The Great Gatsby

What always strikes me the most about this novel is the distinction between the East and the West. It’s made abundantly clear that there is a difference, seeing as the characters live on “east egg” and “west egg”; they’re in the same part of the world, but they live there under completely different circumstances. Gatsby is the nouveau-riche and Daisy and Tom are the old wealth.

I appreciate that Nick goes back to the Midwest at the conclusion of the novel. To him, the east coast was too lavish, fast-pace, and fake in a way that the Midwest is not. I think it’s just a difference of their overall demeanor; both Nick and Gatsby are very genuine individuals who say what they mean, while Daisy, Tom, and Jordan exist in this realm of superfluous and empty encounters. Daisy and Tom especially are careless and selfish individuals, and their wealth seems to make them immune to any consequences. Myrtle, who is careless and selfish but not wealthy ends up a victim of their circumstance.

Gatsby had a dream of being with Daisy and he thought knew what he needed to do in order to be with her. He became wealthy, quickly but also illegally, and thought that by living adjacent to her, he could sew his way back into her world. He used Nick to accomplish this, but he was never disingenuous to him and he never made is seem as if he was just using him to this end. Nick tells Gatsby “They’re a rotten crowd… You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.” At this point, you really see the distinction between Gatsby, a man who loved a woman so much that he would do anything for her, and a group of people who never presented anything so genuine to anyone. It really does represent the age, because the jazz and the liquor only really masked the underlying problems and the people.

I know that I’ve talked about the female characters in the novels we’ve read before, and where this novel is concerned, I love that Daisy is so fantastically deplorable. Fitzgerald initially paints her out to be sympathetic and charming, but by the end she is loathsome because of her cowardice. Gatsby is the hero, and Tom is the villain but there’s something about Daisy that is so much more infuriating than her husband.

2 thoughts on “The Great Gatsby”

  1. A lot of people can argue that someone who would do anything for love is romantic, but the way Gatsby does it is very sly. He finds out that Nick is his long love’s cousin and befriends him in order to get to Daisy. Although he doesn’t hurt Nick and is very nice with him, Gatsby still manipulates Nick to get him and Daisy back together. Nick does not see this until the end, I believe. I think that is one reason why he travels back to the West because he sees how the East coast and living this beautiful and glamorous life can change people for the worse.

  2. You raise an interesting point when you say that Tom is certainly a villain, but that the reader comes away despising Daisy so much more. I think part of that is that from the very start it is clear that Tom is shady at best and a manipulative, racist, misogynistic philanderer at worst, but that we sort of like Daisy for awhile before learning that she is no better. Her character arc draws us into her and makes us think of her as Gatsby thinks of her–sublimely perfect and charming, beautiful and delicate. But as the story presses on and we dig deeper into her personality, we see that she is a coward and just as bad as the rest of the lot. The disappointment we experience when we realize the woman we thought was a heroine is really a villain is palpable and excruciating.

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