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Why is The Great Gatsby considered good literature?

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brandih | eNotes Employee

Posted August 5, 2013 at 4:47 PM via web

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Why is The Great Gatsby considered good literature?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 5, 2013 at 7:22 PM (Answer #1)

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F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby has earned the classification as a worthy novel and a classic work because it meets the following criteria:

1. It clearly is an artistic work that expresses the quality of art; namely, the representation of life, truth, and beauty. Perhaps its most superior quality, The Great Gatsby is written with Fitzgerald's lyrical prose which is replete with imagery and symbolism that delight the senses and minds of readers. Such imagery as the green light, the white and gold that are applied to Daisy give greater meaning to her character and the theme of the corruption of the wealthy class in the 1920s. In addition, with its characterization, setting such as the Valley of Ashes, symbolic of the corruption and waste of industrialization, and its plot is a tableau of the Jazz Age with its characterization and setting and plot.

2. It embodies a universal appeal through the integration of themes that are timeless, thus, touching readers of all kinds. Certainly, the message of the falsity of materialism--

a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy's wing--

is a universal theme. 

3. It makes connections with readers' hearts and imaginations. Despite his moral corruption of being a bootlegger and his false pretense of being someone he is not, Jay Gatsby inspires the reader's feelings and, in a "transcendent sense" he touches the imagination with his idealism and passionate love. Truly, he attains an almost mythological quality as he is compared to Trimalchio as he hosts parties and drives a car, whose windows catch a thousand suns and whose fenders "spread like wings," a description that recalls Icarus of Greek mythology.

4. It stands the test of time in its quality and uniqueness.  Fitzgerald's novel is a masterpiece with its literary techniques of imagery, symbolism and metaphoric quality. It is, indeed, unique in its style that even incorporates songs into the narrative.

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Wiggin42 | Student, Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted March 23, 2014 at 3:31 PM (Answer #2)

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The Great Gatsby is considered good literature because its a classic novel that explores universal themes of love and rejection. It also portrays the American Dream and demonstrates how the American dream is really an illusion. The novel resonates deeply with people on an emotional, mental, and psychological level. 

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