“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a widely considered masterpiece of American literature. Set in Long island, 1922, The Great Gatsby portrays a time in which massive war-born wealth and cheap liquor give birth to the great American party period, where booze and bobbed hair reign supreme in newly rich New York. This sets the scene for the tragic love story between ” The golden girl”, Daisy Buchanan and war hero, James Gatz (Gatsby). The Great Gatsby is an interesting novel due to the ideas it presents that our society can still relate to today. Media manipulation, money before love and fame because of nothing more than wealth, are all ideas presented in the novel and they are all ideas that our society is notorious for today.
Daisy and Gatsby were pre-war lovers that become separated by the war and the overbearing difference in social class, Gatsby was poor and believed he was unworthy of Daisy, determined to make something of himself Gatsby leaves. Daisy is madly in love with Gatsby, but marries Tom Buchanan, the richest man in east egg, straight after she gets a letter from Gatsby, asking her to wait until he becomes a rich man so they can be wed. Scott Fitzgerald uses this situation to portray a major ideology in the novel and of the time; that enough money can buy love. This is still relevant today as we constantly see Hollywood’s rich and famous will marry not out of love, but out of the desire for publicity and money.
Gatsby, now a rich man who hosts extravagant parties every weekend but barely reveals his identity, is likely the most talked about person in New York, yet almost no one knows anything real about him. Throughout the novel our bank of information surrounding Gatsby grows, as we know nothing of him at the beginning, wild rumors spread around by the city folk New York are the only prior knowledge we have of Gatsby. “Well, they say he’s a nephew or a cousin of the Keiser Wilhelm’s, that’s where all the money comes from” This quote from minor character Catherine, shows how little most people know about Gatsby, and how willing and excited they are to spread false rumor.
Fitzgerald deliberately presents Gatsby as a man of mystery and intrigue to show us how known, yet unknown he is. This is effective in creating uncertainty in the reader about Gatsby’s character, as we start to feel as if no information received about Gatsby, even from Gatsby’s own mouth, can be trusted. It’s the same case today with the media’s tendency to manipulate and exaggerate, combined with possibly edited and misleading sources of information such as photographs and video, separating the real from the fake becomes almost impossible.
The Great Gatsby is unique in the sense that it was not written as Gatsby’s own experience, but the experience of character who’s role in the plot is more to observe than to intervene. Nick Carraway is Daisy’s cousin and was a solider of the Great war who, after the conflict, joins the bond business and later moves to West Egg becoming Gatsby’s Neighbor. Nick becomes the bridge between Gatsby and Daisy, having connections to them both, yet not interfering with their lives in the sense a character like Tom does.
We read the entire novel out of his experience and this allows us to view a completely separate perspective to that of the true main characters, and unlike a third person writing style, we are also given the opinions, biases and thoughts of the man who is “Within, and without.” The purpose of using this writing style is to show us insight in to the lives of all main characters, while still delivering a story in a first person perspective. This technique is effective in making the reader feel connected to the text and in reading of Nick’s experiences putting you in the situation whist still showing Gatsby’s and Daisy’s life as opposed to a restrictive first person perspective following only one.
The Great Gatsby was a definitive novel at the time of its publication, and is just as relevant today. Gatsby was in the end, a celebrity only due to his large wealth and even larger parties, but when misunderstanding holds him to blame for a horrific car accident, people lose interest in the man they once found fascinating. Gatsby is very relatable to a modern day celebrity: he was famous because of wealth, had his relationship ended because of money, was subject to public rumor, scandal, and in the end forgotten, and replaced by the next rich man to host a big party.
When Gatsby dies at the end of the novel, the only one to attend his funeral is our narrator, Nick Carraway. Fitzgerald does this to show that, Gatsby; a man with hundreds of acquaintances and thousands of followers, had in fact only one true friend, only one person who knew anything at all about him and still cared after his death. Celebrities, the Gatsbys of today, may think they have hundreds of friends, even millions amongst fans, but hardly any truly know them, and those who do, like Daisy, usually care more about wealth and status than friendship.