In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald tells a tale of an ambitious young man who literally rises from rags to riches and yet fails to realize his one and only dream of true love. The tight prose, tragic events, and themes that may never go out of fashion make this book a must read for everyone.
Setting and Characters
The novel is set in 1922 in the USA. In the beginning we are introduced to our narrator, Nick Carraway, who moves to New York to become a part of the bond business. He rents a house on the West side of Long Island as he settles in the city and learns the ropes of the business. Comapred to the small house in which Nick lives, his neighbors have huge mansions with acres of lawns and gardens.
Soon Nick visits his cousin, Daisy, who lives on the East side of Long Island in an impressive mansion with her affluent husband Tom Buchanan. There he also meets Jordan Baker who is a friend of Daisy and a celebrated golf player. During his visit, Nick finds out about the tension between Daisy and Tom, which may endanger their marriage.
Within a few days of his visit, Nick finds out about Gatsby, who lives alone next door. Mr.Gatsby is an immensely popular person in the area because of the extravagant parties he organizes at his house. People from all over New York, the invited and the un-invited, attend Gatsby’s parties in huge numbers, drinking and dancing to music and lights all night. Nick attends one of his parties and soon finds himself in a friendship with Gatsby. He learns that despite his popularity, most of the people don’t know how Gatsby acquired his wealth and his past is a mystery. People only come to his house to enjoy his parties. Not long afterward Nick discovers himself caught up between Daisy and Gatsby, who he founds out, were in a relationship in the past.
The major portion of the story concerns itself with introducing the characters and their backgrounds to the reader and how they handle their feelings as they choose how their relationships will play out.
I think the story talks about three major themes: first, it talks about Gatbsy’s transformation , who through luck and focused effort made great progress in his life as he rose in status, wealth, and character. Second, it talks about our inability to achieve certain things in life even if we do everything in our power to seek it. This theme contradicts the popular belief that with enough hardwork, one can become anything he or she wants to (the American Dream). Third, it talks about materialism in the society and how money, wealth, and power are the major factors that forms the basis of most of our relationships. Through his characters, Fitzgerald has described the powerlessness of love against material criteria. His characters stink of betrayal, disloyalty, and greed.
Gatsby did everything in his power to transform himself. From a poor farm boy, he worked day and night to become a member of the elite class. Yet despite having wealth, he is never accepted by the elite class as a member. In his grand parties, he finds himself alone and when he dies, no one attends his funeral to bid him farewell. The novel is thus a personficiation of the unreliability and undependable nature of people and life. People will use you and when you need them, they will not even bother to ask you how you are doing.
Daisy was the one and only thing Gatsby wanted. In his mind, she was his and he was hers. Daisy and Gatsby had an affair when they were young. While Gatsby had nothing to boast of, Daisy hailed from an affluent family. Their mismatch in social standing prevented them from cementing their relationship. From that point onward, Gatsby’s entire life is spent in pursuit of the wealth and class which will help him finally win the hand of his beloved Daisy. Yet, Gatsby is blinded by his love and it does not end well for him and his wealth proves insufficient to serve his only goal in life.
A good book leaves you with a lot of questions. When I finished reading The Great Gatsby, I was left so many questions in my mind. I had questions about the characters, the themes, and the very purpose or motfi which could have encouraged Fitzgerald to write this novel in the first place. For a novel which is very short, all the elements fit together very well to create a memorable story. This is a story which will stay with me for a long time.