Gatsby is an elusive figure with an uncertain past, who likes to throw grand parties at his mansion. However, he also has an enthusiasm for the green light at the end of his dock. Nick finds that there is a hidden motive behind both the parties, and the friendliness. Gatsby’s aim to reach his dream is at the centre of the novel. Gatsby’s character is an example of the depths that people will go to for love, and the determination that this takes.
Gatsby’s life shows the hope of the American Dream, which is the idea that hard work will lead to success. However, his outgoing personality contrasts with the description of the valley of ashes. This part of the city suggests the reality of the decay behind the scenes, and hints at what is to come. A geographical parallel to the novel is suggested through this, as the lives of the wealthy are at the expense of those who are less wealthy.
The narrative leads the reader from the biggest party in literature to the loneliness of a new city, and the death of a dream. Fitzgerald suggests the reality below the surface of the American Dream through an ending of tragedy. The novel offers a rare glimpse into the class and social issues of the time. There is focus on the differences between old and new money, and the outcomes of both. Fitzgerald also examines the gender roles which the characters show.
The Jazz Age
The success of the novel created the term ‘the Jazz Age’, meaning it is historically and culturally important. Through the text, Fitzgerald shows the opposites that were key to this period of American history. Examples of these include the romance of the lifestyle and the ashes that enabled it, and the created self compared to the reality. The novel is a must read for those interested in American or literary history. It also offers cultural information about American attitudes of the time.
Fitzgerald’s writing is a new narrative style, and uses Nick as the narrator. As a result of this, the reader always questions the truth of the story. The writing style is elegant, and has a good use of imagery. In particular, the party scenes are a clear view of the culture and life of the 1920s. The themes of hope, greed, longing and loss are still important to society today. Due to the continuing popularity, the novel is important for future generations.