So because I’m a huge nerd I decided to start reading the four texts we have to study next year for english lit a little early. Upon completion of the first novel ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald I found myself truly mesmerised by this novel and I struggled to realize why. It is one of those rare books that you pick up, you don’t understand anything about the characters, you aren’t identify a plot of any form and yet you stay with the book because you feel yourself unable to put it down, you want to learn more and more.
Because over the summer despite still attending a few classes and reading all of my wonderful novels that unfortunately got pushed aside whilst I completed my exams in May and June, I still wasn’t able to grasp the text I decided to write a mini essay (of some sorts by my own standards) on what I perceive of ‘The Great Gatsby far. Hell this is the most fun I’ve had all summer:
What is so great about James Gatz? A question we must first ask ourselves if any attempt to analysis ‘The great Gatsby’ is too be taken seriously. Least of all what is so great and powerfully awe taking about him that makes Nick Carraway, a small time business man from Minnesota, want to write a book about a man who he hardly knew, who anybody hardly knew? Was he captivated by the potential tragic love affair that entwined between Gatsby or Daisy, was it Gatsby’s eccentric character that struck a chord within him, or is it something deeper, something below the surface that any normal self-absorbed reader will fail to ever comprehend?
The fragmented nature of the novel throughout is what I noticed foremost about the novel and what displeases readers and pushes them off the tracks off completion. But the question lingers does the fragmented structure and the stream of consciousness throughout the novel shows conformity with the modernist movement, and consequently the confusing disillusionment of society after the war, displaying the drifting purposelessness felt by a shattered generation, and that wealth and society in turn do not matter, you are all doomed to wars and natures cause’s and yet somehow the divide between classes still remains an infinite barrier, guarding nothingness.
Or is it that he realizes through both Jordan and Daisy, that although they (and other people living in America during that time period) may have everything they want and need, yet they are disinterested in progressing further, are purposefully drifting carelessly and fruitlessly through their lives, they are at a loss to think of their future lives as any different, they are drifters, dreamers each own individual character trapped within the cruel vortex of the past. Maybe within Gatsby, Nick still recognizes a glimmer of hope, a man driven by passionate desire and he speaks of these quality’s highly ‘heightened sensitivity to the promises of life’ and he yearns for a life like Gatsby’s strangely jealous of the mysterious man always lurking within the background. Placing Gatsby within these new realms and bounds of hope, especially him seeking it in the community of supposedly wealthy ‘west egg’ thematically suggests that Gatsby has become yet another victim of the ‘American Dream’ the idealistic tradition, which is a position idolized by many, even maybe Nick.
Fitzgerald contrasts Daisy’s obvious lack of energy and desire with cynicism and satire of Gatsby, Daisy only know wants material possessions, those that are generated through the new frontier of America and become tediously exhausting, this adds yet to another layer of the books complicated underlying, despite it only being a short novel.
I believe that fundamental Nick was drawn to Gatsby through many similarities in which he saw in him which he did not know about. Both men appear isolated from life, Nick always in the lavish parties he entered at Gatsby and after his death, as well as being emotionally shut off but having a depth to him, which he reveals to us through his truth in the novel and trough writing about himself ‘I am one of the few honest people who I have ever known’ although we are left to wonder that although Nick doesn’t divert much away from the truth, they are some events played down upon paper to suit his purposes. Nick presents himself as a man with no real heated emotions, no passion or anger, no joy or hope. He portrays Gatsby as the on full of desire, lust and Gatsby embodies the emotions that nick dare not give in too, furthering my questioning of his superficial depth, which could mirror the outlook of American civilians.
I wrote this down within about twenty minutes upon completion of the books for the first time, I know that it is by far from a perfect essay, it is just fragments of the demented ramblings of my mind and although I lack order and precision, planning and approach, I thought I’d share my words with you and see if anybody else understands why ‘The Great Gatsby’ is so, well, great.
I feel it does deserve it’s title as ‘One of the three great American novels’ (shared with ‘Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D Salinger and ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ by Mark Twain) Hopefully I’ll be able to advance my understanding of the text next term. Until then I guess I’ll continue to let the story constantly drift within the conscienceness of my brain and try to engage with the mysterious and yet beautiful work of Fitzgerald.