A Critical Review of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a universal and timeless literary masterpiece. Fitzgerald writes the novel during his time, about his time, and showing the bitter deterioration of his time. A combination of the 1920s high society lifestyle and the desperate attempts to reach its illusionary goals through wealth and power creates the essence behind The Great Gatsby.
Nick Carraway, the narrator, moves to a quaint neighborhood outside of New York City called West Egg; his distant cousin and his former colleague, Daisy and Tom, live in a physically identical district across the bay called East Egg. The affluent couple quickly exposes Nick to the corrupting effect of wealth and materialism. He often serves as a sophisticated observer at several fashionable parties, yet he remains uninvolved in the hedonistic lifestyle. Jay Gatsby, the man who gives his name to the book, lives in an extraordinary estate adjacent to Nick, where he incessantly welcomes guests to sumptuous parties. Nick develops a fixation and a selfless devotion to Gatsby. Gatsby is a dreamer, absorbed by the past, and Nick reluctantly aids him in attempts to fulfill his ideal. The impractical illusions, in the end, destroy Gatsby and lead Nick to see the ultimate manifestation of corrupt American society.
In The Great Gatsby, greed and corruption centralize the theme. Fitzgerald uses the contemporary public as a core of life for his characters. Gatsby’s intent to win a love from his past by the display of lavish possessions results in annihilation. He was doomed from the beginning by his avaricious wishful thinking. Gatsby’s approach to attain his goal was encumbered by immoral manners. The way he made money, tried to find love, and lived his life were all completely selfless, yet unjust. His bootlegging business earned him millions but also repelled everyone from his funeral. The countless years Gatsby worked to earn his fortune to win back his beloved abruptly ended with a decisive close. And the lavish parties with caterers, bartenders, and orchestras never drew his “golden girl” to the scene.
The characters of The Great Gatsby are in constant search of their own identities—a second theme. They think that the only ingredient to happiness is wealth and possession. At the beginning of the novel, certain images of the characters are embedded in the reader’s mind, but as each one approaches a goal, he or she becomes more absorbed in desire and shows a shocking change in temperament. When Nick went to Tom and Daisy’s house for dinner one evening at the beginning of the novel, Daisy attempted to make plans with Nick. She said, “What’ll we plan? What do people plan? (p.25).” She acts naïve and innocent with no sense of independence. Contradicting this episode, she kills a woman in a car accident and goes home to, literally, eat cold chicken. She is in constant dispute with herself; she...