As F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.” Throughout The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald has much to say. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the classic American Fiction in 1925 based on the Jazz Age, which was a time of music, dancing, and partying. Fitzgerald presents various messages in the book. He centers his book on the ideas of the American Dream, honesty, wealth, materialism and much more. The novel is written in first-person with the fictional character Nick Carraway as the narrator. From start to finish of The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald vividly expresses that although money has value, it can not always bring people happiness, he emphasizes that as much as someone may try, they simply can not repeat the past, and he stresses the consequences of deceit and lying.
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The first message that Fitzgerald expresses in The Great Gatsby is that although money has value, it can not always bring people happiness. With the love of money leading to destruction being one of the major themes of the book, Fitzgerald clearly expresses the difference between the East and West Egg. The East Egg represents old wealth and money, while the West Egg represents a place people go to in hopes of making it big. Daisy is among the characters who is attracted to money. She is married to Tom, but we learn later in the book that she used to be in love with Gatsby. She loves Tom for his money but is not necessarily happy in a relationship with him. In the text it states, “Her voice is full of money,” he said suddenly. That was it, I’d never understood before. It was full of money- that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it… High in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl….” . Fitzgerald makes sure that we are aware of Daisy’s desires by showing Nick’s realization of the true charm in her voice. Gatsby is another character who has a lot of money but does not appear to be happy. He uses his money to throw lavish parties with no real meaning. Nick comes to find out that he is one of the few invited to the party. Most of the people at the party didn’t know Gatsby and “conducted themselves according to the rules of behavior associated with amusement parks”. The only thing that seems to grasps his attention is Daisy and his love for her. In addition to Daisy and Gatsby, Myrtle also values money and high status. She is married to George Wilson and they live in the valley of ashes, symbolizing poverty. Myrtle shows interest in Tom who is wealthy and well educated. In one scene, she is seen changing her appearance to make herself seem like she is of high class. She is unhappy with the affair she has with Tom but values his wealth. Later in the book, Myrtle is ran over while running to a car that she thought was Tom’s. Perhaps Fitzgerald uses this to symbolize that money can’t bring you happiness by showing her unhappy death. Gatsby and Myrtle are similar because they both die after seeking wealth for their entire lives. Fitzgerald connects all of these characters together to prove the same message that wealth and status go away when you die.
Similarly, Fitzgerald emphasizes that as much as you may try, you can not repeat the past. We can see that Gatsby desires a relationship with Daisy and tries to repeat the past the same way that he fell in love with her in their younger years. The author wrote, “Oh, you want too much!” she cried to Gatsby. “I love you now- isn’t that enough? I can’t help what’s past.” She began to sob helplessly. “I did love him once- but I loved you too,” . The author helps us understand that although Daisy has a love for Gatsby, she also has a love for Tom and feels that she will never be able to love Gatsby the way that she once did. Throughout the entire book, Gatsby is trying to remake his relationship with Daisy to win her back over. In chapter 6 Nick says, “I wouldn’t ask too much of her,” I ventured. “You can’t repeat the past.” “Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!” He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand. “I’m going to fix everything just the way it was before,” he said, nodding determinedly, “She’ll see”. The author’s choice of words illustrates Gatsby’s denial of the point Fitzgerald is trying to make. Gatsby does not realize that Daisy has evolved into a new person. This shows an interesting comparison between what the author is trying to say and what Gatsby believes. Fitzgerald makes sure that his message sticks with the reader by ending the book with the quote, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”. This relates to Gatsby's relationship with Daisy and his attempt to beat beyond the waves to a place he can’t go back to. Daisy symbolizes everything that he hopes for and Gatsby believes that if he can recover his relationship with Daisy, then he can recover a part of himself. This however is untrue and is a goal that he simply can not accomplish. Overall, Fitzgerald’s message of past and future is displayed mostly through the characters Gatsby and Daisy.
Furthermore, Fitzgerald stresses the consequences of deceit and lying. The author depicts many of the characters struggling with honesty. Daisy struggles with being honest about her affair with Gatsby. Tom struggles with his affair with Myrtle. Gatsby isn’t completely honest about how he got his money and Nick is a biased narrator. Early in the book, Tom warns Nick saying, “Don’t believe everything you hear”. Tom is the only one who can see straight through Gatsby. He is aware of all the rumors about Gatsby’s background but decides to do some research for himself and reveals later in the book that Gatsby was a bootlegger. Fitzgerald wrote, “I found out what your ‘drug-stores’ were,” He turned to us and spoke rapidly, “He and this Wolfsheim brought up a lot of side-street drug-stores here and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter. That’s one of his little stunts. I picked him for a bootlegger the first time I saw him, and I wasn’t far wrong”. Along with Gatsby and Daisy, Myrtle struggles with honesty. Myrtle has an affair with Tom through the course of the book and her lies catch up with her when her husband George finds out. George says, “God knows what you’ve been doing, everything you’ve been doing. You may fool me but you can’t fool God.” Fitzgerald uses the characters in the book to show a message. Gatsby and Myrtle both die as a result of their deceitfulness.
Ultimately, Fitzgerald had much to say in The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald based his book on many common themes; wealth, past and present, and honesty. Fiztgerald’s book is known around the world for the messages he tries to teach people. The Great Gatsby book review shows and suggests in his book that happiness comes from other things than money and that you can’t find your happiness from buying things. He also recognizes that people need to learn from their mistakes and move on from the past. Lastly, he wants people to know that there is a price you have to pay for your dishonesty. Many people in the world need to become aware of this message and apply it to their lives. It’s time for everyone to take a step back and improve their own lives from the lessons Fitzgerald stresses.
- Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2004. Print.
- This is the primary source text that can be used to analyze the messages presented in The Great Gatsby.
- Donaldson, Scott. Critical Essays on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1984. Print.
- This is a collection of critical essays that can be used to analyze and interpret various themes and messages presented in The Great Gatsby.
- Lathbury, Roger. “The Great Gatsby and the American Dream.” Twentieth Century Literature, vol. 42, no. 3, 1996, pp. 374-383. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/441695 Accessed 6 May 2023.
- This article explores the concept of the American Dream and how it is presented in The Great Gatsby.
- Kheirallah, Majd. “The Tragic Fall of Jay Gatsby: An Analysis of His Downfall and the Role of Society and the American Dream.” International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, vol. 6, no. 1, 2016, pp. 12-20. www.ijhssnet.com/journals/Vol_6_No_1_January_2016/2.pdf Accessed 6 May 2023.
- This article analyzes the character of Jay Gatsby and how his downfall is a result of societal pressures and the American Dream.
- Kusunose, Yuka. “F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Critique of Capitalism in The Great Gatsby.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication, vol. 28, no. 3, 2014, pp. 351-368. Sage Journals, doi: 10.1177/1050651914527847. Accessed 6 May 2023.
- This article examines Fitzgerald’s critique of capitalism and how it is presented in The Great Gatsby.
- Paul, Samuel. “The Death of Romance in The Great Gatsby.” Studies in the Novel, vol. 47, no. 2, 2015, pp. 204-223. Project MUSE, doi: 10.1353/sdn.2015.0023. Accessed 6 May 2023.
- This article discusses how the concept of romance is presented in The Great Gatsby and how it ultimately leads to the characters’ downfall.
- Eble, Kenneth. “The Great Gatsby and Modern Times.” Fitzgerald/Hemingway Annual, vol. 1973, 1973, pp. 1-14. Project MUSE, doi: 10.1353/fha.1973.0005. Accessed 6 May 2023.
- This article explores the themes of modernism and the Jazz Age in The Great Gatsby.
- Brown, Elizabeth M. “The Disruption of Time and Space in The Great Gatsby.” Studies in the Novel, vol. 21, no. 2, 1989, pp. 141-152. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/29532495 Accessed 6 May 2023.
- This article analyzes how Fitzgerald uses time and space in The Great Gatsby to convey the themes of the novel.