In shimmering prose F Scott Fitzgerald shows how Gatsby pursue his dream to its tragic conclusion.
Jay Gatsby, a farmer's son turned racketeer, whose ill-gotten wealth is acquired solely to gain acceptance into the sophisticated, moneyed world of the woman he loves, Daisy Buchanan. Gatsby was a self made, complex, conflicted, tortured, lonely man even shy, who tried to become a member of establishment only to get his 'golden girl'.
But what complicated the delicate situation is that Daisy is married to rich Tom Buchanan. Daisy enjoys luxury, which is why she married rich Tom, not poor Jay and again later turns toward Jay. Nick Carraway, Daisy's cousin, arrives in town and through him Gatsby reunites with his lost love.
Like all Fitzgerald's women, Daisy is beautiful, enchanting and hollow; the emptiness of her character behind a facade of charm betrays Gatsby's dream and leads indirectly to his death. Loving Gatsby is just a game to her, to be played on her own terms. Later, when situation forces her to come to a real decision being a materialistic woman she chooses Tom.
Unfortunately Gatsby never recognizes the grandeur or the immaturity of his romantic vision. He never completely sees through the ultimate limitations of his aspirations. They used him, laughed at his back and he could never get over the illusions about Daisy, a woman who never really existed, except in his distorted mind. At the end of the novel, in spite of all his wealth and possessions Gatsby was alone and helpless, while waiting in vain for Daisy's phone-call. Death in a swimming pool ends this tragedy and symbolizes Jazz-age.
In a word The Great Gatsby is about deception. The truth shocked Gatsby, the pretend gentleman but he could never let go of the mirage, if he did, there would be nothing left to his soul. Gatsby embodies many of the most painful experiences, fears, and desires of Fitzgerald's own life. His selfishness, his determination to love, his need to be loved and his vulnerability are a reflection of humanity which show the honesty in Fitzgerald's writing.
In addition to the story of Gatsby and Daisy, the novel talks about American dream. The novel takes place during the age of prosperity that followed first world war. Gatsby illuminates the American past and present, scope and variety of American life, the light and dark of American experience, the underside and upper side of American society.
The American dream was about the discovery of happiness, in the Jazz-age it became the acquisition of wealth. Wealth was considered happiness. The story discusses how vain this dream is and how it is not possible to achieve happiness through wealth. It also describes how society lost its moral values. When the meaning of life became earning money, the society became corrupted, lost the humaneness and became more judgmental.
Though this book is fiction, materialism and immortality is real. There are many Jay Gatsby in this present world. Jay Gatsby, a man that did great for himself fell off then, got back on just to lose himself again. In this world, everyone competes if they like it or not.
From when this book was published to now would almost be ninety years, that is a decade shy of a century and it looks like the way of the world not going to change. The only thing that is different is the characters. It is this universality of the novel's themes that has allowed The Great Gatsby to survive and attain a place among the classics of American literature.
At the time of his death in 1940, much of Fitzgerald's fiction, including The Great Gatsby, was forgotten or unread. The book was not a success when it was first published and the published review in the New York World reads "F Scott Fitzgerald's latest Dud". However the book rose to fame after Fitzgerald's death and is now considered to be his masterpiece.
I will end my rambling by quoting how Fitzgerald ends the book "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter, to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further. And one fine morning__
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
The author is a Lecturer,
Port City University, Chittagong