The Great Gatsby is a prime example of traditional American Literature. Explaining the life in one of the most roaring cities of the 1920’s, New York, the novel is a great interpretation of American life in that time. Taking place during the story, there is an economic boom, coupled with the new American lifestyles being formed. Scott Fitzgerald, the author, shares many traits that can be found in both Gatsby and Carraway. Jay Gatsby is a very important and impressive character in the plot of the story, serving his role as the protagonist. Nick Carraway plays the role of the “neutral party” as he was influenced by his father to “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had”. Daisy Buchanan, the wife of Tom and long lost lover of Gatsby, is the main source of foil in the novel. If The Great Gatsby is really a great American novel, then perhaps we will find evidence of the personalities and ideals that suit the era.
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In the 1920’s things were evolving and there were many radical views. There was a sense of optimism and aspiration. People believed that they could be whoever they wanted to be, no matter how difficult it may be. For instance, Gatsby, he got to where he wanted by means of bootlegging. This is a prime example of the attitude the population had in the time. During the 1920’s an economic boom was in progress. All over the country, people were having their “American Dreams” come true with little effort. The name Wolfshiem is a familiar name of the time, as he was involved in fixing the “World Series of 1919”. This sets the ideals that money can buy anything one desires. All of this fun and happiness soon comes to an end for the American People, with the stock market crash in 1929. Everyone lost the feelings of hedonism and materialism, and shifted into survival mode.
F. Scott Fitzgerald is a character all to himself. He experienced the 1920’s first hand, born September 24, 1896 as an only child. Like the character Gatsby in the novel, he went to school, dropped out, and went into the army. For grade school he attended St Paul Academy and Newman School. When it came time for college, he resided in Princeton, a very prestigious school of the time. Fitzgerald lived a life similar to that of his characters. He and his wife, Zelda, had the fun, rich parties with the illegal and expensive liquors coupled with lavishing entertainment. The party was over when Zelda was hospitalized for schizophrenia in Switzerland. From this moment on, Fitzgerald spiraled downward into personal depression. At the same time, the Great Depression of 1929 happened to be taking effect. With the aid of his long addiction of alcohol, he suddenly died of a heart attack on December 21, 1940.
Jay Gatsby, also known as James Gatz, is the central title character of the novel. He is a young man from a rural city in North Dakota. Raised in poverty, he aspired to advance and become wealthy. Eventually, this goal of wealth was reached, but was ill-attained through illegal means such as bootlegging and trading in stolen securities. Everything Gatsby does is in one way, shape, or form, for daisy. After meeting her, he quickly fell into a deep love for her. This is when Daisy meets and marries Tom Buchanan. After this, Gatsby devotes his life to winning back Daisy’s love. Stopping at nothing, he buys his mansion on West Egg to be close to her, and throws parties every weekend, in an attempt to “lure” her back into his arms. Gatsby genuinely believed that he could relive the past. This was not so, and is realized with his murder.
The narrator of the novel, Nick Carraway, is a temperamental man that plays a very major role in the novel while. He was born in a little Minnesota town in 1892, into a well maintained family. Education was very important in his family; he attended middle school and high school in the mid-west. After grade school, his parents sent him to Yale University. Just as all the other young men of the time, he was pulled into the war in 1917. Coming back from the war, he moved to New York’s “West Egg” and rented a small house that was neighboring Gatsby. Nick is the cousin of Daisy, which enables him to be of assistance to Gatsby and play the middle man in the situation. His view of everyone is unbiased as he does not pass judgment. He is a very nice person, and just wants to help his friends to see the world they are living in.
Known as the “careless lover” Daisy plays the center of corruption in the novel. She is from Louisville, Kentucky, and a second cousin of Nick Carraway. All she wants is love, as she cannot live without it, which is the main factor that caused her to marry Tom while Gatsby was in the war and attending oxford. Furthermore, Daisy is a lackadaisical character, as most of the women in the time. Having no regard to true feelings, she is very materialistic, as Tom “bought her love” with a $300,000 necklace. She has a daughter, named Pam. Treated as an afterthought; one can really see how shallow and un-affectionate Daisy can be. As said in Sparknotes, daisy “represents the amoral values of the aristocratic East Egg set.”
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There are many different ways to view The Great Gatsby, and views vary from crowd to crowd. For instance, men may critique the book as a good read and a good story, but some women may not like the roles that the women play in the novel. The book is a harsh reality for both sides. Most critics concur that The Great Gatsby is Fitzgerald’s “Crown Jewel”. I believe that the book is a good read and a good example of life in the 1920’s. The most relevant theme is the ideal of the “American Dream”. Fitzgerald does a good job at keeping the western and eastern influences in the character traits. There is definitely an underlying theme at work in this novel that gets it so much attention. I believe the underlying theme is the idea that America has been tainted by material possessions and riches.
In conclusion, The Great Gatsby is a great book and there are many reasons for it. If The Great Gatsby is the Great American novel it is said to be, then the evidence is evident. Such as the character Daisy Buchanan, she is the walking representation of a careless lover and with her lackadaisical mood. A good example of her materialism is when she says, “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such – such beautiful shirts before.” Nick Carraway, is the good man of the novel, he is trying to help people see the reality of things with his temperamental attitude. Jay Gatsby is a very mysterious man, who we don’t learn much about till the end of the novel. He, being the titled character, is a man who will stop at nothing to get his desires. Scott Fitzgerald is much like the characters of Nick and Gatsby. Each character represents a side of Fitzgerald, one good and one partially corrupted. Taking place in the 1920’s the novel does a good job of showing us what things were like in the “Jazz Age”. The movie is nothing like the book, as there are a lot more underlying plots and themes that are not expressed in movie. Therefore, I believe that The Great Gatsby is the greatest American Novell yet to be released.
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