So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past . . .
I feel quite conflicted about this book. I’m giving The Great Gatsby 3 stars mostly for its beautiful prose. Other than that, I have quite a few problems with this one.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to take out of this book. I also am aware that Fitzgerald was a part of the post-World War l Lost Generation of America: brooding, depressed, and generally hopeless of society. I am not sure what his exact reason was for writing The Great Gatsby, but I do know that there’s a strong disapproval toward the American Dream in it. You see, Gatsby’s “single dream” is to get Daisy back, but in the end, it’s all pointless. In this way, Daisy represents the American Dream and relays the author’s belief that such a dream is just that . . . only a dream.
. . . so he gave that up, and only the dead dream fought on as the afternoon slipped away, trying to touch what was no longer tangible, struggling unhappily, undespairingly, toward that lost voice across the room.
*spoilers ahead!* Furthermore, romantic relationships outside of marriage are definitely an issue in this one. Daisy herself is married, and yet Gatsby is still determined all throughout the book to have her. Tom, Daisy’s wife, also has a mistress and visits her often. (I despise Tom.) Though not unrealistic of the Roaring Twenties, the immorality is still something that should be addressed.
I do find it quite interesting that Fitzgerald actually considered naming this novel Under the Red, White, and Blue, which would have been almost cruel in irony and sarcasm. One 1925 reviewer of the story wrote that everyone in the story was “more or less rotten” and wished that “there had been somebody good in the book.” In the end, that is how I feel about it all as well. The Great Gatsby reflects the depravity of the human condition, but it also gives no hope. Fitzgerald leaves us to moan and to wallow in unhappiness in the same manner he left Jay Gatsby.
Note: I really appreciated my friends on Goodreads who shared their perspectives on the book. One wrote, “I think [The Great Gatsby] tends to grow on people the older they get.” I’m certainly willing to give this one another try in the future, and I’m sure my opinions will have changed at least somewhat by then.
Recommended for . . .
☐ Mature readers
☐ Lovers of classics
☐ Those interested in the Jazz Age
Have you ever read The Great Gatsby? If so, what did you think of it? What books did you discover through high school or college English courses? Do you remember what the last classic you read was? Let me know in the comments!