Thursday, May 2, 2013

Classics: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Need some classic American literature that'll keep the pages briskly turning? Anyone who hasn't already should pick up F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, a story told through the eyes of Nick Carraway about his rich and mysterious neighbor, Jay Gatsby.

Gatsby has elaborate parties that just about everybody attends, but no one seems to really know anything about him. There are so many rumors about him, and after being invited to one of the infamous parties, Nick Carraway may be able to find out what's real; how Gatsby became such a wealthy icon, who he did it for, and how he sleekly plans to take her heart back.

But before I read The Great Gatsby, I wasn't aware that this story would be so full of this drama and emotion, for each corner of the Internet seemed to describe it in three words: the American dream. This description is vague, misleading, and kind of cheesy. Whenever I think of the concept of the American dream, I think of The Grapes of Wrath... The Great Gatsby is nothing like I initially expected based on such a dull description. Is there an American dream theme still present? Yes, but it's demonstrated in the busy city life with snooty rich people surrounding poor Nick. When I think of this novel, I don't really think about the American dream concept so much. I think of Gatsby himself, and I think of Daisy and their nearly hopeless situation. I think of the climax that was bound to happen, but I never expected it to be so severe and intricate.

Although this novel is (obviously) centered around Gatsby and his story, I certainly don't think Nick is a dead-beat vessel that just tells us what's going on. Sure, he was kind of an average guy, the sane man amid the craziness that cast a shadow on everyone else, but he wasn't boring or not relatable. I liked him; I connected with him when he talked about the hustle of city life and how one may seem lonely even though he/she is surrounded by people. And really, telling Gatsby's story through Nick was probably the best, most realistic way to do it, because the average person will only hear about men like Gatsby or witness men like Gatsby, but never actually be Gatsby. We're all mostly like Nick, observers of inevitable chaos.

However, I'm not saying that Gatsby's situation isn't relatable, because it is. That's part of the point. Gatsby, like many people, clings to the past and longs to return to the time when he was happiest even though he can never go back. But I've never heard anyone try as hard as Gatsby did to get it back.

And symbolism, symbolism everywhere! The eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleberg, the green light, Gatsby's beautiful shirts, knowing everyone and no one... It all captivated me. Plus, it was all written in a beautiful way. Don't get me wrong, Fitzgerald isn't a perfect writer; he has some flaws. The biggest issue was the insufficient amount of commas, which I normally wouldn't forgive, but Fitzgerald has a way of making everything sound so pretty.

From what I've seen in the trailers, The Great Gatsby's new film adaptation looks like it'll be just as pretty as Fitzgerald's writing. Everything about screams 'CLASSINESS AND EMOTION,' so I will definitely go see it. (Besides, the music for this film is supposed to be amazing; that's always a plus!)

That being said, I definitely recommend anyone who hasn't read the book to read it before seeing the movie. It doesn't matter how much someone likes/dislikes classic literature to appreciate this novel; it feels ahead of its time in terms of active entertainment value. There's something in it for everybody, and basically all of it made me happy.

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