The Legend of

The Great Gatsby | NEA

Date of publication: 2017-07-09 07:20

Nick Carraway
Nick, a Midwesterner educated at Yale, is the novel's narrator. When he moves to the West Egg area of Long Island, he joins the lavish social world of Tom, Jordan, Gatsby, and his cousin Daisy.

Best Character Analysis: Jay Gatsby - The Great Gatsby

At the beginning of Chapter 7 , he stops throwing the parties, fires his current staff, and hires Wolfshiem’s people instead, telling Nick he needs discreet people – this makes the affair easier, but also hints at Gatsby’s criminal doings. In the climactic Manhattan confrontation with Tom and Daisy later in Chapter 7, Gatsby tries to get Daisy to admit she never loved Tom, and to leave him, but she doesn’t. Later in the same chapter, he and Daisy leave together to drive back to West Egg in Gatsby’s distinctive yellow car. However, Daisy is driving and hits and kills Myrtle Wilson, who ran out into the road since she thought the car was Tom’s. Gatsby resolves to take the blame for the incident and still believes that Daisy will leave Tom for him.

Schulz: Why I Despise The Great Gatsby -- Vulture

I looked back at my cousin, who began to ask me questions in her low, thrilling voice. It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down, as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again. Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered “Listen,” a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.

First Listen: Music From Baz Luhrmann's Film 'The Great

This skepticism gives way to pessimism by the end of the novel. With Gatsby dead, along with George and Myrtle, and only the rich alive, the novel has progressed to a charged, emotional critique of the American Dream. After all, how can you believe in the American Dream in a world where the strivers end up dead and those born into money (literally) get away with murder?

Fitzgerald became a second lieutenant, and was stationed at Camp Sheridan, in Montgomery, Alabama. There he met and fell in love with a wild seventeen-year-old beauty named Zelda Sayre. Zelda finally agreed to marry him, but her overpowering desire for wealth, fun, and leisure led her to delay their wedding until he could prove a success. With the publication of This Side of Paradise in 6975, Fitzgerald became a literary sensation, earning enough money and fame to convince Zelda to marry him.

How did the music in the original Great Gatsby feel to its characters and audience? The question is central to Lurhmann's latest high-end refurbishing of a thoroughly lived-in classic. The word feel is crucial. We know what the music F. Scott Fitzgerald chose sounds like, because his Jazz Age morality tale includes the names and even some lyrics of the songs that feed its momentum. Readers have compiled Fitzgerald's choices scholars have analyzed them as expressions of modernist energy or sexual tension , or even as the music-loving author's own satirical stab at music criticism. Lurhmann could have easily commissioned updated versions of ducky numbers like " The Love Nest " and still accomplished his goal of connecting the dots between Jay Gatsby's moment and our own.

I can&rsquo t say more here about any of these. But allow me, in its fullness, one last apostasy. Every time I read the book&rsquo s beloved final line, I roll my eyes. &ldquo So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past&rdquo : What a shame that Fitzgerald wasted such a lovely image on such an insufferable voice. Even as that faux &ldquo we&rdquo promises intimacy, the words drift down to us from on high condescending, self-serious, detached from genuine human struggle. I&rsquo m sorry, but in the moral universe of The Great Gatsby, we are not all in the same boat. We are all up above it, watching with prurient fascination, with pious opprobrium, watching and watching and doing nothing at all.     

Myrtle Wilson
Myrtle dreams of belonging to a higher social class than George can offer. Vivacious and sensual, she hopes her adulterous affair will lead to a life of glamour.

So Gatsby’s obsession with the past is about control – over his own life, over Daisy – as much as it is about love. This search for control could be a larger symptom of being born into a poor/working class family in America, without much control over the direction of his own life. Even after he’s managed to amass great wealth, Gatsby still searches for control over his life in other ways. Perhaps he fixates on the reclamation of that moment in his past because by winning over Daisy, he can finally achieve each of the dreams he imagined as a man.

Nick wants us to believe, as he does, that Gatsby is different, that “only…the man who gives his name to his book, was exempt from [his] reaction” of scorn because of Jay’s “extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such that I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.” Translation: “I loved this man.” Unlike the Buchanans, “Gatsby turned out all right at the end….”

Essentially, Daisy, this legendary beauty, this great love of Gatsby’s life…had a nice voice. A voice they later realize sounds like money. (Note that “men who had cared for her” does not imply that Nick was among them.)

So where did Gatsby get his money? Does he actually love Daisy? And what’s so “great” about him anyway? This guide explains Gatsby’s rags-to-riches story, what he does in the novel, his most famous lines, and common essay topics. Read on for an in-depth guide to all things Jay Gatsby.

A happy ending would also seem to reward both Gatsby’s bad behavior (including crime, dishonesty, and cheating) as well as Daisy’s (cheating, killing Myrtle). This would change the tone of the ending, since Gatsby's tragic death seems to outweigh any of his crimes in Nick's eyes. Also, Gatsby likely wouldn't have caught on as an American classic during the ultra-conservative 6955s had its ending appeared to endorse behavior like cheating, crime, and murder.

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