6 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE GREAT GATSBY

By Isabella Tziolis and Maanya Maani


Fitzgerald’s famed 1925 novel, The Great Gatsby is a timeless tale of love, ambition, deceit and scandal. Though digging past the well-known storyline, there are some interesting themes, ideas and motifs hidden, such as;

American Dream

F. Scott Fitzgerald has used his novel The Great Gatsby to condemn the American dream through his usage of various literary devices to express his views. One literary device he has utilised to represent the American dream is contrast, a prominent contrast of the Great Gatsby is the geographical location as shown through the East and West Egg. The West egg is known to be where the new rich live, the entrepreneurs who are gaudy, extravagant and distasteful in their wealth like Gatsby with his Rolls Royce and ostentatious white mansion. It is evident in Fitzgerald’s novel that the newly rich are naïve in what to do with their wealth and essentially copy what they perceive the be the manners of the rich. This is an obvious condemnation of the materialism which plagues those in pursuit of the American Dream. Whilst contrastingly the East side is inhabited by those who have always known money. They appear as if they have dignity, class and manners things that are assumed to be lacking in West-eggers, but they are no better than there newly rich neighbors. Daisy and Tom and both cheaters, Daisy is a murder who blames her misdemeanor on another and Tom orchestrated Gatsby’s death. The use of contrast to highlight the differences between old and new money ultimately leads us to assume that the result of the wealth of the American dream is destruction and irreparable division.


Additionally, Fitzgerald uses the Valley of Ashes to symbolise the consequences of the self-absorption of the rich. Nick states “they were careless people, Tom and Daisy - they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated into their money ... and let other people clean up the mess they had made. A result of this representative carelessness is the Valley of Ashes. The wealthy have made their money on industry and carelessly tossed the waste, which consequently resulted in the grey, poverty-stricken stretch of land. The place and the people matter not at all to those who selfishly left their waste for others to live in and deal with. Fitzgerald views this as a consequence of the American Dream.


2. Symbolism of the Green Light

Located across from Gatsby’s mansion on Daisy’s East Egg dock, lies a green light which throughout the novel symbolises key themes and ideas. The green light most overtly symbolic of Gatsby’s unwavering love for Daisy. The location of this light is also key in revealing the idea that achieving daisy’s love is unattainable. On a broader sense, it could be said that the green light represents the American dream and how the end is at sight but never achievable.


3. East Egg vs West Egg

The strong literary device of contrast that is prominent in Fitzgerald’s Novel the Great Gatsby simultaneously establishes a clear divide between Old money (East Egg) and New money (West Egg) and condemns the American Dream. A largely emphasised contrast is the geographical location between the West and East Egg. The West egg is known to be where the new rich live, the entrepreneurs who are gaudy, extravagant and distasteful in their wealth like Gatsby with his Rolls Royce and ostentatious white mansion. It is evident in Fitzgerald’s novel that the newly rich are naïve in what to do with their wealth and essentially copy what they perceive the be the manners of the rich. This is an obvious condemnation of the materialism which plagues those in pursuit of the American Dream. Whilst contrastingly the East side is inhabited by those who have always known money. They appear as if they have dignity, class and manners things that are assumed to be lacking in West-eggers, but they are no better than their newly rich neighbours. Daisy and Tom are both cheaters, Daisy is a murder who blames her misdemeanour on another and Tom orchestrated Gatsby’s death. The use of contrast to highlight the differences between old and new money ultimately leads us to assume that the result of the wealth of the American dream is destruction, materialism and naivety.


4. Zelda Fitzgerald (F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife) was a major inspiration for Daisy

Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald was Fitzgerald's wife and is considered the inspiration behind Daisy. When she first met him, she was unimpressed by his low income, so much that she broke off their engagement to find a wealthier man. Only once he became famous did she decide to marry him. Fitzgerald mimics this idea through the relationship between Daisy and Gatsby. From the moment where Daisy and Gatsby met, Gatsby was never enough, hence leaving him for a richer man.


5. The role of Fitzgerald’s first love, Ginevra King

Ginevra King was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first love whilst he attended Princeton. She emulated what it was to be high class in the 1920s. She was a well-known socialite who left Fitzgerald to marry a millionaire. She contributed to Fitzgerald's ideas about the American dream as she encapsulated what it was like to live when you have achieved the American dream, being wealthy, popular, admired and able to do what you want.


6. Tom - the embodiment of the achievements of the American Dream.

The Great Gatsby was written in the context of the 1920s where the American dream was a paramount goal of the time. The character of Tom Buchanan embodies the achievement of the dream of money and wealth and shows this through his arrogance to those lower than him, his superiority complex and desire to impose power overall in his life. Tom had everything that was considered to be important to a man in the 1920's; a wife that was an accessory, a mistress that made him feel superior and a large, extravagant house which showed of his wealth. Although the power and wealth that was considered imperative to achieving the American Dream essentially led to his moral demise and ruined any chance of rekindling a good relationship with Daisy, It also led him to get Wilson to kill Gatsby. Ultimately, The character of Tom shows us that the American dream can cause society to change their morals and exhibit actions that were considered detrimental to society.

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