Gatsby, Gatsby, Gatsby. Oh where do I begin with this one. Let me just start off by saying I do not like The Great Gatsby as a whole. I would not read it in a box, or with a fox, or in a house or with a mouse, or for a class, because frankly it could kiss my... RING! (Now, now, mind out of the gutter everyone). That said, I understand why some, alright, a lot of people like Gatsby. But having a fanbase more toxic than My Hero Academia does not help either in establishing legitimacy in why people like The Great Gatsby.
Meet Nick. Carraway's the name fantasizing about poor old dear departed Gatsby is his game. What this sport has planned is to recount about how Gatsby was such a good sport to him and how he is a legend, despite being a bit of a jerk, a showboat, a playboy, who made his wealth illegally by getting involved in bootleg alcohol and drug trade, as well as organised crime, but let us ignore this for now (that is, the entirety of this novel). I might as well add that though he is a round character, Gatsby, as well as Nick, are static characters. Aside from Gatsby and Nick, who is there as a cast of characters? The answer, quite simply, is a fool, a beautiful little fool (guess who this one is), a pair of breasts and a fool. Let us go into these characters to save a lot more text describing them then they are worth, shall we? Fool numero uno: Tom, he is a jerk, as Fitzgerald intended and does a good job at writing him, but is chucked into the overflowing bin of static and flat antagonists, glossing over some key elements and questions that remain, especially concerning (SPOILER!) his affair with the pair of breasts, Myrtle. Myrtle is literally a pair of breasts, nothing less, nothing more (alright, maybe something more, but this is Neocities, I will keep this to PG-13 at most). Then there is, Daisy, who, apart from being Gatsby's main love interest and is also named after a brand of sour cream, wants to be a "beautiful little fool." I must apologize to everyone who loves that line but this *THIS* is about the cheesiest line I have heard ever since One Piece got cancelled here in the United States. (Yo ho ho! I am a bit bum bummed by this being one of the best lines)! That leaves Fool Too: Electric Boogaloo - Jordan, quite forgettable in all honesty, apart from being the casual love interest of Nick and Daisy's best friend and a means of witty comic relief, she does not have too major of a role. I might as well ask what do all of these characters have in common? THEY ARE ALL STATIC!!! And while there is nothing wrong in having a novel with nothing but static characters, it is very hard to create a rich text with a significant message to the audience (unless your name is Ayn Rand, but that is another story). So, as you most probably can tell, I dislike all of the characters here, which I know is what Fitzgerald was going for for Daisy, Tom, Myrtle and quite possibly Jordan, but it is debatable (that is, literary critics are unsure) that Gatsby was intended to come off this way, and it is almost definite that Nick was to be sympathized with. But no, I take to none of them well, I do not understand them, they just act.
So, the story opens pretty with Nick telling us he is an unreliable narrator is he is in a mental institution. He then adds that some guy named Gatsby is the best sport he had ever met. In earnest, this explains *A LOT* about Nick and why he seems to be a goody two shoes. He is not the common man who he wants to be seen as. Like the rest, he is an aristocrat who cares little aside from his direct goals: to be Gatsby's right-hand man. That said, I will give Fitzgerald credit for making Gatsby larger than life in Nick's eyes, which I believe was likely his intention. This only foreshadows who Gatsby really is. Back to the plot: Gatsby likes to throw parties. LOTS and LOTS of exuberant parties. Why might Gatsby have these parties? Easy: Daisy, a long lost romantic interest from Gatsby's past. Now married to Tom, Gatsby still fantasizes about Daisy and being with her. It is an interesting, if simplistic, set up for a conflict. Though I do have problems with it later. For example, I find it relatively contrived that Daisy returns the same feelings, even though Tom does not treat her the best, Gatsby lies several years in the past. In fact, I find it interesting that Daisy remembers Gatsby, though not immediately (this occurs later, though). Before this occurs, Gatsby takes Nick to meet some of his friends, one organized crime boss Meyer Wolfsheim, while Wolfsheim does not disclose much about himself personally, he does make reference to the production of bootleg alcohol, commonly associated with Gatsby's parties. Additionally, other elements commonly associated with organized crime, including amoral and relentless acts of murder. After this Gatsby and Nick go back to Gatsby's residence, where Nick learns of Gatsby's past, named James Gatz, he was born to farmers of no economic standing. He goes off on his own and by chance saves a man to be shipwrecked, Dan Cody, a man of immense wealth, but while they grow close, by the Cody passes on, Gatsby is cut out of his inheritance. While the rest is unknown, it is known that Wolfsheim was involved sooner or later. With this backstory divulged, Nick learns about where Daisy comes in. It was whenGatsby entered World War I before being sent to Europe, Gatsby and some of his comrades are taken to a residence of a rich family, among the daughters, there she was - Daisy. Gatsby immediately takes a liking to her, but their time together was only for a night. As Gatsby wouldsoon leave, it soon becomes a goal for Gatsby to find Daisy again. In the meantime, she married Tom. So when Gatsby returned and finally found her, he was entirely surprised by this. Now by this point, as romantic as this may sound (I know a couple of people who would ship Gatsby with themselves), Gatsby's infatuation is what gets him in trouble, what is worse is that he has no ethics or any logic that may cause to be restrained when it comes to this. And while Gatsby is to be viewed as a tragic hero when it comes to this, but I honestly think he had this coming for him. I am sorry to say this, but that is just how I feel. That said, thisleads to a set up to the most intimate encounter between Gatsby and Daisy yet. After inviting Daisy to Gatsby's place and meeting up at Nick's residence, which has been severely spruced up for the occasion, Gatsby and Daisy see each other face to face for the first time in a long while. At first Gatsby backs down and leaves the house into the rain, only to have Nick tell him to go back in, which he does. The conversation was about as natural as you would think given Gatsby is nervous. At least Fitzgerald was good inhis pacing and by this point the dialogue had improved and felt more natural for the situation to the point where someone not only can visualize the event, but also feel it. From there, Gatsby and Daisy decide that they are lovers. Now to break the news to Tom, who all the while has been having the affair with Myrtle. Gatsby and Tom meet by renting a room in New York City nearby for a meal. After talking about trivial things first, Gatsby then professes his unyielding love for Daisy and Tom initially scoofs, but then becomes enraged not just at Gatsby, but also Daisy. After a tense afternoon, Gatsby and Tom leave, with Gatsby and Daisy going alone, while driving, Gatsby hitsomeone who, O H M Y G O D ! ! ! happens to be Myrtle, Tom happens upon this scene, and feels embittered by it, Myrtle's husband also wants to know who had done this, but after being informed thatit was a yellow automobile which hit Myrtle, Tom could only assume it was Gatsby. Soon thereafter, Gatsby lies low and seeks solitude but his misdeed catches up to him and he gets shot. Themain story ends, but Nick does give us a memorable last quote "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." Quite beautifully written if I do say so myself. (I knowIglossed over severaldetailssymbols andplot points, I just covered what I liked and disliked in summary form).
The problem with Gatsby is not so much that it is bad. It is that so many people say that this might be one of the best books ever written. And while I can indeed understand why people like Gatsby. There are too many oversimplifications in the plot which could have been extrapolated upon, as opposed to other elements, namely on Gatsby and a deeper dive into Daisy's feelings for Gatsby, as opposed to making her a flat and static character. The same could be said for Tom and even Nick and Myrtle. Jordan serves mainly to provide commentary and some witty insights at times and her role is fine as is, but I would hardly have made her among the cast of main characters, rather, there should have been some kind of differentiation between her and the rest. I feel that character development could fill this void and by automatically introducing Tom, Daisy, Nick and Myrtle as already well known and developed characters aside from the generalizations that we, as readers, have would only help deepen Gatsby's mysterious nature and background. Gatsby's role as a MacGuffin would take up the slack for a lack of development until half way through the book. Could I have pulled this off? Most probably not. I would not know where to start for creative writing. I just know the technical elements and structures of plots. So, that is my main problem: character. But as I have stated before, dialogue at times was not of the best quality, it felt lopsided, much like many "pseudoclassics", such as What is to be Done?, In the Lair of the White Worn (which suffers from bad everything) and Paul Clifford (Famous for "It was a dark and stormy night..."). What makes Gatsby different from the rest is the level of analysis that could be done on it, that the amount of elements used (such as imagery and symbolism), whether intentional or not (as is most often the case in works of fiction) add some degree of complexity to the story and allows for multiple literary interpretations. That said, a story must function extremely well on two levels to be considered a great book for the masses, Gatsby gets the deep down meaning, through its openness, spot-on, but at a surface level is simplistic. This makes for a popular book that can be taught in a classroom. Speaking of classrooms, which, at least, here, in the United States, people get introduced to Gatsby. There are often fanbases, some of them toxic, surrounding Gatsby. I have been shown too many self-insert fan-fictions of Gatsby, not to mention a "Like Gatsby or else," mentality taken on by some of the readership, which is mainly made up of an audience between the ages of 15 and 30 (I typically do not see to many older individuals act in such a way), which also is something I find repulsive. I know that if something becomes popular, people will ruin it, but seriously, a classic novel of all things. (I know the fanbase is not a valid reason for dislike, but it had to have been brought up).
By now, sport, I am sure you have gotten that I do not like The Great Gatsby, sport. That said, it does have some redeeming characteristics, so I would still recommend this to people who are interested in reading it. My review is just one against many thousands of other people, so please, by no means take this negative write-up as gospel. In fact, Gatsby has made me want to read another one of Fitzgerald's works just to see how it compares with Gatsby. Who knows, I may even like them. That is it for now, but I plan on re-reading Gatsby in a few years time, so stay tuned.
Update: a This Side of Paradise review is coming in the near future. Stay tuned!
Shout-out to Project Gutenberg for uploading an E-book of this work on-line it really made this work accessible to me and helped me find things like quotes! P.S: I was not paid in any way shape or form for this shout-out, if you have not checked out Gutenberg, you should.