The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Describe The Great Gatsby as a romance.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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On many levels, I think that Fitzgerald brings out how the concept of "romance" exists in social construction.  Given how romance indicates a type of love that resides beneath surface level, Fitzgerald's assertion of this being a social construction is a powerful one.  Since "romance," as a concept, is supposed to transcend social developments, Fitzgerald's depiction of it as one that exists in social construction means that such a vision of "romance" is not real, living as a hollow shell until one or both people realize this emptiness.  If the novel is about Gatsby's romance with Daisy, this certainly proves true.  For their part, neither Gatsby or Daisy represent true love.  Gatsby is more enamored with the idea of being in love, a vision of Daisy as something that represents "the best" or a signal that he has "arrived."  At best, Daisy has become so driven by social reality that she is incapable of understanding the true and emotional dimensions of love and of romance.  At her worst, Daisy is easily bought and believes romance to be a commodity that can be traded on for social advancement.  Either way, this cannot be romance.  Both Gatsby and Daisy might be in love with the idea of being in love, or be enamored with the idea of romance, but the moment emotional depth becomes a part o this configuration, both of them fall short.  In this, the novel is not a romance novel as much as it is a realistic critique of how people perceive their relationships.  In this element of criticism, the novel acquires a depth and perception that enables it to stand above many others in the realm of literature.

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