“And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties, there isn't any privacy.”
What can we say about The Great Gatsby?
The Great Gatsby, in many ways, is a lesson. A lesson which teaches us the cruelty of life. A lesson which shows how farcical love can be, how it ruthlessly cuts down the kind and the naive.
Romantic stories often follow the beaten-to-death trope of espousing the noble power of love and its ability to bring happiness. Love is celebrated as a pursuit, something which is beyond reproach and a form of expression more powerful than any other force in the world.
The Great Gatsby begins with the same premise. Jay Gatsby, an eccentric rich man lives in a great mansion all alone, hoping to be united with the love of his life. He enlists his neighbor Nick
Carraway to help him find his beloved.
Like most previous romantic stories written, The Great Gatsby also has a protagonist searching for love, which he believes would lead to happiness. Fitzgerald however, chooses instead to tell a different story. A story of how love and happiness are not the same, and that sometimes, they are at two ends of a spectrum.
Love does come to Gatsby as he had always wanted, but it comes at a cost. Fitzgerald makes his readers question their understanding of love and their commitment to seeking companionship.
But Fitzgerald doesn't stop here. At the surface, The Great Gatsby is a man’s pursuit of love and happiness. Beneath the surface, we see the unraveling of the Roaring 20s in America, a prelude to the impending great depression.
Fitzgerald pulls no punches while describing the frivolity and excesses of the elites of America, the ones who lived large without paying heed to anything else in life. It is a lesson, not only in love and life but also a commentary on society in general.
After emerging from a bloody war, prosperity comes to the US in the 1920s. One thing people ignore about prosperous societies is their strange nature to succumb to decadence. A similar thing happens in America, and Fitzgerald tips his hat to the problem.
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