Why is The Great Gatsby considered good literature?

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A primary reason The Great Gatsby is considered good literature is the lyrical style in which Fitzgerald writes. Words and ideas stay with us because they are phrased poetically. For example, it is hard to forget Nick's use of a metaphor likening Daisy and Tom to "foul dust" swirling...

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A primary reason The Great Gatsby is considered good literature is the lyrical style in which Fitzgerald writes. Words and ideas stay with us because they are phrased poetically. For example, it is hard to forget Nick's use of a metaphor likening Daisy and Tom to "foul dust" swirling around Gatsby or the alliterative 'b' sounds of the novel's last line, along with the image it evokes:

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Second, the novel offers us well-rounded characters who are, on the whole, a mix of virtues and flaws. Gatsby is an unlikely hero, a grand dreamer with a sincere heart but also a criminal grifter. Tom is arrogant, racist, and cruel but also pathetic in his stupidity. Nick writes beautifully and raises our sympathy with his lonely longings, but he is also a liar who pretends—or perhaps cons himself into believing—that honesty is his cardinal virtue. This mixture of virtue and vice creates characters who seem as if they are real people.

Third, Fitzgerald provides a compelling plot of love lost, then regained at great cost, and then lost again—the second time tragically. Finally, the theme of setting back the clock to make things right again speaks to a recurrent longing in all of us for impossible restorations of a fantasized past.

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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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