Book: The Great Gatsby
Author: F Scott Fitzgerald
Publication: Fingerprint! Publishing; First edition (1 January 2014)
Price: Click the link
Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her;
If you can bounce high, bounce for her too,
Till she cry “Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover,
I must have you!”
The novel The Great Gatsby, 1925, opens up with Thomas Parke D’invilliers alias F. Scott Fitzgerald’s glib poem insinuating the slick tapestry around which he is going to deploy his characters.
It is the story of Jay Gatsby a self-made millionaire and his obsessive pursuit for his adolescent love Daisy Buchanan, a wealthy, flippant young woman, married to Tom Buchanan, who has an extramarital affair with Myrtle Wilson, wife of George Wilson, a poor mechanic.
“When I came back from the East last Autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart. Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction- Gatsby who represents everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the ‘creative temperament’- it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which is not likely I shall ever find again.” [Nick’s conception and impression on Jay Gatsby]
The story is told from the Ist person limited point of view of Nick, cousin of Daisy. Nick guides us to the lives of the characters and their interactions as much as he can see and perceive. Nick Carraway, a Yale University graduate moves to New York in association with his bond business. He rents a house in West Egg and comes in acquaintance with Mr Gatsby, who is his neighbour. He becomes the mediator between Daisy and Gatsby to rekindle their love affair. And in this course, he gets intertwined with their lives and catastrophes that finally strip off the charm of apparent flamboyancy of American high-class society.
Jay Gatsby and American Dream:
Set in the backdrop of the “Jazz Age” The Great Gatsby is a dystopian dilemma of the “American Dream” that is anchored on nothing but empty braggadocio. Gatsby, once an urchin, swelled as a business magnet by bootlegging and other illegal businesses after WWI. But all his ostentatious lavishness, extravagant parties, dazzling lifestyle centre on his meaningless pursuit of materialism. And this leads to the death and destruction of his ambition. His hard-earned status, and ambition money all collapsed under his blind love for a lady for whom nothing is serious except her fancy.
“No- Gatsby turned out of all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.”
After Gatsby’s murder when Nick met Daisy there was not a dab of grief in her poise, rather she proudly declared her new love affair to his disgust. All our attempts to arrest the unfathomable ambitions and desperation to reach the highest rung of life collapsed in our persistent clash with our limited life view, corruption. Fitzgerald’s deprecating sarcasm towards the American dream insinuates the ugly head of consumerism, the rapid expansion of industrial pollution that finally fall flat on the ash heap. Here at this point, Gatsby’s dream and “American Dream” meet at a convergent point in their futility.
“…his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.”
Gatsby’s tragic death stands for the death of the American Dream. Every individual American and America is standing on the same iceberg of catastrophe. This futility is reinforced by the name a valley of ashes an industrial wasteland, reference to the futile American conceit that eludes the individual heart inconsistent pursuing of mirage, “it eluded us then, but that’s no matter- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…and one fine morning-So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
Fitzgerald’s whip of scorn lashes distinctly on the social incongruity as paraphrased by distinct encounters of the protagonists. On one side, George Wilson fights with his insignificant life to attain a bit of dignity in the eyes of his wife and society. On the other hand, there are people like Gatsby, Tom, and Miss Baker with their ‘ballooned’ affectation and parade of pompousness. The way Nick portrays the two ladies at the very beginning chapter is not only humorous but also upholds the stuffed brainless insignificant lives the then women play in high society. The recurrent use of such fancy words like ‘blown back’, ‘ballooned’, ‘balancing girl’ exposed the hollowness of their existence. They cannot talk but their ‘lips fluttered’, cannot look straight but ‘watch out of the corner of eyes’.
The Great Gatsby is a Classic that adheres proudly to the stigma of perpetual appeal to the readers. The wasteland we inhabited never changes though a bit in tradition or style. The characters, their follies and foibles are always contemporary. The narrative style, poignant and stout, every now and then peppered with symbolism and allusion superbly keeps hold of the undercurrent derision of the narrator or the author. I feel sorry for Gatsby and also disdain for his foolishness in loving Daisy so sincerely. I pity Geroge and chew out my hatred for Daisy and Tom…silently.
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