The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald
If you've never heard of The Great Gatsby then you haven't seen the movie versions...1974 starring Robert Redford and the other, 1926 silent version starring Warren Baxter, and the soon to be released 2012 version starring Leonardo DiCaprio. (I did not know this movie was in the making when I decided to write about Gatsby and now it is soon to be released.) It is a American classic!
Gatsby is a romantic drama set in the "Roaring Twenties". The nation's wealth nearly doubled during the Twenties. Women started to rebel by cutting their hair short and drinking, and partying. Young people loved to dance and would spend nights and weekends wherever they could dance...the Charleston, the Black Bottom, and others. Prohibition, rather than stopping drinking led to the rich having more than the poor. The music, the freedom and the booze, all led to the Roaring Twenties.
Documentary explores the turbulent life and dark creative spirit of its writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald was an alcoholic who lived with his wife, Zelda, in Great Neck, Long Island. Though he was an alcoholic it is said he wrote sober and was painstaking about revisions. Although it is also said they struggled financially, the Fitzgerald's led a charmed life spending months at a time in Europe. He and his wife Zelda lived a lavish lifestyle in spite of any financial difficulties which may have contributed to their tempestuous relationship. When he died, the New York Times said of him, "Mr. Fitzgerald in his life and writings epitomized 'all the sad young men' of the post-war generation. With the skill of a reporter and ability of an artist he captured the essence of a period when flappers and gin and 'the beautiful and the damned' were the symbols of the carefree madness of an age."
All of these things, along with living in the twenties, led this author to write The Great Gatsby. So without even telling you the story, just by reading what I have already told you about the Roaring Twenties and F. Scott Fitzgerald you must have some idea of how this novel goes.
Great Gatsby Movie starring Robert Redgford
The Great Gatsby Summary
This novel is written in narrative style being told by Nick Carraway. Nick is a Midwesterner who moves to New York to work in the bond business. He is a graduate of Yale and has many connections in East Egg, Long Island, unlike the nouveau riche that live around his new home. He rents a house next door to Gatsby and looks at the life of his new Long Island neighbor, Jay Gatsby and Gatsby's extravagant lifestyle. Gatsby lives in a mansion and throws lots of parties. Nick prides himself on not being judgmental and normally doesn't approve of lavish lifestyles but thinks of Gatsby as "gorgeous" an opinion that is tested throughout the novel.
Nick's cousin Daisy (Buchanan) introduces him to Jordan Baker, with whom Nick of course becomes romantically involved. Jordan tells Nick about his brother-in-law Tom's affair with a gal named Myrtle. (Tom is married to Daisy.) At a New York City party Myrtle teases Tom about Daisy, yes I said Daisy, and Tom punches her in the face breaking her nose.
Eventually Nick gets invited to one of Gatsby's parties and actually meets Gatsby. The twist that occurs is that Gatsby is deeply in love with Daisy (he had met her previously). Of course they rekindle their friendship and an affair (that's Gatsby and Daisy, who is married to Tom). Ironically when Tom suspects Daisy and Gatsby are having an affair he becomes enraged. At yet another party in New York, Tom tells Daisy that Gatsby's money is from illegal activities. Daisy realizes she belongs with Tom. In a true twist of fate, Daisy accidentally runs down and kills Myrtle, Tom's lover. The truth is that Daisy was actually driving the car, not Gatsby but Gatsby is willing to take the blame to protect Daisy. Myrte's husband (you didn't know she had a husband...)finds out Gatsby killed his wife and goes to Gatsby's to kill him. He finds Gatsby in the pool and shoots him then shoots himself.
That's the story in a nutshell but doesn't include the real drama and grit behind the story. East Egg is where very wealthy, aristocratic people live. The other town mentioned in the novel is West Egg, where the garish rich live. New York City as mentioned above is where Tom keeps an apartment to meet his lover Myrtle and Nick goes for lunch with Gatsby.
The party at Gatsby's is important to the novel because it shows the characters at their normal worst. It shows Tom's hypocrisy and disregard for the feelings of either woman he is involved with. He is a bully wanting control. It also builds anticipation about Gatsby and his air of mystery. The party itself is totally extravagant, liquor everywhere, crates of fresh fruit, tents filled with food and a live orchestra. As the party continues everyone gets louder and drunker. This is the Roaring Twenties in action! Gatsby has an affected accent and doesn't even know half of his guests.
One day Nick has lunch with Gatsby. Gatsby drives him into NYC in his sports car. Nick finds most of what Gatsby tells him about Gatsby's past to be unbelievable. One of the people they meet at lunch (a friend of Gatsby's) leads Nick to believe Gatsby is involved with a lot of shady characters. However, Jordan paints Gatsby as a poor lovesick guy who wants Daisy back.
Quotes from The Great Gatsby
I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby's house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited--they went there.
The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself.
In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.
He wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was
I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all—Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.
The only time Gatsby seems real is when he is first reunited with Daisy. Daisy is everything Gatsby wants to be. Her wealth is natural not pretentious. Even though Gatsby is rich, he will never really be one of the aristocratic rich to whom wealth and social grace come naturally. Daisy has that though she is not the girl he remembers. He's in love with a dream of the past but can't let go...he truly loves Daisy in spite of his wealth and power.
The confrontation between Tom and Gatsby is an important one showing and telling a lot about both men and their lives. Their battle over Daisy is the epitome of selfishness for both men. She is a means to their ends. There is depth to this book and the romances and way these new rich live their lives and their pathetic attempts and living with that wealth. Therein lies the theme of the Great Gatsby, trying to become rich and pursue the American dream. There are other themes intertwined as well, love, romance, greed, violence...lots going on here.
There's more to the story so I hope I have left you with a desire to read the book or see the movie with Robert Redford OR wait until December and see the new movie with Leonardo DiCaprio.
One last thing the photos I used were taken of four of my grandchildren and their classmates when they did a project on The Great Gatsby...that was my inspiration for this hub.
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