Ex Libris Online: The Great Gatsby

Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 

By Kirstie Boone

 

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         Illustration by Evelyn Henson

As we continue to review classics this month in the spirit of reading for your New Year’s Resolution, I would like to share my take on a personal favorite. I fell in love with the mysterious Jay Gatsby and the era of the 1920s in high school when my wonderful tenth grade English teacher, the late Luann Eidson, gave us the assignment to read The Great Gatsby. While many of my peers took full advantage of the fact that there was already a movie based on the book as well as SparkNotes that could easily be accessed online, I dove into the book head first. I became quickly infatuated with Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby’s relationship as the mystery of their lives unfolded. Now, Fitzgerald’s novel is receiving even more attention after the 2013 adaptation of the book into a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby and Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan.

Jay Gatsby is portrayed as a mysterious young man who lives in a tremendous mansion in the West Egg, deemed the “new money” side of town, during the 1920s. The 1920s, popularly known as “The Roaring Twenties,” was an era of prosperity and immense growth for the United States economy. Nick Carraway moves next door to Gatsby in 1922, and witnesses Gatsby’s extraordinary weekend parties. Nick has many connections to the East Egg, as his cousin, Daisy Buchanan lives there with her aristocratic husband, Tom. Tom is having an extramarital affair with Myrtle Wilson, and surprisingly, Daisy is aware of it. After discovering that Gatsby knew Daisy when they were younger, and that Gatsby is still in love with Daisy, Nick agrees to arrange a meeting between the two former lovers at his home. Daisy and Gatsby rekindle their love for each other, and all of Gatsby’s hard work trying to impress Daisy with his extravagant parties and lifestyle appears to have paid off.

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Gatsby’s mansion

Their passionate relationship comes to a close though, when Daisy’s husband discovers the affair and confronts Gatsby, revealing to Daisy that Gatsby’s wealth is a result of illegal activities, such as bootlegging. After her devastating discovery, Daisy drives Gatsby’s car back to the East Egg where tragedy upon tragedy then ensues.
The grief Nick feels after the end of Gatsby’s dream of living “happily ever after” with Daisy leads him to move back to the Midwest. Nick interprets the American dream of success and happiness as being similar to Gatsby’s dream of finally being with Daisy, but both are dreams corrupted by the longing for money and status.

Although the ending of the story comes at a rather sad note, it does nothing to decrease my infatuation with this classic novel or the characters involved in molding the story. Gatsby’s enduring love for Daisy, despite the claim that his love was for money and status, still captures me every time I pick up the novel or watch the movie. “The Roaring Twenties” was an era of fabulous parties and magnificent fashion trends, some of which seem to be attempting a comeback in today’s society (picture fringe dresses and sparkle headbands). The Great Gatsby would be an excellent classic to read or, if you’ve read it in the past, reread in the year of 2016.

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