10 Things You Should Know About The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

10 Things You Should Know About The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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  1. The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is considered one of the best American novels of all time. It was published in 1925, and set in the summer of 1922 at the North Shore of Long Island, New York City.

    1. Historical Context: During World War I, people were enjoying economic prosperity. The roaring 20s was a great time to be alive because the economy was doing great and the outcome of the war was optimistic. Plus, Prohibition made people who illegally sold alcohol millionaires, like Gatsby.
       
    2. Great American Novel: The Great Gatsby is considered one of the novels that is the epitome of the Great American Novel. The Great American Novel is said to capture the American zeitgeist of the time. Other examples of the Great American Novel are The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.
       
    3. Jay Gatsby: Gatsby is from North Dakota and moved to New York with the constant desire to be rich and sophisticated. When he left for World War I, his love, Daisy Buchanan, promises to wait for him, but rather marries rich millionaire Tom Buchanan. Gatsby is the talk of the town, changed his name from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby after the war to reinvent himself, and throws lavish parties hoping that Daisy will attend. Gatsby is a loyal man with good intentions which is a grave contrast to Daisy’s husband, Tom Buchanan. Gatsby is the epitome of the falling of the American Dream with his demise at the end of the novel by a mechanic.
       
    4. Daisy Buchanan: Daisy Buchanan is Gatsby’s Love and the cousin of Nick Carraway. She is extremely beautiful, but extremely superficial and cares about money, materialism and what society thinks of her more than love and relationships. She chose to marry rich millionaire Tom Buchanan over Jay Gatsby, and chooses Tom over Gatsby again later in the book when Tom reveals that Gatsby’s money came from bootlegging alcohol, which Daisy finds embarassing. She is capable of love, but it falls short in regards to her priorities. She is the epitome of the East Egg aristogracy.
       
    5. Nick Carrway: Nick seems out of place in the East Coast. He is from the midwest, like Gatsby, and lives next door to Gatsby in the West Egg. Nick is also the narrator of the novel who points out the "distortion" that occurs in New York society. He is young and a good, objective, fair-tempered voice for the entirety of the novel.
       
    6. The Significance of Location: There are a few location-based themes that Fitzgerald adds to his novel. One is of the contrast between the midwest and the east coast: the midwest represents the eager yet compassionate people while the east coast represents the harsh, strict society that banishes people but is also a front for inner turmoil. Nick and Gatsby are from the midwest and are viewed as the "good guys" of the novel.

      Within New York there is the West Egg which represents new money, the East Egg which represents old money and aristocracy, and the Valley of the Ashes which represents the lack of morals and society in America and the inhumane quest for money and pleasure. Fitzgerald implies that the West is good (West Egg and midwest) and that the East is corrupt (East Egg and east coast). Unfortunately the characters all yearn to be a part of the high society East Coast.
       

    7. Great GatsbyTechnology: The Valley of the Ashes, also symbolic for the moral decay of America, is where industrial parts are dumped and left to decay. It lies between the West Egg and the East egg. Fitzgerald is warning people that the pursuit of wealth and technology, and indulging in riches will only be lead to their downfall, like it does with Gatsby. People who are poor like George Wilson, live in the Valley of the Ashes and lose themselves. Fitzgerald is forewarning that this obsession with technology and society will turn America into a "moral wasteland."
       
    8. The Fading of the American Dream: Underneath the blatant theme of unattained love lies the theme of the failure of the American Dream. Fitzgerald shows the 1920s as a decade of sin, where people indulge in pleasure and push to be rich, not to mention the jazz music and wild parties that Gatsby himself throws. The American Dream which once was about working your way to the top to make a decent living, is now an obsession with society and materialism which Fitzgerald symbolizes as a failure with the death of Gatzby.
       
    9. F. Scott Fitzgerald: Nick Carraway was supposedly based off of Fitzgerald himself, and Daisy was supposedly modeled after Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda. Fitzgerald uses characters to describe different parts of his life and his personality. Gatsby is supposed to represent the side of him that moved to the big city in order to make it big.
       
    10. Film Adaptation: In 1974, the Great Gatsby was turned into a film with Daisy played by Mia Farrow and Gatsby played by Robert Redford. Bruce Dern played Tom Buchanan and Sam Waterston played Nick Carraway. In 2011, another film will also start production in 3D with Daisy played by Carey Mulligan, Gatsby played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and Nick played by Tobey McGuire.

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