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Book Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

By F. Scott Fitzgerald

Introduction: A Love Story Beyond Comparison

In the realm of novels claiming to be the greatest love story of all time, only “The Great Gatsby” can genuinely lay claim to that title. While set against the backdrop of the dazzling 1920s in America, this novel transcends its romantic narrative, delving into deeper themes that resonate long after the final page is turned.

A Glimpse into the Roaring Twenties

Narrated by Nick Carraway, a war veteran and member of an affluent family, “The Great Gatsby” unfolds in East Egg, a slightly less opulent area compared to West Egg, where Gatsby’s lavish mansion stands. Gatsby, a man of immense wealth, hosts extravagant parties that attract the entire town. Yet, he remains an enigma, never fully known to anyone. Behind his facade lies a dark secret, an insatiable desire that will ultimately lead to his downfall.

Beyond a Love Story: Reflections on Hollow Lives

While drawing parallels to “Romeo and Juliet,” I believe “The Great Gatsby” surpasses the confines of a simple love story. It serves as a poignant reflection on the emptiness of a life consumed by leisure. Both tales grapple with the desire to control time: Juliet yearns to prolong her present, aware of the bleak future awaiting her and Romeo, while Gatsby seeks to recreate a glorious past, yearning for a beautiful future. Gatsby’s famous line, “Can’t change the past? Why, of course, you can,” struck a chord with me, as I’ve often wished for a return to the past, yearning for a better time.

Poetic Prose and Flawed Characters

Fitzgerald’s writing exudes a poetic quality akin to a symphony of literary brilliance. Each sentence washes over the reader with its lush descriptions, evoking a powerful emotional response. However, unlike “Romeo and Juliet,” the characters in “The Great Gatsby” are deeply flawed and challenging to sympathize with. Yet, this is where the beauty of the book lies. It’s natural to despise Daisy Buchanan and Tom and even develop a hint of disillusionment with Gatsby, who demands more than Daisy’s admission of love—he requires her to confess that she never loved her husband, Tom, throughout their five-year marriage. Nevertheless, Gatsby, in my eyes, remains great until the very end.

The Irony of the Idle Rich

Ironically, the idle wealthy survive the narrative, a fact that further fuels the reader’s indignation regarding the world’s cruelty and injustice. The rich continue their carefree existence, as that is the essence of the American dream, right? Yet Fitzgerald exposes the horrors of such carelessness, depicting them as individuals who “smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money and vast carelessness.” Remarkably, Tom and Daisy aren’t malicious in their carelessness—it is simply their nature. And therein lies the tragedy. They lack concern for their daughter, Myrtle, Gatsby, and even each other. Their incapacity to care distinguishes “The Great Gatsby” from “Romeo and Juliet,” where the lovers sacrifice themselves, leading to the healing of Verona. In Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, tragedy leaves nothing unbroken.

Chasing Dreams and the Unworthy Pursuit

While some may find “The Great Gatsby” disheartening due to the protagonists’ failure to achieve their aspirations, Fitzgerald’s core message isn’t that dreams lead to despair. Instead, he emphasizes that pursuing an unworthy dream inevitably leads to tragedy.

About The Author

F. Scott Fitzgerald, an iconic figure of the Jazz Age, left an indelible mark on American literature with his evocative storytelling and insightful exploration of the American Dream. Known for his masterpiece “The Great Gatsby,” Fitzgerald’s life was both glamorous and tragic, mirroring the themes of his works. From his meteoric rise to fame to his struggles with alcoholism and personal turmoil, Fitzgerald’s tumultuous journey embodies the highs and lows of the Roaring Twenties, making him an enduring symbol of the Lost Generation. His profound literary contributions continue to resonate with readers, capturing the essence of an era defined by extravagance, disillusionment, and the pursuit of elusive dreams.