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Most often, your first sense of a book is your reaction to its title. The best titles make novels sound mysterious, exciting, or interesting, attracting readers. Well-chosen titles also give readers a sense of what they can expect to find within the pages of the book.

At the same time, a title is usually an author’s way of declaring what is and isn’t important in the book. A title can reflect a work’s theme or focus, pointing out the right frame of mind for reading.

So how does the title of The Great Gatsby work? What is it showing us about the book that we are about to read - and how does our understanding of the title shift as we make our way through the story? Is Gatsby really great?

In this article, I’ll dissect the different meanings of this title and explain the other titles that Fitzgerald was considering when he was writing the book .

What Can We Learn From The Title of The Great Gatsby ?

In order to really explore the ways that this title reflects the novel, let’s first cut it into its parts, and then consider them back to front.

The Title Features the Name of a Character

Usually, when a novel is titled with the name of one of the characters, that either means that we’re about to read a biography or that the named person is the main character (for instance, Jane Austen’s Emma or J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter ).

So, here, the fact that “Gatsby” is in the title shows us that the focus of the story will be on him . In this case, this focus goes both ways. The novel is biographical, meaning, the novel is the story of Gatsby’s life. But also, Gatsby is, in fact, the protagonist of the story. It’s helpful for the title to show us this, since in this book the first-person narrator turns out not to be the main character.

Great? Great! Great.

Now let’s investigate four possible readings of the second part of the title, which all depend on the meaning of the word “great.”

1. Shallow and Straight-Faced

This version takes “great” as a straightforward compliment , meaning “wonderful.” In this version, Gatsby is great because he is the richest, coolest, handsomest dude, who drives the best car and throws the most banging parties. In this take, the title means total admiration: Gatsby is nothing but greatness. This reading of the title applies best in the beginning of the novel, when Gatsby is all mysterious rumors, swirling success, and unimaginable luxury, and when Nick is in his thrall.

2. Mocking and Ironic

On the other hand, we could be dealing with the “oh, that’s just great.” version of this word . As we - and the novel’s characters - learn more about Gatsby, the initial fascination with him turns into disappointment. In this reading, the “great” turns bitter. In reality, Gatsby’s money comes from crime. His parties, house, and material wealth don’t make him happy. He’s a moral bankrupt who is chasing after a married woman. And he hates his real self and has created a whole new fake persona to live out a teenage fantasy. This reading of the title works when Gatsby seems like a sad, shallow shell of “greatness” – he’s like a celebrity brand with no there there.

3. Deep and Soulful

Another possibility is that “great” here means “intense and grand.” After all, even though Gatsby is a hollow shell of a man who’s propped up by laundered money, Nick firmly believes that he stands head and shoulders above the old money set because everything Gatsby does, he does for the truest of true love. Nick, who starts out being on the fence about Gatsby, comes to think of his love for Daisy as something that elevates Gatsby. For Nick, this love marks Gatsby as the only one who matters of all the people he met during that summer ("They're a rotten crowd....You're worth the whole damn bunch put together" (8.45)).

4. Theatrical

The final possibility is that this “great” sounds like the stage name of a magician (like “The Great Cardini,” master card illusionist). This version of Gatsby is also completely fitting: after all, he literally transforms into a totally different man during the course of his life. And, it wouldn’t be the last time that the novel was interested in the way Gatsby is able to create a spectacle, or the way he seems to be acting on a stage rather than actually living. For example, Nick says Gatsby reminds him of a “turbaned ‘character’ leaking sawdust at every pore” (4.31), while one of Gatsby’s guests compares him to David Belasco, a famous theater producer (3.50).

The Title Is a Timeline

So which of these versions is the correct one? All of them. One of the interesting things about this novel is that the title’s meaning shifts depending on how far we’ve read, or how much time we’ve spent reflecting on what we’ve read, or what we ultimately choose to believe about Gatsby’s motivations  and driving ambition. Which version of the “great” Gatsby appeals to you?


Famous Alternate Titles

Did you know that Fitzgerald actually was not a huge fan of the title The Great Gatsby ? It was pushed on him by Max Perkins, his editor, who was facing a deadline (and probably by his wife Zelda as well). 

Fitzgerald had a list of titles he actually preferred to this one, and each of them reveals something about the novel, or at least about Fitzgerald’s sense of what the novel he wrote was all about.

Unlike the actual title the novel ended up with, the alternate titles vary in how zoomed in they are onto Gatsby. Let’s go through them to see what they reveal about Fitzgerald’s conception of his work.

Trimalchio , or Trimalchio in West Egg

This was Fitzgerald’s favorite title - it’s what he would have named his book if Max Perkins hadn’t interfered to say that no one would get the reference.

Perkins may have been right. Trimalchio is a character in The Satyricon , a book by the Ancient Roman writer Petronius. Only fragments of this work survive, but basically, it’s a satire that mocks Trimalchio for being a nouveau riche social climber who throws wildly elaborate and conspicuously expensive dinner parties (sound familiar?).

Trimalchio is arrogant and vulgar and very into displaying his wealth in tacky ways. In the fragment we have, Petronius describes one party at length. It ends with the guests acting out Trimalchio’s funeral as an ego-boost.

It’s important to note that in The Great Gatsby , Fitzgerald does refer to Gatsby directly as Trimalchio at one point: " obscurely as it had begun, his career as Trimalchio was over" (7.1). Since T he Satyricon is a satire, this alternate title suggests Fitzgerald originally wanted to present Gatsby as a figure to be mocked rather than to appear more grand/mysterious. This attitude towards the novel’s main seeker of the American Dream  paints Gatsby’s ambition to join elite society in an even darker and less flattering light than the novel does now.

Among The Ash Heaps and Millionaires , or On The Road To West Egg

These titles pan out, away from Gatsby and toward the geographic, social, and economic environment of the book . Both of these titles do this by giving us a sense of being between things, primarily the places with money and those without . Character-wise, these titles seem more Nick-focused, since he is the one who shows us the differences between these two worlds. 

Also, by referring to the physical space that separates Manhattan and the Long Island towns where the wealthy live, both of these titles directly reference the book’s climactic death, which takes place on the road back to West Egg, right at the place where the richly symbolic valley of ashes is.

Gold-Hatted Gatsby , or The High Bouncing Lover

These rejected titles are both references to the epigraph that opens the book :

Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her; If you can bounce high, bounce for her too, Till she cry “Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover, I must have you!”


Thomas Parke D'Invilliers is a secondary character in Fitzgerald’s semi-autobiographical first novel, This Side Of Paradise . In the novel, D’Invilliers is a poet who befriends the main character and whose poetry seems never to reflect the darker realities of life.

The poem gives advice to a lover who is willing to go to desperate lengths to get the woman he is interested in to return the feeling (again, sound familiar?). A title based on this poem would place the novel’s emphasis squarely on Gatsby’s longing for Daisy , reorienting our sense of Gatsby as a striver to his function as a love interest.

Under The Red, White, and Blue

Rather than referencing any part of the book - a character, a place, or even an idea - this title instead broadens the reader’s perspective to a patriotic or nationalistic view of the United States. The effect is that we could easily be looking at a war story, or some political tract - there is simply nothing in this title that gives us any sense of what the underlying novel might be about. 

If Fitzgerald had gone with this title, we would read this novel much more squarely as a more direct indictment of America, or at least the myth of the American Dream . This is certainly one of the enduring themes of the novel, but since Nick ends up contrasting the midwest and the east coast’s totally different ideas about success and the American Dream, this title would actually dilute Fitzgerald’s disapproval by making all of the U.S. complicit.


The Bottom Line: Is Gatsby Great?

  • The title is the reader’s first encounter with a book, which means it usually declares the focus or theme of that book.
  • The Great Gatsby is a title that can be read
  • Straightforwardly, as a declaration of Gatsby as a man who actually achieved the American Dream
  • Ironically, since Gatsby’s greatness is a hollow sham and he is an amoral striver
  • As a measure of the depth of his inner life
  • As a stage name of sorts for Gatsby’s great performance of “upper-class WASP”
  • Fitzgerald wasn’t particularly happy with the name and instead was considering
  • An allusion to Trimalchio, which would link Gatsby to another famously vulgar new-money guy
  • Titles that focused more on the geography of the novel’s climactic scene
  • A broad American flag reference that calls into question the American Dream

What’s Next?

Learn  why The Great Gatsby  begins the way it does  - with a poem written by Fitzgerald himself, but disguised as the work of someone else.

Analyze the character traits of Jay Gatsby  to see which meaning of the word “great” really applies.

Investigate the key themes pointed to by the various alternate titles : the American Dream  and unrequited love .

Read our summary of  The Great Gatsby , and find links to our many other  Great Gatsby  analysis articles.

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Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education.

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Interesting Literature

A Summary and Analysis of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

The Great Gatsby is the quintessential Jazz Age novel, capturing a mood and a moment in American history in the 1920s, after the end of the First World War. Rather surprisingly, The Great Gatsby sold no more than 25,000 copies in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s lifetime. It has now sold over 25 million copies.

If Fitzgerald had stuck with one of the numerous working titles he considered for the novel, it might have been published as Trimalchio in West Egg (a nod to a comic novel from ancient Rome about a wealthy man who throws lavish parties), Under the Red, White and Blue , or even The High-Bouncing Lover (yes, really).

How did this novel come to be so widely acclaimed and studied, and what does it all mean? Before we proceed to an analysis of Fitzgerald’s novel, here’s a quick summary of the plot.

The Great Gatsby : plot summary

Nick Carraway, the narrator of the novel, is a young man who has come to New York to work on the stock exchange. He lives on the island of West Egg, where his neighbour is the wealthy Jay Gatsby, who owns a mansion.

One evening, Nick is dining with his neighbours from East Egg, Tom and Daisy Buchanan. Tom is having an affair, and goes to answer the phone at one point; Daisy follows him out of the room, and their fellow guest, a woman named Jordan Baker, explains to Nick about Tom’s mistress.

A short while after this, Nick is with Tom when Tom sets up a meeting with his mistress, Myrtle, the wife of a garage mechanic named Wilson. Nick attends a party with Tom and Myrtle; Tom hits his mistress when she mentions Daisy’s name.

In the summer, Gatsby throws a number of lavish parties at his mansion. He meets Jordan Baker again and the two are drawn to each other. Nobody seems to know the real Gatsby, or to be able to offer much reliable information about his identity. Who is he?

Gatsby befriends Nick and drives him to New York. Gatsby explains that he wants Nick to do him a favour: Jordan Baker tells him that Daisy was Gatsby’s first love and he is still in love with her: it’s the whole reason Gatsby moved to West Egg, so he could be near Daisy, even though she’s married to Tom. Gatsby wants Nick to invite both him and Daisy round for tea.

When they have tea together, Gatsby feels hopeful that he can recover his past life with Daisy before she was married. However, he knows that Daisy is unlikely to leave Tom for him. When she expresses a dislike for his noisy parties, he scales down his serving staff at his house and tones down the partying.

When they are all at lunch together, Tom realises that Daisy still loves Gatsby. Tom goads Gatsby as he realises he’s losing his mistress and, now, his wife. While staying together in a suite at the Plaza Hotel, Daisy tells Tom that she loves both men.

On their way back home, Gatsby’s car accidentally hits and kills Myrtle Wilson, Tom’s mistress, who has rushed out into the road after her husband found out about her affair. Tom finds her body and is distraught. Nick learns that Daisy, not Gatsby, was driving the car when Myrtle was killed.

Gatsby also tells Nick that he had built himself up from nothing: he was a poor man named James Gatz who made himself rich through the help of a corrupt millionaire named Dan Cody.

The next day, Nick finds Gatsby dead in his own swimming pool: Wilson, after his wife was killed by Gatsby’s car, turned up at Gatsby’s mansion to exact his revenge. Wilson’s body is nearby in the grass. The novel ends with Nick winding up Gatsby’s affairs and estate, before learning that Tom told Wilson where he could find Gatsby so he could take revenge.

The Great Gatsby : analysis

The Great Gatsby is the best-known novel of the Jazz Age, that period in American history that had its heyday in the 1920s. Parties, bootleg cocktails (it’s worth remembering that alcohol was illegal in the US at this time, under Prohibition between 1920 and 1933), and jazz music (of course) all characterised a time when Americans were gradually recovering from the First World War and the Spanish flu pandemic (1918-20).

One reason The Great Gatsby continues to invite close analysis is the clever way Fitzgerald casts his novel as neither out-and-out criticism of Jazz Age ‘values’ nor as an unequivocal endorsement of them. Gatsby’s parties may be a mere front, a way of coping with Daisy’s previous rejection of him and of trying to win her back, but Fitzgerald – and his sympathetic narrator, Nick Carraway – do not ridicule Gatsby’s behaviour as wholly shallow or vacuous.

Fitzgerald’s choice to have a first-person narrator, rather than a more detached and impersonal ‘omniscient’ third-person narrator, is also significant. Nick Carraway is closer to Gatsby than an impersonal narrator would be, yet the fact that Nick narrates Gatsby’s story, rather than Gatsby telling his own story, nevertheless provides Nick with some detachment, as well as a degree of innocence and ignorance over Gatsby’s identity and past.

Nick Carraway is both part of Gatsby’s world and yet also, at the same time, an observer from the side-lines, someone who is not rich and extravagant as many in Gatsby’s circle are, yet someone who is ushered into that world by an enthusiastic Jay Gatsby, who sees in Carraway a man in whom he can confide.

Nevertheless, Fitzgerald deftly sets the world of West Egg, with Gatsby’s mock-chateau and swimming pool, against the rather grittier and grimier reality for most Americans at the time. If Gatsby himself symbolises the American dream – he has made himself a success, absurdly wealthy with a huge house and a whole retinue of servants, having started out in poverty – then there are plenty of reminders in The Great Gatsby that ‘the American dream’ remains just that, a dream, for the majority of Americans:

About half way between West Egg and New York the motor-road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter of a mile, so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land. This is a valley of ashes – a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.

This is the grey, bleak, industrial reality for millions of Americans: not for them is the world of parties, quasi-enchanted gardens full of cocktails and exotic foods, hydroplanes, and expensive motorcars.

Yet the two worlds are destined to meet on a personal level: the Valley of Ashes (believed to be modelled on Corona dump in Queens, New York, and inspired by T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land ) is where Wilson’s garage is located. The dual tragedy of Gatsby’s and Wilson’s deaths at the end of the novel symbolises the meeting of these two worlds.

The fact that Gatsby is innocent of the two crimes or sins which motivate Wilson – his wife’s adultery with Tom and Daisy’s killing of Myrtle with Gatsby’s car – hardly matters: it shows the subtle interconnectedness of these people’s lives, despite their socioeconomic differences.

What’s more, as Ian Ousby notes in his Introduction to Fifty American Novels (Reader’s Guides) , there is more than a touch of vulgarity about Gatsby’s lifestyle: his house is a poor imitation of a genuine French chateau, but he is no aristocrat; his car is ‘ridiculous’; and his very nickname, ‘the Great Gatsby’, makes him sound like a circus entertainer (perhaps a magician above all else, which is apt given the magical and enchanted way Carraway describes the atmosphere and detail at Gatsby’s parties).

And ultimately, Gatsby’s lavish lifestyle fails to deliver happiness to him, too: he doesn’t manage to win Daisy back to him, so at the same time Fitzgerald is not holding up Gatsby’s ‘success’ uncritically to us.

Is Gatsby black? Although he is known for having been played in film adaptations by Robert Redford and Leonardo DiCaprio, and the novel does not state that Gatsby is an African American, the scholar Carlyle V. Thompson has suggested that certain clues or codes in the novel strongly hint at Gatsby being a black American who has had to make his own way in the world, rising from a poor socio-economic background, and not fully accepted by other people in his social circle because of racial discrimination.

Whether we accept or reject this theory, it is an intriguing idea that, although Fitzgerald does not support this theory in the novel, that may have been deliberate: to conceal Gatsby’s blackness but, as it were, hide it in plain sight.

In the last analysis, The Great Gatsby sums up the Jazz Age, but through offering a tragedy, Fitzgerald shows that the American dream is founded on ashes – both the industrial dirt and toil of millions of Americans for whom the dream will never materialise, and the ashes of dead love affairs which Gatsby, for all of his quasi-magical properties, will never bring fully back to life.

10 thoughts on “A Summary and Analysis of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby”

I regret the several hours wasted in slogging through this low-prole distraction.

You might want to start with something like Dick and Jane.

One of my favorite novels. I have always loved this book. No matter how may times I read it, more is revealed.

The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite novels. Thank you for the detailed analysis! I can also add that Fitzgerald includes lots of symbols in the novel. To my mind, one of the most vivid symbols is a giant billboard with the face of Doctor TJ Eckleburg which is towering over the Valley of Ashes. These eyes are watching the dismal grey scene of poverty and decay. I guess the billboard symbolizes the eyes of God staring at the Americans and judging them. In case seomeone is interested in symbols in The Great Gatsby, there is a nice article about it. Here:

While I could imagine and accept a modern film version of Gatsby as black, I really can’t espouse the notion that Fitzgerald had that in mind. If you know anything about American society in the 1920s, you’d know that you didn’t have to be black or of some other minority to be outside the winner’s circle. US society may still have tons of problems accepting that all people are created equal, but back then, they weren’t even thinking about blacks et al very much. They were quite happy to ostracize Italians, Irish, Catholics, etc, without batting an eye.

This is such a widely misunderstood book, by scholars as well as regulars.

Daisy was the victim of love. She would’ve married Jay while he was in the army. Also, Jay’s so-called symbolic “reaching” is nothing more than him trying to understand self love, to attain it, to unravel the “mystery! ” of it. But he never realizes he’s totally in love with himself, which is his biggest issue other than preying on Daisy’s real love.

And Nick ” Carraway” …. Care-a-way, care-a-way… What self-appointed moral man witnesses nakedly two married plotters sceam against a neighbor they like, or any person in serious need of legal, emotion aid, AND DOES NOTHING. Yeah, care a way, Nick, just not your way! And Come On!! who the hell doesn’t judge others….that’s the ENTIRE POINT OF EVERY BOOK AND LIFE.

WHAT preyed on Gatsby preys upon every person everywhere. Influences of life and choices we make because if them. Gatsby’s such an interesting, centralized , beloved character because he represents everyone’s apparent embracement of the childhood notion, ” we can have it all and make our own consequences, and if not, let’s see if I can manipulate time successfully. Gatsby’s us the full human demonstration of self love at all costs and quite deliberately finding a way disguise and masquerade and mutate and thus deny this very fact while simultaneously trying to make it MAGICAL AND MYSTICAL.

ARTISTS, from geniuses to so-called laypeople, are all simple people with very basic emotions. That’s where ALL starts. They are not Gods, nor do they desire misunderstanding. Frankly, they just wanna see if you have any common sense. Once you get passed that, all literature resembles EVERY aspect of life.

A terrific novel and not bad adaptation as a movie by DiCaprio, I thought! While some of the comments on here are a little excessive, there is much to be said for the symbolism in the book. I rather like the fact that ‘West Egg’ and ‘East Egg’ surely hints at questioning who is the ‘good egg’ and who is ‘the bad egg’. The place names are so unusual that this must be deliberate (‘bad egg’ has been around since at least 1855) and we’re left to wonder just what is good and bad here. No character comes out smelling of roses in this story, which – for me – makes the novel utterly compelling.

Well said, Ken. It’s the subtlety of the characterisation which makes it for me – I know a lot of critics and readers praise the prose style, but I think it’s the way Fitzgerald uses Carraway’s narration to reveal the multifaceted (and complex) nature of Gatsby, Daisy, Tom, and even himself that is so masterly. I’ve just finished analysing the opening paragraphs of the novel and will post that up soon!

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The Great Gatsby

By f. scott fitzgerald.

'The Great Gatsby' by F. Scott Fitzgerald is an unforgettable novel of wealth and love. It chronicles the "Jazz Age," post World War I in the United States.

About the Book

Emma Baldwin

Article written by Emma Baldwin

B.A. in English, B.F.A. in Fine Art, and B.A. in Art Histories from East Carolina University.

The Great Gatsby  by F. Scott Fitzgerald was published in 1925 in New York City. It is considered to be Fitzgerald’s best and most famous novel . It depicts the lives of characters entangled in the New York City social scene , in dangerous love affairs, and endless wealth. Narrated by Nick Carraway, a man whose life mirrored Fitzgerald’s own, he takes the reader into the mysterious world of Jay Gatsby . Gatsby, a new multi-millionaire who seemingly lives the American dream, is consumed with the desire to reclaim a lost relationship.

Key Facts about  The Great Gatsby

  • Title:   The Great Gatsby
  • When/where written: Paris and the US in 1924
  • Published: 1925
  • Literary Period: Modernism
  • Genre:  Novel
  • Point-of-View:  First-person
  • Setting: New York City in 1922
  • Climax:  Gatsby and Tom fight over Daisy
  • Antagonist:  Tom Buchanan, Greed

F. Scott Fitzgerald and  The Great Gatsby

Fitzgerald’s  The Great Gatsby  is a modernist masterpiece . But, when it was published the author had no idea of its importance or how tied it would become to his own literary legacy. Fitzgerald, like the novel’s narrator, Nick, was born in Minnesota. He moved to New York to pursue fame and fortune, like Jay Gatsby. Perhaps also seeking inspiration in his personal experiences, Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda, refused to marry him unless he could support her. This mirrors Gatsby’s experience with Daisy in the novel, ending in her marrying Tom Buchanan, a cruel man but one with more than enough money for her to live the kind of life she wanted. The Fitzgeralds were wealthy, but as debt crept upon them, Fitzgerald’s health worsened, and he suffered from mental illness. He died from a heart attack in 1940, with his wife passing away a few years later. Today, scholars consider  The Great Gatsby,  as well as Fitzgerald’s other novels, as a means for the writer to confront his feelings about (what he coined as) “The Jazz Age.” The period after World War I is well documented in  The Great Gatsby .  Fitzgerald was initially interested in the outrageous lifestyles of the wealthy in New York City, engaging in such a lifestyle himself. But, just as Nick Carraway discovered, things weren’t quite as bright and shining as they seemed.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald Digital Art

Books Related to  The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby  is one of the best representatives of modernist fiction after the First World War. It was a period of emptiness and disillusionment that was for many such as the characters in this novel , filled with irrelevancies. He depicted lost people, depression, reality, and various types of corruption. As did other writers like James Joyce with his masterpiece Ulysses.  Hemingway’s works are also often compared to Fitzgerald’s. These include books like The Sun Also Rises.  Other books readers might find comparable to  The Great Gatsby  include  The Age of Innocence  by Edith Wharton,  To Kill a Mockingbird  by Harper Lee, and Fitzgerlad’s 1922 novel,  The Beautiful and the Damned.  The latter was published right before  The Great Gatsby  and tells the story of a socialite and heir to a massive fortune. Fitzgerald explores his marriage, military service, and the couple’s troubles.  This Side of Paradise  by F. Scott Fitzgerald is another novel in which readers can find themes comparable to those in  The Great Gatsby.  It was Fitzgerald’s first novel and follows several American youths after World War I.

The Lasting Impact of The Great Gatsby

When The Great Gatsby  was published in 1925, it sold around 21,000 copies, a number far lower than Fitzgerald’s previous novels. Today, the novel has sold over 25 million copies and has been translated into numerous languages. It’s a staple of classrooms all over the world. Today, the novel is said to embody the American spirit and convey the atmosphere of an incredibly important time in the history of the country . For some, this novel is the best representative of the American spirit and Fitzgerald’s “Jazz Age .” Despite the decades that have passed, the novel is still relevant today. It features complex characters with problems school-age readers and those simply reading for pleasure can relate to.

The Great Gatsby Review ⭐

‘The Great Gatsby’ tells a very human story of wealth, dreams, and failure. F. Scott Fitzgerald takes the reader into the heart of the Jazz Age, in New York City, and into the world of Jay Gatsby.

The Great Gatsby Historical Context 🍾

‘The Great Gatsby’ is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s best-known novel. It encapsulates the Jazz Age of the United States in the 1920s.

The Great Gatsby Themes and Analysis 🍾

Within ‘The Great Gatsby,’ F. Scott Fitzgerald taps into several important themes. These include the American dream, and its decline, as well as wealth, class, and love.

The Great Gatsby Quotes 💬

Throughout ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the reader can find a wide variety of beautiful and thoughtful quotes.

The Great Gatsby Summary 🍾

‘The Great Gatsby’ is generally considered to be F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. It represents a cultural period in the United States that’s now referred to as the Jazz Age.

The Great Gatsby Characters 🍾

‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald is filled with interesting and morally bankrupt characters, such as Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Baker, and Ewing Klipspringer.

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Home — Essay Samples — Literature — The Great Gatsby — Great Gatsby Conclusion


Great Gatsby Conclusion

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Published: Mar 19, 2024

Words: 664 | Page: 1 | 4 min read

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I. introduction.

  • A. As we delve into the world of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel, The Great Gatsby, we are transported back to the roaring twenties, a time of excess and extravagance. Set against the backdrop of the Jazz Age, the story follows the lives of the enigmatic Jay Gatsby and the elusive Daisy Buchanan, exploring themes of love, wealth, and the elusive American Dream.

B. At the heart of The Great Gatsby lies the theme of the conclusion, which serves as a poignant reminder of the consequences of the characters' actions and the illusory nature of the American Dream. Through the tragic fate of its characters, Fitzgerald masterfully portrays the emptiness that lies beneath the facade of wealth and status.

C. thesis statement: the conclusion of the great gatsby highlights the consequences of the characters' actions and the illusion of the american dream, ultimately revealing the emptiness that pervades their lives despite their pursuit of wealth and success., ii. the downfall of jay gatsby, a. gatsby's infatuation with daisy buchanan serves as the driving force behind his actions throughout the novel. his obsessive desire to win back daisy, the love of his life, leads him down a path of deception and manipulation, ultimately culminating in tragedy..

  • B. Gatsby's tragic end, marked by his untimely death, serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of his actions. Despite his wealth and lavish parties, Gatsby is ultimately unable to attain the happiness and fulfillment he seeks, highlighting the emptiness that lies at the core of his existence.

C. The impact of Gatsby's downfall reverberates throughout the novel, underscoring the theme of the illusory nature of the American Dream. Gatsby's pursuit of wealth and status ultimately leads to his demise, serving as a cautionary tale for those who believe that material success equates to happiness.

Iii. the emptiness of the american dream, a. the 1920s were a time of unprecedented economic prosperity, with many americans striving to achieve the trappings of success, such as wealth and status. the pursuit of the american dream, characterized by the desire for upward mobility and material wealth, was central to the ethos of the era., b. however, as the characters in the great gatsby soon discover, the pursuit of the american dream often leads to disillusionment and emptiness. despite their wealth and social status, characters like tom and daisy buchanan find themselves trapped in a cycle of unhappiness and unfulfillment, highlighting the hollowness that lies at the heart of their lives., c. the symbolism of gatsby's opulent mansion serves as a poignant metaphor for the emptiness of the american dream. despite its grandeur and extravagance, the mansion is ultimately devoid of meaning, serving as a lonely monument to gatsby's unattainable desires. through this powerful imagery, fitzgerald effectively conveys the futility of chasing after an illusion, urging readers to reexamine their own aspirations and values. the role of social class in the conclusion further emphasizes the themes of the great gatsby, as it highlights the stark divide between the old money characters like tom and daisy buchanan and the new money characters like jay gatsby. this division serves as a catalyst for the characters' actions and relationships, ultimately leading to their downfall., a. as we delve into the world of f. scott fitzgerald's classic novel, the great gatsby, we are transported back to the roaring twenties , a time of excess and extravagance. set against the backdrop of the jazz age, the story follows the lives of the enigmatic jay gatsby and the elusive daisy buchanan, exploring themes of love, wealth, and the elusive american dream., b. gatsby's tragic end , marked by his untimely death, serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of his actions. despite his wealth and lavish parties, gatsby is ultimately unable to attain the happiness and fulfillment he seeks, highlighting the emptiness that lies at the core of his existence..

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Great Gatsby Essay: The Pursuit of the American Dream

  • Great Gatsby Essay: The Pursuit…

A major theme in The Great Gatsby is the pursuit of what can be termed the American dream. Do you agree? By choosing a major character or a situation in Fitzgerald’s novel, discuss how or whether Fitzgerald is successful in exposing the underside of the American dream)

This represents the idea of the American Dream, where qualities of hard work and ambition are shown. The novel The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald embodies many themes; however, the most significant one relates to the corruption of the American dream.

The American Dream is defined as someone starting low on the economic or social level, and working hard towards prosperity and or wealth and fame. By having money, a car, a big house, nice clothes, and a happy family symbolizes the American dream. This dream also represents that people, no matter who he or she is, can become successful in life by his or her own work.

The desire to strive for what one wants can be accomplished if they work hard enough. The dream is represented by the idea of a self-sufficient man or woman, who works hard to achieve a goal to become successful. The Great Gatsby is a novel that shows what happened to the American Dream in the 1920’s, which is a time period when the dreams became corrupted for many reasons.

The American dream not only causes corruption but has caused destruction. Myrtle, Gatsby and Daisy have all been corrupted and destroyed by the dream.

The desire for a luxurious life is what lures Myrtle into having an affair with Tom. This decision harms her marriage with George, which leads to her death and loss of true happiness. Myrtle has the hope and desire for a perfect, wealthy and famous type of life.  She enjoys reading gossip magazines which represent her hope for the life of “the rich and famous”.

This shows how the one reason she wants to be with Tom, is because he represents the life of “the rich and famous”. When Myrtle first got married to George Wilson, she thought that she was crazy about him and thought that they were happy being together. Myrtle says, “The only crazy I was was when I married him. I knew right away I made a mistake.

He borrowed somebody’s best suit to get married in, and never told me about it, and the man came after it one day when he was out…” (Fitzgerald, 37) This shows how materialistic Myrtle is, and that she didn’t appreciate how George couldn’t afford his own suit to get married in. She looks at Tom in a different way. She looks at him as someone who can afford to buy their own suit for their own wedding. Myrtle is attracted to not only Tom’s appearance but his money as well.

She believes that Tom is the ideal picture-perfect man that represents the advertisement of the American Dream. Myrtle is considered to be lower class, as she doesn’t have a lot of money. Myrtle sleeps with Tom to inch her way to an upper-class status. People who are upper class are the ones that have money, drive fancy cars, and have nice big houses. Myrtle isn’t one of those people but desires to be one of them. This, later on, causes destruction and destroys Myrtle.

It was later found that Daisy was the one that hit Myrtle with her car which resulted in the death of Myrtle. It is ironic that Daisy was the one that killed her, since Myrtle was having an affair with her husband, Tom. This shows how the desire for a luxurious life and having the American dream, only caused destruction in this novel and destroyed someone’s life.

The hope for happiness is something that Daisy hoped to have, but finding out she married the wrong man changed who she is and her outlook on life. Early on in the novel, Daisy finds out a secret that Tom is hiding from her. Jordan says, “She might have the decency not to telephone him a dinner time.

Don’t you think?” (Fitzgerald, 20) Tom got a call from some women at dinner time, and Jordan claims that the woman is Tom’s, suggesting that he is sleeping with someone else. You learn throughout the novel that Tom and Daisy’s relationship is not to most ideal, happy relationship. Tom seems to be abusive towards her and rather does not seem to care much about her. Daisy thinks she has everything, wealth, love, and happiness which all tie into the American dream, but then she discovers that she has nothing and that she has been corrupted by this specific dream.

She thought she has all she desired but truly realized she had nothing. She has a child, who does not seem important to her at all. The child is never around, which shows a lot about Daisy. When her child was born, Daisy said “I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful fool.” (Fitzgerald, 22)

Daisy basically explained that there are limited possibilities for women, and she would have rather had a boy. The baby has to be a beautiful fool in order to be happy and successful. Woman back in the 1920’s all married for money, and not necessarily love. Daisy thought she had loved when she married Tom, but truly in the long run, only came out with money.

With Gatsby, Daisy realized something that broke her heart. When reunited with Gatsby, who she has not seen in about five years Daisy breaks down and starts to cry. “They’re such beautiful shirts, it makes me sad because I’ve never seen such – such beautiful shirts before.” (Fitzgerald, 89) At this time Daisy realizes that she did marry for money and not for love.

She figures out that she could have married for money with Gatsby but would have had love too. The chase for the American dream and the ideal man to be with destroyed Daisy’s happiness.

The ambition for something has thrown Gatsby over the edge. His love and chase for Daisy have taken over his whole life. He feels that he has to live up to the American dream to accomplish what he truly dreams for, which is Daisy. While Gatsby was away fighting in the war, Daisy met Tom and married him.

Daisy had always been rich and Gatsby thought that in order to get Daisy back, he needs to have money so that he would be able to give Daisy anything she wanted. There was a green light where Daisy lived that Gatsby would always look out for.

The green light is of great significance in this novel. It becomes evident that this green light is not Daisy, but a symbol representing Gatsby’s dream of having Daisy. The fact that Daisy falls short of Gatsby’s expectations is obvious. Knowing this, one can see that no matter how hard Gatsby tries to live his fantasy, he will never be able to achieve it.

Through close examination of the green light, one may learn that the force that empowers Gatsby to follow his lifelong aspiration is that of the American Dream. Fitzgerald uses the green light as a symbol of hope, money, and jealousy.  Gatsby looks up to the American dream and follows it so he can be the picture-perfect man that every girl desires.

Gatsby cares a lot about how people see him, and his appearance towards others. He wants everything to look perfect for Daisy, as he wants Daisy to view him as a perfect man. “We both looked down at the grass – there was a sharp line where my ragged lawn ended and the darker, well-kept expanse of his began. I suspected he meant my grass.” (Fitzgerald, 80)

This presents the theme of appearance vs. reality and how Gatsby wants everything to look nice and presentable when he meets up with Daisy for the first time in five years. Gatsby becomes corrupted because his main goal is to have Daisy. He needs to have an enormous mansion so he could feel confident enough to try and get Daisy. Gatsby was blinded by the American dream and as a result of this, cause the destruction of Gatsby himself. He didn’t end up getting what he wanted because the American dream took over who he truly was.

The American dream is a powerful dream that was significant in the novel The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald. It was evident that this dream only truly caused corruption and destruction. The desire for something sometimes causes people to be someone they are not and this usually does not result in a positive outcome.

The American Dream is defined as someone starting low on the economic or social level, and working hard towards prosperity and or wealth and fame. Most characters in the novel The Great Gatsby all wanted money, wealth, and happiness and would do anything in their power to get this.

The Great Gatsby is a novel that shows what happened to the American Dream in the 1920s, which is a time period when the dreams became corrupted. The American dream not only causes corruption but has caused destruction.

Myrtle, Gatsby, and Daisy have all been corrupted and destroyed by the dream and it was clear to be true. Money cannot buy you happiness which is something that the three characters in the novel The Great Gatsby truly did not realize.

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Author:  William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)

Tutor and Freelance Writer. Science Teacher and Lover of Essays. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0



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could you please give information for an MLA citation?

Hi. Please see the Author box.

thank you for leaving how to cite this

Your parenthetical references are incorrect and but the key points were helpful

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Hello Can I please get the authors name who wrote this and the date of when they wrote it,


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I just saw your comment…5 years after you wrote it

2 years after…yeah turnitin prob will catch that

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Table of contents


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It is not easy to create an essay about Gatsby, I confirm this, and I am going to share my experience with my readers. If you are required to make the great Gatsby essay, this guide will be helpful. I am a student, so I understand you well how you feel: you know about the assignment and cannot understand how to start. Yes, I was in your shoes and you should feel free to use my experience, and I hope that you will spend less time on your work than I did. I recommend reading the book by F. Scott Fitzgerald . Yes, you may say that you watched a movie but I assure you that it is different. It is great if you watched a famous movie about Gatsby with a great actor Leonardo DiCaprio but try to read the book! Believe me, it is a big difference between the book and movie as in the book, you can find much more details and descriptions that are skipped in the movie. Make sure you have received all detailed instructions from your teacher. I didn't think it is so important until I started to work on my essay and got some questions so I spent a lot of time trying to understand what to do. Eventually, I lost my hope, and I accidentally opened the requirements given by my teacher and found answers to all the questions I had. Funny, isn't it?  

How to Start the Great Gatsby Essay?

How to start an essay ? I guess this is the most popular question students have after they get this assignment and as I already mentioned before, your first step is to read the book. I suggest taking a pencil and paper and taking some notes during reading. It will help you to structurize everything better, plus you will be able to find some citations to use in your future essay much easier. At the beginning of your work, you have to make a good plan. Yes, like the most of the students, I hate planning, but they say it is the only way to fulfill the assignment within a deadline. So, count how many days you have, and make your own detailed plan of writing. Needless to say, every student may have their individual plan depending on their skills. It is my own plan:  

  • Reading a book (with notes) - 2 days
  • Choosing a good topic and brainstorming all my ideas - 1 day
  • Writing my work (approximately 1000 word essay ) - 3 days
  • Proofreading the finished paper - 1 day.

You can count easily - I spent around a week to create my own document. I spent more days because I lost a lot of time trying to find answers to questions that were just in my hands! It means you will need about 8-10 days to create a great work. I know some students practice writing their academic papers on the last night, and this is a very bad idea. All you can get is just a low grade.

Tips on Selecting the Great Gatsby Essay Topics

It is great when your teacher provides you with a list of interesting themes to write your great Gatsby essay. Sometimes, students have to choose their own topics. I appeared in the second situation, and I had to surf the Internet to find the great Gatsby essay topics. I found around 10 topics that turned my attention, and later selected one. Here is the list:

  • Was Gatsby in love with Daisy or he was deeply in love only with an idea of her?
  • In what ways Jay Gatsby is great. Does he deserve to be called great?
  • Symbolism in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel “The Great Gatsby”.
  • A movie based on the book The Great Gatsby.
  • American dream essay in the novel The Great Gatsby.
  • How the writer shows the contrast between poor and rich?
  • The idea of the American Dream in Fitzgerald's novel.
  • Who can be blamed for the death of Gatsby?
  • The concept of happiness and wealth in The Great Gatsby.
  • Does love mean something in The Great Gatsby?

Hints on Creating a Successful Paper Without a Headache

From my own experience, it is not so hard to structure your work properly; these are the main steps I took:

  • I divided my work into three main paragraphs: the introduction, main part, and conclusion;
  • I used essay transition words to tie together paragraphs of my paper;
  • I wrote a detailed outline of the future document. At the start, it seemed to me just a waste of time, but it was helpful!
  • When I have finished the paper, I proofread it thoroughly to find mistakes. If honestly, I am not strong in grammar, so I used Grammarly software to check and correct errors.

How to Find the Great Gatsby Essay Examples?

When you are going to write a paper, reading successful examples can help you to find your own ideas and thoughts on how to create your paper. I spent some time searching the great Gatsby essay examples on the Internet and I did find some good examples that turned my attention. It is a sample I want to share with my readers. F. Scott Fitzgerald in his novel, The Great Gatsby shows us the American dream from different perspectives. We meet Jay Gatsby - a man who follows his dream too hard and is unable to understand his life of riches is false. In the novel, the author shows to us how crazy the desire of power and wealth is, how Jay destroys himself. Jay Gatsby truly believes his money makes him great. The man believes he could get anything he wants with his money. Gatsby even tries to fix his failures from the past with it. Gatsby tries to “buy” the love of Daisy who is obsessed with wealth and power just like him. Gatsby attempts to get anything to satisfy his desires, but he can't find happiness in his money. Gatsby loses the sense of his life. This is true - if a human can't reach happiness, the whole life seems boring and empty. Jay Gatsby's fate eventually was destroyed by money and power he always wished for. This story shows us the Jazz Age period in the United States, and the author portrayed all events and characters with detail and elaboration. Nick Carraway who just moved to New York, becomes neighbors with mysterious and rich Jay Gatsby who grabs readers' attention from the beginning. With Daisy Buchanan character, Fitzgerald shows us people of that time were seeking the American dream. Daisy cheats her husband with rich Gatsby because she loves money and luxury things. This behavior evokes negative emotions in readers and gives a lot of food for thoughts if to try to compare modern Americans and their values with those described in the book. Fitzgerald defines the American dream as a strong desire for imperialism and individualism. Though this dream is distorted, it's like Jay's dream to be with Daisy who betrays her lovely husband just because of her desire for money, luxury, and splendor. With this novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald wanted to create something extraordinary but simple. The book grabs your attention from the beginning and keeps in tension until the end. We don't like Daisy, Gatsby or even Nick but we are deeply involved in the book because the author succeeds to grab readers' attention. He showed us people can be so much empty and lonely that they are unable to find their dream and they even push it away when they finally move to it. Such a short story, but it's full of dreams and desires. I truly hope my experience was helpful. Writing is hard work, and it is worth the result. Feel free to use my advice or delegate this essay to StudyCrumb  to get a high grade!  


Daniel Howard is an Essay Writing guru. He helps students create essays that will strike a chord with the readers.

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The Great Gatsby: Analysis and Feminist Critique

The great gatsby: abstract, introduction, the great gatsby: summary and analysis.

This Great Gatsby essay explores one of the greatest novels written in the 1920s. It was created in the days when the society was by far patriarchal, and the concept of the American dream was different. Essays on The Great Gatsby usually explore how much men had dominated society, which led to women discrimination and objectification; the novel will help us understand the concept of feminist critique.

The feminist critique is an aspect that seeks to explore the topic of men domination in the social, economic, and political sectors. It aims to expose how much women characters have been discriminated in the society through the study of literature. This sample essay on The Great Gatsby will apply the concept of feminist critique with reference to the F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work to expose some of the aspects of patriarchal society as revealed in the novel.

The Great Gatsby starts by bringing in a male character, Nick Carraway, as the narrator. First, the narrator is just from the First World War and seeks to settle and takes a job in New York. Searching for wealth and happiness, he rents a bungalow in West Egg next to a generous and mysterious bachelor Jay Gatsby, who owned a mansion.

Nick describes the mansion as “a colossal affair by any standard – it is an imitation of some Hotel de villa in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden” (Fitzgerald 1).

The introduction analysis brings out a theme of male occupying a more significant portion of wealth. These two men were relatively young and yet so rich to own such property at their age. The mentioned women, Daisy, Jordan, and Myrtle, are just an attachment to the men in the society since they all at some level depict an aspect of lack of independence since men dominate every aspect of life.

Socially, men seem to dominate in the relationships in The Great Gatsby. Tom’s financial power sets him way ahead of that he can afford to have an affair outside marriage. That’s what he does in an open way as he invites Nick, Daisy’s cousin, to meet his mistress Myrtle Wilson. Nick’s reflection on the relationship between Tom and Daisy, Tom, and Myrtle shows a break of social norms.

Tom’s relationship with the two women is abusive and of so much control. He abuses Myrtle publicly in the name of making her straight by even beating her. Tom comes out as a man who has so much power to bully everybody, including Myrtle’s husband Wilson, he also has so much control in Daisy, his wife.

Usually, one will expect that Nick being a cousin to Daisy, will resist seeing their close relatives get involved in extra-marital affairs. Nick being a man, supports other men, Tom and Gatsby, in their moves. After knowing that Gatsby had been in love with Daisy before she got married, he allows reconnection to happen in his own house although Gatsby’s credibility was still in question to him.

He admires Gatsby’s having “an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness he had never found in any other person and which it was not likely he could ever find again” (Fitzgerald 1). This admiration overpowered his questions on Gatsby’s character and that of his company. This shows that men’s dominance was critical since women were to follow what the men wanted them to, not their choices.

The novel was written in a time when men could batter women if dissatisfied by their actions, absolutely ignoring women’s rights. In the meeting with Myrtle, when an argument ensued between Tom and the mistress, Tom broke her nose to shut her up. The whole thing looks normal and even when George complains to him, he is not moved by his cry.

Tom is the dominant character in the novel. He harasses people starting with his wife, his mistress, George and even Gatsby. Tom is seen doing the same thing Gatsby does, dating a married woman, but he has the guts to confront him on his affair with Daisy. When Myrtle died, he fires a battle between Gatsby and George by convincing him that Gatsby had an affair with Myrtle.

George kills Gatsby before killing himself as a sign of revenge. The revenge was purely egotistic to reclaim his position as Myrtle’s husband since his status as a man on top of the relationship had been invalid. This leaves a mark in moral decadence, which only happens in a patriarchal society that cannot be controlled by any other voice than the male voice.

The novel has so much influence geographically and culturally due to the approach used and the structure itself. Tom Buchanan’s treatment of his wife and mistress and Gatsby’s manipulation of Daisy, Tom’s wife, brings out the aspect of male domination. The male has a dominant part in the exploitation of power in the relationships, and marital status is nothing of a worry when one wants to pursue their mistresses. Men in the text have idolized women, and they justify their reasons for the exploitation of women.

For example, Gatsby’s life is made true by the fact that he managed to have a relationship with a lady he had loved before. He does everything to get her, which include him “buying a house in West Egg just so that Daisy would be just across the bay” (Fitzgerald 1). This was a crucial sport in being strategic in his plans.

Tom, on the other hand, uses his physical and financial powers to prove that he is in control. He and Gatsby set social structures that attract women to them. However, Nick, the narrator, was not able to relate with the unpredictable and manipulative Jordan Baker. Jordan Baker’s character of believing that she could do as much as a man could do scared him away. She is unlike Daisy, who chose to stay with Tom, although she was in the relationship for financial gains.

Gatsby describes her as one with “voice is full of money” (Fitzgerald 1). For Jordan’s belief in herself, Nick later blames his failure to cope with her on her partying, smoking, and drinking character without really revealing that he had the same character as being pragmatic.

Women in the great gatsby had been accustomed to so much submission; an example is in Daisy’s character. She has a complacent kind of character that makes it difficult to make her own decisions.

She exhibits incapacity to have an independent sense of self-will that Gatsby takes advantage of to win her by flattering her with words like “You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock” (Fitzgerald 1). The fact that she had a relationship before with Gatsby was enough to lead her in deciding to have an affair with him.

Myrtle also belongs to the same types of women as Daisy as she engages in a relationship with another woman’s husband just because they met and liked each other. This aspect manages to bring out a clear definition of gender roles and identity in the earlier days when the novel was written. Men ask, and women respond without looking at what could be affected in their decisions.

The Great Gatsby sample essay shows how the novel brings out an aspect of both genders reclaiming their positions in society in terms of gender relations. Though the male has dominated, and the female has proven to be dependent on men, they both need to redefine themselves as the victims of social norms.

The male gender has dominated the economic and social part of the society making sure that the role of women is reduced to being subjects to the male exercise of power. This has been shown clearly by women getting trapped in the misogyny and manipulation set by men hence making it hard for them to stand by their choices. Their gender nature dictates the character choice in the male-dominated world.

The male exercise their power over the significant female characters by ensuring that they remain the sole financial sources, and the women exercise their dependence by remaining in their marriages despite their involvement in affairs outside marriage. Though there are men like George, who have lost their position, they still exhibit their ego by defending their marriages.

Fitzgerald, Scott. The Great Gatsby. University of Adelaide, 2005. Web.

  • Short Summary
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  • Summary (Chapter 2)
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IvyPanda. (2023, October 28). The Great Gatsby: Analysis and Feminist Critique.

"The Great Gatsby: Analysis and Feminist Critique." IvyPanda , 28 Oct. 2023,

IvyPanda . (2023) 'The Great Gatsby: Analysis and Feminist Critique'. 28 October.

IvyPanda . 2023. "The Great Gatsby: Analysis and Feminist Critique." October 28, 2023.

1. IvyPanda . "The Great Gatsby: Analysis and Feminist Critique." October 28, 2023.


IvyPanda . "The Great Gatsby: Analysis and Feminist Critique." October 28, 2023.

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'The Great Gatsby': A Long Island story comes to Broadway

In the 1920s, Groucho Marx rented this house on the...

In the 1920s, Groucho Marx rented this house on the Gold Coast. Today it belongs to Bill O'Reilly. Credit: Great Gatsby Boat Tour/Victor Mirontschuk

Anyone who has ever read “The Great Gatsby” — and face it, that’s pretty much all of us — will immediately recognize the green light that casts a luminous glow over the stage at the Broadway Theatre.

Before the first note is ever played, audiences are transported to the North Shore of Long Island, where F. Scott Fitzgerald set his iconic novel celebrating the Jazz Age and the search for the American dream. In the novel, the green light shining from the end of a dock on East Egg (Long Islanders call it Sands Point) is symbolic of Gatsby’s quest, both for love and for success. In the new musical adaptation, in previews for an April 25 opening, it gets its own song.

“Sometimes it’s winking, sometimes it’s warning,” sings Jay Gatsby, portrayed by Tony nominee Jeremy Jordan (“Newsies”). “That sound ‘cross the bay was you calling,” replies Daisy, played by fellow Tony nominee Eva Noblezada (“Hadestown”). The song, “My Green Light,” closes the first act by emphasizing their mutual longing. “What’s beautiful about the song is the tension,” says Kait Kerrigan, who did the adaptation. “Both of them are feeling the danger of what they’re doing, there’s a warning attached.”

Jeremy Jordan plays Jay Gatsby and Eva Noblezada is Daisy...

Jeremy Jordan plays Jay Gatsby and Eva Noblezada is Daisy in "The Great Gatsby,” which opens April 25 at the Broadway Theatre. Credit: Matthew Murphy

Kerrigan has been working on the show since the pandemic. She explains that Korean producer Chunsoo Shin was “so moved by this very American story” that he commissioned her to write a musical version to be translated into Korean. Is that even allowed? Yes, since January, 2021, when the novel entered the public domain (explaining why yet another musical version is in the works at American Repertory Theater in Boston with music by Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine).

After several workshops, Kerrigan, collaborating with Jason Howland (her husband) and Nathan Tysen on the music, concluded it would be beneficial to present the piece in English first, and mounted a production at Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey last fall. The success of that production — the run was sold out before the first performance — led to a Broadway transfer, though plans are still to take it to Korea at some point.

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Eva Noblezada and Jeremy Jordan of “The Great Gatsby” at...

Eva Noblezada and Jeremy Jordan of “The Great Gatsby” at the de Serversky Mansion in Glen Head. Credit: Matthew Murphy/Matthew Murphy

Kerrigan says she had some very specific goals in approaching the project, notably making the characters “flesh and blood people.” Gatsby is somewhat mysterious in the book, but for the musical Kerrigan felt he needed to be more than a symbol. “In the novel,” she says, “you look at him as an idea … but he has to become somebody that you care about.”

Kerrigan was especially interested in fleshing out the female characters. “I didn’t feel emotionally connected” to any of the women, she says. Daisy is an especially fascinating character, she says. “She’s really complex and she’s not 100% likeable. Those are interesting qualities to explore.”

Kerrigan lifted many lines directly from the novel, promising numerous Easter Eggs for people who love “Gatsby” and Fitzgerald. “Anywhere that I could pull from his language, anywhere the lyrics could pull from his language, we did it,” she says. “There are so many iconic, beautiful moments, we wanted to pay homage to them.’’ Still, she acknowledges tinkering with some of the plot lines, eliminating many of flashbacks and occasionally reversing the order (Daisy’s well-known line at the beginning of the novel about wishing her daughter to be “a beautiful fool” now comes at the end of the show).


For people who truly love the novel, this might be considered heresy. Paula Uruburu, a professor at Hofstra University who saw the show recently, says “Gatsby” is one of her favorite novels. “It’s still one of the go-to novels they teach in high school,” says the Lindenhurst resident. “The plot is fairly simple and it’s relatively short for a classic novel.”

The novel has special meaning if you grew up in New York, she says. “Long Island is such a feature of the novel,” she says. “There are very few famous classic novels that you could say are set where you grew up.”

Uruburu has taught “Gatsby” for the past 40 years, including in her current film adaptation class — there are four “Gatsby” films including a 1926 silent version. Her immediate reaction to the musical was “if I weren’t so familiar with it I would have enjoyed the show more.”

Noting that any adaptation of a well-known text is daunting, she recognizes that the main challenge is pleasing the audience. “The sets, the music, the dancing, the costumes,” she says, “all capture the zeitgeist of the Jazz Age in its wild optimism and potential for corruption.” Several songs convey the Roaring Twenties spirit of the novel, she says, though admitting she was waiting for one called “her voice is full of money” — a famous line from the book.

Walter Raubicheck of Elmont, who teaches literature at Pace University in Manhattan, has not seen the musical and says he’s concerned about how “my favorite book” will be portrayed. “I love to read the book because of the style,” he says. “Sentence for sentence, it’s stunning writing … 'The Great Gatsby'   deserves its reputation as his [Fitzgerald's] masterpiece.”

A member of the F. Scott Fitgerald Society, Raubicheck sheds some light on the Long Island connection, explaining that the author lived in Great Neck when he started to write the novel. The book “is certainly set on Long Island,” he says, adding Fitzgerald spent a lot of time with his friend Ring Lardner, who lived on Manhasset Bay. “They used to drink together on the porch overlooking the bay,” says Raubicheck. “I’m sure one night they saw a green light across the water.” But Fitzgerald did not live on the water, his home was in town (6 Gateway Dr.), a short walk from the Long Island Rail Road.

In the 1920s, Groucho Marx rented this house on the...

The Lardner home was probably on Fitzgerald’s mind as he was writing. But Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, attended many parties in Gold Coast mansions when they lived on the Island from 1922 to 1924. Eleanor Cox-Nihill, who runs Gatsby boat tours every summer, shows customers several houses on the tour that were around in Fitzgerald’s time. The tour covers Sands Point (East Egg in the book) where celebrities like financiers Jock Whitney had homes, and Great Neck (West Egg), where Oscar Hammerstein lived for a time. The Gold Coast attracted other notables of the era, including comedian Groucho Marx.

People always want to know which is the Gatsby house, says Cox-Nihill, but she quickly shoots that down. “There was no one house,” she says. “This is fiction. I try to encourage them to soak up what they’re looking at.” Meanwhile, Raubicheck points out, the author spent the summer of 1920 in a small cottage in Westport, Connecticut, next door to a grand mansion where the owner threw wild parties, very much like the setting in the novel. “When he started writing the book in 1923,” says Raubicheck, “I think he had both Long Island and Connecticut in mind.”


As to whether one person inspired Gatsby, Fitzgerald scholars seem to believe the character was a composite as well, though a current podcast on Audible takes a hard look at Max Gerlach. The Manhattan bootlegger threw lavish parties, never wore the same shirt twice (the show has fun with Gatsby’s ginormous collection of shirts) and was fond of the phrase “Old Sport,” oft used by Gatsby, presumably to give the impression he came from old money. Despite all that, Raubicheck believes Gatsby is many people, including Fitzgerald himself. “I’m sure Gerlach and other people he met were on his mind,” says Raubicheck. “I never subscribe to the one-on-one theory with Fitzgerald.”

As portrayed by Jordan, Gatsby comes off as a man who wears many masks, trying to convince the world he is a debonair bon vivant. In Kerrigan’s mind, Gatsby is a “complicated tragic hero.” She describes him as someone with a lot of ambition, who in order to create opportunity “lies a lot. And he was really good at it.” For Gatsby, she says, the nearer he got to his dream, the further it slipped away. “The closer he gets to his goal,” she says, “the dream turns into something that’s a bit toxic and not actually achievable.”

Thinking about what Fitzgerald would make of bringing his masterwork to the stage, Kerrigan believes he would have loved it. “I like to think if we had F. Scott Fitzgerald around, he would understand and we could work it out together. He did love Broadway,” she says, “and he loved theater. I think he would want to make this a great success.”


Lose yourself in the world of “The Great Gatsby” with a two-hour boat tour of Manhasset Bay. Eleanor Cox-Nihill has been leading the tours since 2008, taking guests out into the bay for a glimpse of the homes that were around when Fitzgerald was writing the novel.

Customers include fans of the book, fans of the time period and people who simply enjoy a nice boat ride, she says, adding that Baz Luhrmann took the tour prior to shooting his 2013 movie adaptation.

WHEN | WHERE 1-3 p.m. June 8 and 22, July 14 and Sept. 8, leaving from Inspiration Wharf, 405 Main St., Port Washington

INFO $45; 917-941-4504,

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Get Cracking

Looking for an intricate diversion? Pick this puzzle by Michael Schlossberg — what’s inside pays off.

A black-and-white photo of Nigel Godley grinning as he hands fanned-out paper bills to a cashier in a department store.

By Caitlin Lovinger

Jump to: Tricky Clues | Today’s Theme

SUNDAY PUZZLE — Joel Fagliano, in his print introduction to this grid, writes: “Michael Schlossberg, of Bend, Ore., is a doctor specializing in internal medicine. This is his 11th crossword for the paper, and his fifth Sunday.”

Mr. Schlossberg makes a mean Sunday puzzle, and the concept of this one is over-the-top fun to work through. It’s a great example of a visual element that took intense skill to execute, but the payoff is worth it.

Today’s Theme

The mechanisms in this grid look intimidating, don’t they? Seven round structures, each three squares in diameter, and each with a keyhole at its center, beneath a box containing a circle. Those keyholes indicate locks, and the title of the puzzle, “Get Cracking,” is a hint to the solver’s task. Fortunately, this imposing theme isn’t too hard to “break into,” but prepare yourself for some suspense!

Each of the seven mechanisms is the cylinder of a lock, formed by four squares that connect to other entries in the puzzle at 90-degree increments. None of the connecting entries are hard to figure out, thank goodness. The complexity here is primarily in the construction, which is quite a tour de force.

Take the “lock” in the northwest corner of the puzzle, which is formed by the last letters of 28-Across and 19-Down and the first letters of 29-Across and 33-Down. At 28-Across, “Unimpressed” solves to BLAS E , and at 19-Down, “Channel with on-air fund-raising” solves to PB S . At 29-Across, “Sheet under a tent” is T ARP, and at 33-Down, “Taunt” is J EER. The circled square that I mentioned, which sits right above the center “keyhole,” is the final square in 19-Down. For now, that square contains the S in PB S . Those four letters — E , S , T and J — are the critical elements in this puzzle’s revealer.

As the grid fills in, so will each lock and its set of four letters. The clues involved are not terribly difficult, but they are vague enough that they might solve rather slowly. For example, I thought that 30-Across, “Sharp pain,” was “pang” instead of STAB, and I needed hints from two crossing letters to understand that 107-Across, “Letters that sound out a sentence,” was IOU (which is clever and simple, in retrospect). Once your locks have all their letters, the magic begins.

As the note on this puzzle (and at the top of this column) indicates, each of those seven cylinders must rotate, or tumble, in order for the lock to open. When it is turned correctly — with a crank of 90, 180, or 270 degrees — four new words are created in the entries around the lock. In the northwest corner example, the key is turned 180 degrees, which puts the bottom letter at the top, the left-hand letter at the right and so on. This turns T ARP into E ARP, J EER into S EER, BLAS E into BLAS T and, at the top of the cylinder, PB S into PB J . Remember the circled square? J is its correct occupant.

Gradually, new letters land in all the circled squares. When all the tumblers are in the correct positions, those circled squares in the grid spell an appropriate prize for cracking this safe wide open: Everybody hits the JACKPOT.

Tricky Clues

51A. Did anyone else misread this entry the way I did? For “Small Southwestern birds of prey,” I eventually deduced EL FOWLS, como “ el pollo loco ,” and nearly missed learning of the enchanting ELF OWLS that live in dry thorn forests and sound like they’re giggling . Back to remedial Spanish for me!

111A. This is a puzzle debut that’s new to me, too. The “Speculative fiction subgenre that envisions a sustainable-energy future” is SOLARPUNK, a term that apparently originated in 2008 as an adaptation of steampunk with real-life plausibility .

77D. “Distracted Boyfriend, e.g.” falls into the “if you know, you know” category. It’s a photographed moment that became a MEME template for all manner of temptations .

85D. Old English major here, confessing that this clue sneaked up on me. “What Tom and Daisy embody in ‘The Great Gatsby’” solves to OLD MONEY. This entry and a couple of others are probably winks to today’s theme.

Constructor Notes

Happy Sunday, everybody! Let’s rob a casino! I started the construction by placing the circles. Seven was the most I could fit. All had to be placed at least three squares from any border, and none of the theme answers could connect with another. I settled on JACKPOT as the 12 o’clock word. Then I started on one of the dial’s four theme words and branched out from there. To make solving easier, I constructed the grid so that no matter how each dial was turned, there was only one possible alternate answer for each theme word. So for ARK, I made sure that ARC was the only option, and not “are,” “arm,” “art,” etc., when turning the dial. This had a knock-on effect that made the other dials and the surrounding grid progressively more difficult to fill — the entire process took days. I did the best I could to avoid clunky entries (NEGATRON) and tricky crossings. Thanks for doing my puzzle!

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