This is a novel that I’m sure many people have read, and in my opinion (if you haven’t already) it’s definitely a must read. I studied this text as a part of my English Literature A Level course. The class that I was in studied this text as a part of the genre of tragedy, however this could be classified in numerous genres. A story of the futility of the American Dream, a tragic love story, however you interpret the book, there are so many powerful messages that F.Scott Fitzgerald portrays through his writing. Of course, the film adaptation staring Leonardo DiCaprio is also worth a watch to gauge how different readers have interpreted the text.
The text is narrated not by the title character, but his neighbour Nick Carraway. Throughout the novel, Gatsby is portrayed as a mysterious character, who doesn’t quite ‘fit’ in with the upper class citizens of West Egg. By offering descriptions of Gatsby through the eyes of the narrator, the reader never fully understands Gatsby as they might if he were to offer his own responses to events. This style of writing adds to the tragic nature of the book, how can Gatsby be fully accepted into the Upper class world of America when he is unable to be understood in his own novel?
Rather than having an antagonist or ‘villain’, I’d suggest that the hierarchal system that exists within the texts setting, linking to that of 1920’s America, is what causes the catastrophic events within the texts. Many of the Upper class characters are unlikable because of the ways in which they act and the values that they hold. I’d argue that Fitzgerald could have included hundreds of different characters and Gatsby would still fail within the system that he is placed. I don’t want to give too much away if you haven’t read the book for yourself, but I’d love to hear your opinions about what/who you think the villain(s) are!
There are many points of action within the text, there was always something to analyse when reading this. I’ve only read the text myself for studying purposes, but I’d definitely re-read it in my own time. It’s not my ‘go-to’ style of book but it’s easy to follow and exciting at the same time. For such a short text, Fitzgerald is able to explore numerous events and create a narrative that is both gripping and powerful.
“And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past“F.Scott Fitzgerald (1925) The Great Gatsby