Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald is one of the greatest American literary artists. He has made a contribution into the world literature because of marvelous novels about America’s life of the 1920s. The Great Gatsby is the most interesting and well-known his novel. The literary critics consider it as a great piece of American fiction. It is a surprisingly lively story of the “way up” of a strong man.
The protagonist, Jay Gatsby is a nouveau riche; there exist a lot of legends about his wealth. “His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all. The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God—a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that, and he must be about His Father’s Business, the service of a vast, vulgar and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end” (Fitzgerald, 105). He has got his wealth only for one purpose – for the love of beautiful Daisy Fay. Jay Gatsby failed to meet his happiness because he candidly believed that only those who reach the heights of wealth and power will get happiness automatically. Jay Gatsby had a lot of illusions; it is one of the main problems of the novel. “Can’t repeat the past? Why? Of course you can!” (Fitzgerald, 118)
Once, this young man could not marry Daisy because of the difference in social status. Daisy was the daughter of wealthy parents, accustomed to luxury and entertainments, while Gatsby was just a simple soldier. While Gatsby was at war and earned money by illegal sale of alcohol during the “dry law”, Daisy managed to marry Tom Buchanan – the person of her social class, who came from a wealthy family.
The present begins with the moment when one more important character – Nick Carraway appears. The reader sees what is happening by his eyes because Nick is the narrator. As one of the main characters, Nick is directly related to the other characters of the novel (according to the story, he is familiar with all three main characters – Tom, Daisy and Gatsby). Nick was studying in university with Tom; Daisy is his cousin (who, however, he sees quite rarely), and on top of that, Nick is the nearest Gatsby’s neighbor. In the climax of the novel it turns out that Nick is the only friend of Jay Gatsby. Nick Carraway was assigned, to play a special role in the novel – the narrator role. He belongs to the old, venerable and well-off family. He is about 30 years, and he is sure that is well versed in the basic moral values. Returning from the war, Nick decides to take up the study of credit and banking.
So, Nick is not only a link between the past and the present of the novel, but he also concentrates the characters, space and time into a single focus. Nick gradually learns about the love story of Gatsby and Daisy; he is a witness of their relationship in the present and becomes a witness to frustration and tragedy of the protagonist.
At the same time, the movement does not stop with the Nick’s appearance, because he is not a passive observer, but an active participant in all events. Nick is also the only character in the novel, whose nature is not static. His views gradually begin to change; his principles and beliefs at the beginning of the novel do not coincide with the real spiritual needs.
Fitzgerald professionally depicted Tom Buchanan because the writer knew that society, his life and interests.
Fitzgerald shows malice and cynicism of a typical representative of the ruling class. Tom Buchanan considers the love affairs as the small pranks; he does not hide them either from the public or from his wife. He calmly appears in cafes and upscale restaurants with his mistress Myrtle Wilson, without avoiding friends and acquaintances who know his family. Nothing is sacred for him. Wealth that Buchanan got inherited, defines his social views, all the spiritual sort of his character. It gives him the firm belief in the importance of his existence and dull belief in his rightwards, whatever the issues, be it racist remarks at the preeminent Nordic race, which he certainly regarded himself or involvement in the killing of any innocent person.
Meyer Wolfsheim is an interesting portrait of another predator. Wealth helped him to cover his nefarious activities. Introducing the image of Wolfsheim Meyer, the writer continues one of the themes of American literature: depicting business people in America. Fitzgerald emphasizes the fact that there is a gradation of the rich people.
The picturing of women’s images in the novel is also interesting. These women are quite shallow. They have good education, position in society, and appearance; however their souls are empty. Daisy Buchanan and her friend Jordan Baker are the main female characters of the novel. The author briefly introduces the readers to these women’s lives.
Jordan Baker was mindlessly flitting along the roads of life. She was accustomed to commit indiscretions and was going to get rich. Jordan instinctively avoided clever, shrewd people and felt more confident with those who could not even have thought that she is able to do anything inconsistent with the generally accepted norms of behavior. Jordan Baker, like Buchanans, always got away, although she was incurably dishonest.
Another female character is Daisy Buchanan; she continues the gallery of female characters drawn by Fitzgerald. She was a young girl who was brought up in luxury, without knowing any worries, surrounded by wealthy admirers. She might not have paid attention to the handsome officer Gatsby if she knew about his poverty. She could not wait a long time for her beloved man, and, when Tom Buchanan proposed to her, she agreed. His wealth and influence in society flattered her vanity.
Meeting Gatsby once more, after learning of his enormous wealth, Daisy again felt sympathy for this man. It seemed that she was ready to respond to his all-consuming love and leave her husband, but prudence and practicality influenced her actions. The confidence with which Tom was talking about precarious position and wealth of Gatsby, who did not belong from birth to high society, influenced Daisy. She betrayed Gatsby and in a difficult moment ran away, leaving no address. Fitzgerald emphasizes that Daisy is a decent pair of her husband. He reveals the essence of her character masterly repeatedly describing the nuances of her voice that was “full of money.”(Fitzgerald, 128)
The core things in her life are money and wealth; they save Daisy from the responsibility for killing Myrtle Wilson. She was not interested in the fate of Gatsby, with whom she almost left her husband. She is a typical representative of her class, personal well-being is above all else for her.
Gatsby is a really outstanding man; he lost himself in the pursuit of an insignificant goal – wealth. He embodies the brightest type of American “Dreamer”, although the “dream” leads him to a catastrophe.
In conclusion, it should be said that The Great Gatsby is a social novel. Truthfully depicting characters and events, as well as the basic conflict that defines the action of the book, author realistically portrays the fate of people in American bourgeois society. Despite the fact that the novel is limited to a description of the events occurring within six months, and for narrow personal relationships of a small group of people, Fitzgerald was able to accurately capture the atmosphere of bourgeois society and its effect on people.