The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Irony In The Great Gatsby

What moments reveal irony in The Great Gatsby? What chapters are they in and what does the irony reveal?

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Bruce Bergman eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The Great Gatsby offers many examples of irony. A number of these moments have already been pointed out in the posts above. 

The novel opens with one bit of irony that is often commented on. Nick describes himself on the opening page of the novel as someone "inclined to reserve all judgments" yet in the same paragraph he presents an evaluation (a judgment) of the many young men that have taken opportunities to tell him their stories. These stories are, according to Nick, "plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions." While Nick is not exactly condemning these young men and their stories, he is offering a judgment and situating himself as a narrator that will comment subjectively on his narrative.

Another example of irony in Gatsby is the scene where Daisy cries over Gatsby's shirts. 

“They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed.… “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such—such beautiful shirts before.”

This episode takes place in Chapter 5 and presents an irony within the romance of Daisy and Gatsby. The shirts are symbolic, functioning as an emblem of Gatsby's success and the material comfort that his success brings. Such success is ironic in two ways in this scene.

First, Gatsby and Daisy were once in love but did not marry because Gatsby was too poor. Acquiring wealth, he has now become Daisy's ideal match. Second, the love affair between Gatsby and Daisy is repeatedly contextualized - by Gatsby - as an affair of the heart. There is a sense that this affair represents almost a platonic ideal, a perfect romance. Yet the "heart" of the romance is as materialistic as it is emotional.

Affection and love seem to take a back seat to Daisy's impression of Gatsby's business success (and to Gatsby's desire to prove himself materially worthy of Daisy's love).

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junebug614 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One of the most memorable examples of irony in The Great Gatsby is when Gatsby sits out all night making sure that "Tom doesn't hurt [Daisy]" after the infamous yellow car incident.  While he is outside lovingly and gallantly watching over her, Daisy is inside making up with Tom. 

 This irony reveals much about Gatsby and Daisy.   With Gatsby, we as the reader are struck with an overwhelming sympathy and pity for him.  We see now that Gatsby has lived his whole live trying to live up to an ideal that he'll never reach in Daisy's eyes.  With Daisy, we see that she is no better than Tom, very disloyal, and will probably never really be happy with her life.   

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Many questions about irony have been asked and answered for "The Great Gatsby." Please see the link below for more information.

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shmindle | Student

First of all, there are three types of irony--

Verbal: a discrepancy between what is said and what is meant

Dramatic: when the audience know more than the characters do

Situational: when the opposite of what is expected occurs

The irony in The Great Gatsby is mostly dramatic/situational. To answer your question, there aren't three particular moments of irony, but there are a few that stand out.

1). When Myrtle, Tom Buchanon's mistress, is struck and killed by Jay Gatsby's car, he logically assumes that Gatsby was the one that killed her. However, ironically, Daisy was the one driving, and Tom does not know that.

2). When Tom finds out about the wreck in #1, he tells Myrtle's husband, who owns an auto repair shop, that he finally has business. It's irony because he realizes later that the person struck was his mistress.

3). Everyone comes to Gatsby's parties, but no one comes to his funeral.

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