THE GREAT GATSBY
A Vivid Description of The Tragedies That Occur When The Fanciful and The Real Meet
F Scott Fitzgerald was an American Novelist. Belonging to the lost generation that lived from before the first world war to the great depression, Fitzgerald had a first-hand experience of the Jazz Age of America, a term which he had coined. The jazz age was an age of staggering changes in prosperity, from the highs of the roaring twenties to the lows of the great depression, and his books cover much of the same theme, with them showcasing the extravagances of the age while simultaneously expertly showing the underlying issues of the age, which included themes of women’s rights, class struggle and bigotry.
“The American dream, or myth, is an ever-recurring theme in American literature, dating back to some of the earliest colonial writings. Briefly defined, it is the belief that every man, whatever his origins, may pursue and attain his chosen goals, be they political, monetary, or social. It is the literary expression of the concept of America: The land of opportunity.” – Roger Pearson.
The book is an exciting and tragic reading of the comparison of the idealistic ‘American Dream’ with that of reality. National myths and legends, feelgood generalisations of idyllic life under a system of beliefs, philosophies and economics propounded by the believers and ardent supporters of such myths almost always crumble under the inexorable march of reality and the book lays of the fictional story of one such individual, the protagonist of the book, Jay Gatsby. Daisy Buchanan is often considered the primary antagonist of the story as a result of her decision to rebuke Gatsby, while modern readings of the story consider Daisy a literary device used by Fitzgerald to convey the almost utopian dogmas of the American Dream and to better display the dark underbelly of American life in the years leading up to the Great Depression. In reality, it was the general sense of disillusionment with the American Dream that Fitzgerald faced personally and brilliantly showcased the perils of chasing utopia that ultimately led to the death of Gatsby.
The book further brilliantly touches upon the themes of gender relations and class struggles, with both shown for the bleak realities that they were. Gatsby’s ultimate betrayal by Daisy further drove home the idea that the economic and social game in the U.S. is extremely stacked to favour the established aristocracy of the country, with even the nouveau riche being considered below them for the simple reason that they were not born into wealth.
Further, as with most stories discussing the peculiarities of a situation, Fitzgerald uses a first-person narrator separate from the protagonist to provide a third-person’s view of the situation, in order to allow the reader to cognitively disassociate themselves from the protagonist and look at their own failings, as can be seen in the funeral of Jay Gatsby, where despite feeling remorse for the man, the narrator and through him, the readers, also feel let down by Gatsby, whose relentless chase of a long-dead dream caused his demise and are left with a simmering resentment against Daisy and all she represents for her ultimate betrayal of Gatsby and her and Tom Buchanan’s lie, which begs the reader to ask questions about the fairness of the social setup of the U.S. and the American dream.
Who is this book for?
The book is for the individual who enjoys reading about complex moral dilemmas and the grittier realities of the world.