The Great Gatsby: A Great Tragedy

The Great Gatsby: A Great Tragedy

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The Great Gatsby, what a finely written masterpiece! It is a romantic story on the surface, but there are fine details and hidden themes concerning America throughout the novel. Its characters symbolize various groups of people living in the 1920s. Daisy and Tom are among those considered the old aristocrats, Gatsby being the newly rich, Nick representing the middle-class, and the Wilsons are considered poor and lower class. Within this small group, relationships depict the societal norms of the 1920s, such as the clash between old and new money, where old money was prestigious and all-powerful. I have read many books in my life, but so far none has matched this one. This is truly a work of the heart, as Fitzgerald rewrote it several times. Relationships embodying love, hope, wealth, and dreams are all represented in this group of characters as they gather for a party in the backyard of Gatsby’s palatial home.

Fitzgerald vividly portrays this hedonistic society by introducing a seductive place called West Egg on Long Island, New York. He highlights Prohibition, the Jazz Age, and the growth in the American economy that gave some people the illusion that everything was prosperous. It was a time of self-gratification for the rich. There were huge decadent parties and lavish, but illegal, drinking. It appeared that the wealthy had not a care in the world spending all their money on pleasure. 

When the book was first released in April 1925, it was not as popular as it is today; only about 20,000 copies were sold. Fitzgerald died in 1940 believing that his book was a failure. However, it was not until after World War II that the book suddenly revived and became an important part of high school curricula. The story depicts a winding plot, and its history is a tortuous one. 

This novel may first appear to be a mundane love story between Gatsby and Daisy. However, if you look deep enough, you will discover that its larger themes center on what it means to pursue the American Dream and the tragic consequences of such a pursuit. And on that mysterious note, I leave you to find, as quickly as possible, your own copy of this masterpiece and to discover for yourself the allure and magic of these characters.

The Great Gatsby is considered to be F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “magnum opus,” and it is cherished by many scholars and professors. Including me!