'He humanises Gatsby more in a few pages, than we see in the whole novel.'
The Great Gatsby is often dubbed one of the greatest love stories of all time – now I’m not sure what everybody else’s version of love is, but I’ve never read anything more depressing in my life.
The novel is set in the roaring 20’s in America, and narrated by Nick Carraway who is a low league bonds salesman, despite coming from an affluent family. He moves to West Egg, on the prosperous Long Island, directly opposite Jay Gatsby’s mansion. Gatsby is super rich, and throws magnificent and ludicrous parties every weekend.
Despite this most of his guests have never met him and not one person knows him better than another. There are multiple versions of his life story, and it remains a mystery throughout the whole novel about what his actual occupation is (although you could take a guess). Gatsby has been holding onto a secret, and it is in this summer of 1922 that he sees his opportunity to open up and reclaim the past.
Almost every character in this book is vapid and shallow, and I found their lives extremely dull and, quite frankly, pointless. Money talks in Gatsby’s world, and that in itself makes for plain reading in my opinion. There was no variety of character, no surprises; as soon as we met the love of Gatsby’s life, Daisy Buchanan, the ending became inevitable.
She is shallow and self-absorbed, just like her husband Tom and all the other sheep in the social circle. Gatsby’s father, Henry Gatz, is by far my favourite character despite the short role he plays. This is simply because he is the only one who shows true emotion. He humanises Gatsby more in a few pages, than we see in the whole novel.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some great points to this book. It is extremely well-written and Fitzgeralds’ use of intelligence in his writing is a rarity and so in that aspect it was a pleasure to read.
Additionally, the symbolism of the story is something we can all learn from. It teaches us that when you want something, you cannot simply have it, you have to struggle for it. Gatsby went through a war and financial difficulty to get to the position he is in the book. His devotion to Daisy, albeit frustrating at times for you as the reader, is simply beautiful; he shows love in a way which every girl would hope to receive.
However, as a whole, I must say I was disappointed. I cannot tell you how many times it has been recommended to me, so my expectations were extremely high. I seldom dislike classic novels so I can’t help but wonder, am I missing something?