Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American writer of novels and short stories, whose works are evocative of the Jazz Age, a term he coined himself. Fitzgerald is considered a member of the "Lost Generation". He finished four novels, left a fifth unfinished, and wrote dozens of short stories that treat themes of youth and promise, and despair and age. The other works: This side of the Paradise, The last Tycoon, Tender is the Night, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, …
The Great Gatsby
He starts the novel in the present, giving us, in the first three chapters, a glimpse of the four main locales of the novel: Daisy's house in Eas t Egg (Chapter I); the valley of ashes and New York (Chapter II); and Gatsby's house in West Egg (Chapter III). Having established the characters and setting in the first three chapters, he then narrates the main events of the story in Chapters IV to IX, using Chapters IV, VI, and VII to gradually reveal the story of Gatsby's past. The past and present come together at the end of the novel in Chapter IX.
Plot: Nick Carraway, a young man from Minnesota, moves to New York- summer of 1922 to learn about the bond business. He rents a house in the West Egg-district of Long Island, a wealthy but unfashionable area populated by the new rich, a group who have made their fortunes too recently to have established social connections. Nick’s next-door neighbor is a mysterious man named Jay Gatsby, who lives in a gigantic Gothic mansion and throws extravagant parties every Saturday night.
Nick is unlike the other inhabitants of West Egg—educated at Yale and has social connections in East Egg, a fashionable area of Long Island home to the established upper class. Nick drives out to East Egg one evening for dinner with his cousin, Daisy Buchanan, and her husband, Tom, an erstwhile-bývalý classmate of Nick’s at Yale. Daisy and Tom introduce Nick to Jordan Baker, a beautiful, cynical young woman with whom Nick begins a romantic relationship. Nick also learns a bit about Daisy and Tom’s marriage: Jordan tells him that Tom has a lover, Myrtle Wilson, who lives in the valley of ashes, a gray industrial ground between West Egg and New York City. Not long after this revelation, Nick travels to New York City with Tom and Myrtle. At a vulgar, gaudy-nevkusný party in the apartment that Tom keeps for the affair, Myrtle begins to taunt-vyčítať Tom about Daisy, and Tom responds by breaking her nose.
As the summer progresses, Nick eventually garners-získať si an invitation to one of Gatsby’s parties. He encounters Jordan Baker at the party, and they meet Gatsby himself, a surprisingly young man who affects an English accent, has a remarkable smile, and calls everyone “old sport.” Gatsby asks to speak to Jordan alone, and, through Jordan, Nick later learns more about his mysterious neighbor. Gatsby tells Jordan that he knew Daisy in Louisville in 1917 and is deeply in love with her. He spends many nights staring at the green light at the end of her dock, across the bay from his mansion. Gatsby’s extravagant lifestyle and wild parties are simply an attempt to impress Daisy. Gatsby now wants Nick to arrange a reunion between himself and Daisy, but he is afraid that Daisy will refuse to see him if she knows that he still loves her. Nick invites Daisy to have tea at his house, without telling her that Gatsby will also be there. After an initially awkward-trápny reunion, Gatsby and Daisy reestablish their connection. Their love rekindled-znovu zapáliť, they begin an affair.
After a short time, Tom grows increasingly suspicious of his wife’s relationship with Gatsby. At a luncheon-obed at the Buchanans’ house, Gatsby stares at Daisy with such undisguised passion that Tom realizes Gatsby is in love with her. Though Tom is himself involved in an extramarital affair, he is deeply outraged-potupený by the thought that his wife could be unfaithful to him. He forces the group to drive into New York City, where he confronts Gatsby in a suite-apartmán at the Plaza Hotel. Tom asserts that he and Daisy have a history that Gatsby could never understand, and he announces to his wife that Gatsby is a criminal—his fortune comes from bootlegging-ilegálna výroba a predaj alcohol and other illegal activities. Daisy realizes that her allegiance is to Tom, and Tom sends her back to East Egg with Gatsby, attempting to prove that Gatsby cannot hurt him.
When Nick, Jordan, and Tom drive through the valley of ashes, however, they discover that Gatsby’s car has struck and killed Myrtle, Tom’s lover. They rush back to Long Island, where Nick learns from Gatsby that Daisy was driving the car when it struck Myrtle, but that Gatsby intends to take the blame. The next day, Tom tells Myrtle’s husband, George, that Gatsby was the driver of the car. George, who has leapt to the conclusion that the driver of the car that killed Myrtle must have been her lover, finds Gatsby in the pool at his mansion and shoots him dead. He then fatally shoots himself.
Nick stages a small funeral for Gatsby, ends his relationship with Jordan, and moves back to the Midwest to escape the disgust he feels for the people surrounding Gatsby’s life and for the emptiness and moral decay of life among the wealthy on the East Coast. Nick reflects that just as Gatsby’s dream of Daisy was corrupted by money and dishonesty, the American dream of happiness and individualism has disintegrated-vyčleniť into the mere-obyčajný pursuit of wealth. Though Gatsby’s power to transform his dreams into reality is what makes him “great,” Nick reflects that the era of dreaming—both Gatsby’s dream and the American dream—is over.
Protagonists are Gatsby and/or Nick.
Jay Gatsby: around thirty years old, an impoverished-chudobný childhood in rural North Dakota, became fabulously wealthy. He achieved this by participating in organized crime- distributing illegal alcohol and trading in stolen securities. From his early youth, Gatsby despised poverty and longed for wealth and sophistication—he dropped out of St. Olaf’s College after only two weeks because he could not bear the job with which he was paying his tuition. His main motivation to be rich was his love for Daisy Buchanan, whom he met as a young military officer in Louisville before leaving to fight in World War I in 1917. Gatsby fell in love with Daisy’s aura of luxury, grace, and charm, and lied to her about his own background in order to convince her that he was good enough for her. Daisy promised to wait for him when he left for the war, but married Tom Buchanan in 1919, while Gatsby was studying at Oxford after the war in an attempt to gain an education. From that moment on, Gatsby dedicated himself to winning Daisy back= acquisition of millions of dollars, his purchase of mansion, and weekly parties.
The reader gets to know all of this only later in the novel. Gatsby’s reputation precedes him—Gatsby himself does not appear in a speaking role until Chapter 3. Fitzgerald initially presents Gatsby as the aloof-vzdialený, enigmatic-záhadný host of the parties thrown every week at his mansion. He appears surrounded by spectacular luxury, courted by powerful men and beautiful women. He is the subject of gossip throughout New York and is already a kind of legendary celebrity before he is ever introduced to the reader. Fitzgerald propels the novel forward through the early chapters by shrouding-zahalenie Gatsby’s background and the source of his wealth in mystery (the reader learns about Gatsby’s childhood in Chapter 6 and receives definitive proof of his criminal dealings in Chapter 7). Only later there’s a different note from that of the lovesick, naive young man.
This technique of delayed character revelation emphasizes the theatrical quality of Gatsby’s approach to life, which is an important part of his personality. Gatsby has literally created his own character, even changing his name from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby to represent his reinvention of himself. Gatsby has an extraordinary ability to transform his hopes and dreams into reality; at the beginning of the novel, he appears to the reader just as he desires to appear to the world. This talent for self-invention is what gives Gatsby his quality of “greatness”: the title “The Great Gatsby” reminds us of magicians as “The Great Houdini” and “The Great Blackstone,” suggesting that the persona of Jay Gatsby is a masterful illusion.
In the end Gatsby reveals himself to be an innocent, hopeful young man. Gatsby invests Daisy with an idealistic perfection.
Gatsby is contrasted most consistently with Nick. The former, passionate and active, and the latter, sober and reflective. They seem to represent two sides of Fitzgerald’s personality. Additionally, whereas Tom is a cold-hearted, aristocratic bully, Gatsby is a loyal and good-hearted man. Gatsby and Wilson share the fact that they both lose their love interest to Tom.
Nick Carraway: A young man (he turns thirty during the course of the novel) from Minnesota who comes to New York in 1922 to learn the bond business. Daisy’s cousin. Nick is the perfect choice to narrate the novel, which functions as a personal memoir of his experiences with Gatsby in the summer of 1922.
As he tells the reader in Chapter 1, he is tolerant, open-minded, quiet, and a good listener, and, as a result, others tend to talk to him and tell him their secrets. Gatsby, in particular, trusts him. Nick prefers to describe and comment on events rather than dominate the action. Often, however, he functions as Fitzgerald’s voice.
Nick has a strongly mixed reaction to life on the East Coast- he is attracted to the fast-paced, fun-driven lifestyle of New York but he finds it grotesque and damaging. This is symbolized by Nick’s romantic affair with Jordan Baker. He is attracted to her vivacity-sila, energia and her sophistication just as he is repelled by her dishonesty and her lack of consideration for other people.
Nick realizes that the fast life of revelry on the East Coast is a cover for the terrifying moral emptiness that the valley of ashes symbolizes. Having gained the maturity that this insight demonstrates, he returns to Minnesota in search of a quieter life structured by more traditional moral values.
Daisy Buchanan: Partially based on Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda; a beautiful young woman from Louisville, Kentucky. Nick’s cousin and the object of Gatsby’s love. Daisy was extremely popular among the military officers stationed near her home. Gatsby lied about his background to Daisy, claiming to be from a wealthy family in order to convince her that he was worthy of her. Gatsby won Daisy’s heart, and they made love before Gatsby left to fight in the war. Daisy promised to wait for Gatsby, but in 1919 she chose to marry Tom Buchanan, a young man from a solid, aristocratic family who could promise her a wealthy lifestyle and who had the support of her parents.
She is beautiful and charming, but also fickle, shallow, bored, and sardonic. Daisy proves her real nature when she chooses Tom over Gatsby in Chapter 7, then allows Gatsby to take the blame for killing Myrtle Wilson even though she herself was driving the car. Finally, rather than attend Gatsby’s funeral, Daisy and Tom move away, leaving no forwarding address.
Like Zelda Fitzgerald, Daisy is in love with money, ease, and material luxury. She is indifferent even to her own infant daughter, never discussing her. Daisy represents the amoral values of the aristocratic East Egg set.
Tom Buchanan - Daisy’s wealthy husband, once a member of Nick’s social club at Yale. Powerfully built, from a socially old family, Tom is an arrogant, hypocritical bully. His social attitudes are laced with racism and sexism, and he never even considers trying to live up to the moral standard he demands from those around him. He has no moral qualms about his own extramarital affair with Myrtle, but when he begins to suspect Daisy and Gatsby of having an affair, he becomes outraged and forces a confrontation.
Jordan Baker - Daisy’s friend, a woman with whom Nick becomes romantically involved. A competitive golfer, Jordan represents one of the “new women” of the 1920s—cynical, boyish, and self-centered. Jordan is beautiful, but also dishonest: she cheated in order to win her first golf tournament and continually bends the truth.
Myrtle Wilson - Tom’s lover, whose lifeless husband George owns a run-down garage in the valley of ashes. Myrtle desperately looks for a way to improve her situation. Unfortunately for her, she chooses Tom, who treats her as a mere object of his desire.
George Wilson - Myrtle’s husband, the lifeless, exhausted owner of a run-down auto shop at the edge of the valley of ashes. George loves and idealizes Myrtle, and is devastated by her affair with Tom. He can’t get over Myrtle’s death. George is comparable to Gatsby in that both are dreamers and both are ruined by their unrequited love for women who love Tom.
Owl Eyes - The eccentric, bespectacled-majúci okuliare drunk whom Nick meets at the first party he attends at Gatsby’s mansion. Nick finds Owl Eyes looking through Gatsby’s library, astonished that the books are real.
Klipspringer - The shallow freeloader who seems almost to live at Gatsby’s mansion, taking advantage of his host’s money. As soon as Gatsby dies, Klipspringer disappears—he does not attend the funeral, but he does call Nick about a pair of tennis shoes that he left at Gatsby’s mansion.
Three people- Gatsby, Myrtle, and Wilson- were the only people to ever have truly loved.
(time) Summer 1922
(place) Long Island and New York City
Point of view:
The voice is always Nick's. Nick Carraway not only narrates the story but implies that he is the book’s author. He narrates in both first and third person, presenting only what he himself observes. Nick alternates sections where he presents events objectively, as they appeared to him at the time, with sections where he gives his own interpretations of the story’s meaning and of the motivations of the other characters. But he never tells us something he could never know. This is one of the reasons the novel is so convincing.
Past tense is used. Fitzgerald's stylistic method is to let a part stand for the whole. In Chapters I to III, for example, he lets three parties stand for the whole summer. He also lets small snatches of dialogue represent what is happening at each party. The technique is cinematic. The camera zooms in, gives us a snatch of conversation, and then cuts to another group of people. Nick serves almost as a recording device, jotting down what he hears. Fitzgerald's ear for colloquial phrases of the period is excellent. Fitzgerald's style might also be called imagistic. His language is full of images. There is water imagery in descriptions of the rain, Long Island Sound, and the swimming pool. There is religious imagery in the Godlike eyes of Dr. Eckleburg and in words such as incarnation, and grail. There is color imagery: pink for Gatsby, yellow and white for Daisy. We might also call Fitzgerald's style reflective. There are several important passages at which Nick stops and reflects on the meaning of the action, almost interpreting the events.
Nick’s attitudes toward Gatsby and Gatsby’s story are ambivalent and contradictory. At times he seems to disapprove of Gatsby’s excesses and breaches of manners and ethics, but he also romanticizes and admires Gatsby, describing the events of the novel in a nostalgic and elegiac tone.
The decline of the American dream, The spirit of the 1920s, The difference between social classes : On the surface, The Great Gatsby is a story of the thwarted love between a man and a woman. The Great Gatsby is a symbol of America as a whole in 1920s, in particular the disintegration-rozklad of the American dream in an era of unprecedented-neslýchaný prosperity and material excess.
The 1920s are an era of decayed social and moral values- cynicism, greed, and empty pursuit of pleasure- the opulent parties at Gatsby´s. When World War I ended in 1918, the generation of young Americans who had fought the war became intensely disillusioned. The rise of the stock market after the war led to a sudden, sustained increase in the national wealth and a newfound materialism, as people began to spend and consume at unprecedented levels. A person from any social background could, potentially, make a fortune, but the American aristocracy—families with old wealth—scorned-opovrhnúť the newly rich industrialists. Additionally, the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1919, which banned the sale of alcohol, created a thriving underworld designed to satisfy the massive demand for bootleg liquor.
Nick and Gatsby, both of whom fought in World War I, stand for cosmopolitanism and cynicism that resulted from the war. The clash between “old money” and “new money” manifests itself in the novel’s symbolic geography: East Egg represents the established aristocracy, West Egg the self-made rich. Meyer Wolfshiem and Gatsby’s fortune symbolize the rise of organized crime and bootlegging.
The American dream was originally about discovery, individualism, and the pursuit of happiness. In the 1920s, however, easy money and relaxed social values have corrupted this dream, especially on the East Coast. Gatsby’s dream of loving Daisy is ruined by the difference in their respective social statuses, his resorting to crime to make enough money to impress her, and the materialism that characterizes her lifestyle.
Just as Americans have given America meaning through their dreams for their own lives, Gatsby instills Daisy with a kind of idealized perfection that she neither deserves nor possesses. Gatsby longs to re-create a vanished past—his time in Louisville with Daisy—but is incapable of doing so. When his dream crumbles, all that is left for Gatsby to do is die; all Nick can do is move back to Minnesota, where American values have not decayed.
The Hollowness of the Upper Class: One of the major topics explored is how the new millionaires of the 1920s differ from the old aristocracy. In the novel, West Egg and its denizens represent the newly rich, while East Egg represents the old aristocracy. Fitzgerald portrays the newly rich as being vulgar, gaudy, ostentatious, and lacking in social graces and taste. Gatsby, for example, lives in a monstrously ornate mansion, wears a pink suit, drives a Rolls-Royce. In contrast, the old aristocracy possesses grace, taste, subtlety, and elegance, epitomized by the Buchanans’ tasteful home and the flowing white dresses of Daisy and Jordan Baker.
However, East Eggers prove themselves careless, inconsiderate bullies who are so used to money’s ability to ease their minds that they never worry about hurting others- the Buchanans simply move to a new house far away rather than to attend Gatsby’s funeral. Gatsby, on the other hand, whose recent wealth derives from criminal activity, has a sincere and loyal heart, remaining outside Daisy’s window until four in the morning in Chapter 7 simply to make sure that Tom does not hurt her. Ironically, Gatsby’s good qualities (loyalty and love) lead to his death, as he takes the blame for killing Myrtle rather than letting Daisy be punished.
Sight and Insight: As you read the novel, you will come across many images of blindness. The characters have little self-knowledge and even less knowledge of each other. Gatsby never truly sees either Daisy or himself, so blinded is he by his dream. The only characters who see =understand are Nick and Owl Eyes. The ever present eyes of Dr. Eckleburg seem to reinforce the theme that there is no all-seeing presence in the modern world.
The connection between events and weather: The weather matches the emotional and narrative tone of the story. Example: Gatsby and Daisy’s reunion begins amid-uprostred a pouring rain, proving awkward-trápnosť and melancholy; their love reawakens just as the sun begins to come out.
The connection between geographical location and social values: East Egg represents the old aristocracy, West Egg the newly rich, the valley of ashes the moral and social decay of America, and New York City the uninhibited, amoral quest for money and pleasure. The East is connected to the moral decay and social cynicism of New York, while the West (including Midwestern and northern areas such as Minnesota) is connected to more traditional social values and ideals.
Symbolism, allusions, myth:
The green light on Daisy’s dock: Situated at the end of Daisy’s East Egg dock and barely visible from Gatsby’s West Egg lawn, the green light represents Gatsby’s hopes and dreams for the future and also the American dream. Gatsby associates it with Daisy.
The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg: The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are a pair of fading, bespectacled eyes painted on an old advertising billboard over the valley of ashes. They may represent God staring down upon and judging American society. The connection between the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg and God exists only in George Wilson’s grief-stricken mind.
The valley of ashes: between West Egg and New York City; consists of a long stretch of desolate land created by the dumping of industrial ashes. It represents the moral and social decay that results from the pursuit of wealth. The valley of ashes also symbolizes the plight-stav of the poor /George Wilson/ who live among the dirty ashes and lose their vitality.
Gray colour: Gray is the color for dreariness. It symbolizes the lack of life and/or spirit. It is the place of no hope, no future.
White colour= false purity or goodness. Daisy and Jordan are always seen in white.
Red= blood and death, as in the bloody death of Myrtle.
Yellow= corruptness and things that go bad. Yellow leaves represent decay and corruptness. The yellow of Gatsby´s car represents corrupt dishonesty and deception.
Gold= wealth, but, more so, the show of wealth. Gatsby tried to win Daisy back by his parties and the show of wealth.
Tom= power, but mostly the abuse of the power that he has been given
Daisy= a fragile flower, because she is a fragile person who can´t make up her own mind.
The season of summer is hot= heat and boiling point of the story and or conflict.
The East and West eggs -An egg is white on the outside, and yellow on the inside= a false show of purity on the outside, but rotten and corrupt on the inside.
Genre: Novel; Modernist novel, Jazz Age novel, novel of manners
My own interpretation:major conflict • Gatsby has amassed a vast fortune in order to win the affections of the upper-class Daisy Buchanan, but his mysterious past stands in the way of his being accepted by her.
rising action • Gatsby’s lavish parties, Gatsby’s arrangement of a meeting with Daisy at Nick’s
climax • There are two possible climaxes: Gatsby’s reunion with Daisy in Chapters 5–6; the confrontation between Gatsby and Tom in the Plaza Hotel in Chapter 7.
falling action • Daisy’s rejection of Gatsby, Myrtle’s death, Gatsby’s murder
Important Quotations Explained
4. That’s my Middle West . . . the street lamps and sleigh bells in the frosty dark. . . . I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all—Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.
This important quote from Nick’s lengthy meditation in Chapter 9 brings the motif of geography in The Great Gatsby to a conclusion. Throughout the novel, places are associated with themes, characters, and ideas. The East is associated with a fast-paced lifestyle, decadent parties, crumbling moral values, and the pursuit of wealth, while the West and the Midwest are associated with more traditional moral values. In this moment, Nick realizes for the first time that though his story is set on the East Coast, the western character of his acquaintances (“some deficiency in common”) is the source of the story’s tensions and attitudes. He considers each character’s behavior and value choices as a reaction to the wealth-obsessed culture of New York. This perspective contributes powerfully to Nick’s decision to leave the East Coast and return to Minnesota, as the infeasibility of Nick’s Midwestern values in New York society mirrors the impracticality of Gatsby’s dream.
5. Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning—
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
These words conclude the novel and find Nick returning to the theme of the significance of the past to dreams of the future, here represented by the green light. He focuses on the struggle of human beings to achieve their goals by both transcending and re-creating the past. Yet humans prove themselves unable to move beyond the past: in the metaphoric language used here, the current draws them backward as they row forward toward the green light. This past functions as the source of their ideas about the future (epitomized by Gatsby’s desire to re-create 1917 in his affair with Daisy) and they cannot escape it as they continue to struggle to transform their dreams into reality. While they never lose their optimism (“tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther . . .”), they expend all of their energy in pursuit of a goal that moves ever farther away. This apt metaphor characterizes both Gatsby’s struggle and the American dream itself. Nick’s words register neither blind approval nor cynical disillusionment but rather the respectful melancholy that he ultimately brings to his study of Gatsby’s life.