The History and Idea Behind The Great Gatsby
Great works of literature stand the test of time. One such work is “The Great Gatsby”, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Although it took years for its impact to be fully recognized, it now has immense popularity and staying power amongst readers worldwide.
Author of this novel, Francis Scott Fitzgerald was born approximately 123 years ago on September 24th, 1896 in St. Paul Minnesota. Even though his family wasn’t in too bad of a financial state thanks to his mother’s sizeable inheritance, Fitzgerald eventually left Minnesota for Princeton and then, later on, moved to New York. When he was 22 years old he found love in a girl named Zelda Sayre, but it wasn’t until he published his first book “This Side of Paradise”, that Zelda thought he was worthy to marry her.
After his writing career blossomed, he and Zelda started to enjoy their celebrity status, however, this lifestyle came with the price. For numerous years Fitzgerald struggled with addiction to alcohol and depression, which destroyed both his career and his health. Eventually, all of these factors contributed to his death after a heart attack killed him on December 21st, 1940 when he was only 44 years old.
Many aspects of Fitzgerald’s life is mirrored in The Great Gatsby whether it’s the character traits, story settings or even the conflicts themselves. When The Great Gatsby was first released it wasn’t received very well and the number of copies sold was very poor. After Fitzgerald died, things were even worse considering that many forgot about him completely. But, When the US Army entered World War 2, the things changed, and the reason for that is the fact that they gave the copies of The Great Gatsby to soldiers in order to improve their morale. In 1944, this novel had only sold a little over 100 copies, but today the book regularly sells half a million copies per year.
The Great Gatsby is set in the period of American history known as “the roaring twenties” when there were some huge changes in culture and lifestyle. Now, this is an era marked by a tremendous change in the country’s culture and lifestyle. Also known as the Jazz age, this era was extremely fast-paced and dynamic. The economy began to grow by quickly, and people were starting to move out from the countryside right into the cities which resulted in the country’s urban population outnumbering its rural population, something that never happened before.
All of this helped American society to be more free, to have more time, and more disposable income compared to any previous generation in history. This created an even bigger gap between to classes, the rich elite, and the poor. The aforementioned elite enjoyed spending their money on automobiles, luxury houses, phones, etc., while those less fortunate in the lower classes suffered greatly.
The themes in this novel really focus on societal influences that were dominant in this period of time. Every single character in The Great Gatsby embodied a certain class, they had their values, fascinating behaviors, as well as the ideals and moral, or in some cases, a lack of them. This exactly is why The Great Gatsby is a perfect novel for us to analyze, all these collisions of two completely different classes, both chasing the American dream is what this book is truly about.
The story starts with the narrator, a charming young man named Nick Carraway moving to New York City. After he got a handwritten invitation from the mysterious host, Nick attends the first of Gatsby’s many parties, where these two men become very close friends. Tom Buchanan, the husband of Nick’s beautiful cousin Daisy makes not so smart decision and introduces Nick to his mistress Myrtle. Inevitably, rumors about Gatsby’s cryptic past start to spread, especially after Nick meets Gatsby’s business partner, Mr. Wolfsheim.
Daisy and Tom both attend one of Gatsby’s parties and end up having a horrible time. Daisy and Gatsby confess their love to each other, Tom finds out about this and loses his mind over his wife’s affair. At the very end of the novel, Gatsby and Tom battle over Daisy while Daisy, well, she chooses Tom. Daisy kills Myrtle whilst driving one of Gatsby’s cars. George Wilson, Myrtle’s husband, shoots Gatsby in the pool and eventually kills himself too. Disappointed that almost nobody attended his friends funeral, Nick returns home to the Midwest.
At the beginning of the novel, Jay Gatsby was a perfect example of someone who brought the term “American dream” to reality. He was an extremely rich, and charismatic businessman who built everything he had from scratch. But even though everyone knew him, nobody truly knew who Jay Gatsby was. The best proof of that are numerous stories of where he came from, how did he earn all that money, etc.
Nick Caraway, who is also a novel’s narrator is an incredibly intelligent and talented young man who not too long ago returned from the World War after finishing his duties at the army. Even though he was born and raised in the Midwest, he eventually moves to New York in order to pursue his dream of working as a bonds tradesman. In this novel, he is portrayed as a very honest, honorable and unbiased man who is extremely social and has no trouble making friends.
Daisy is everything we love to hate when it comes to superficial people. She is self-absorbed, egotistical, gets into fights easily, and throws a temper tantrum every time she doesn’t get what she wants. Despite being married to the incredibly rich, but pretentions Buchanan, Daisy has a fling with her ex-boyfriend, Jay Gatsby. The most fascinating thing about Daisy is that she rarely displays any kind of emotion throughout this novel, well, except boredom. When things got heated, and her husband confronted Gatsby, she extremely quickly abandons her former lover, which perfectly shows what kind of a person she truly was.
Daisy’s husband, Tom, was a very successful, but also a very arrogant businessman who was obsessed with manipulating everyone and everything around him. He never respected anyone and from time to time he abused both his wife and his mistress. Considering that he looked down on anyone who wasn’t wealthy as he was, we can confidently say that he was a perfect representation of the elite in that period of time.
George and Myrtle Wilson
George was a humble man who owned a small garage and gas station in the social wasteland that is known as the valley of ashes. Even though he was respectful and loving towards everyone, his wife Myrtle doesn’t appreciate that and continues to cheat on him with Tim Buchanan, hoping that this affair will be her way out of the valley of ashes.
Daisy’s best friends from adolescence, Jordan Bakers is a professional golfer who represented the women of the newer age. She doesn’t play by the social conventions and doesn’t hesitate to speak freely about anything she wants. Even though she got involved romantically with Nick, eventually they broke up after he realized she wasn’t really honest and that she didn’t mind getting her hands dirty to get whatever she wanted.