Introduction to The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby is the third novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Published in 1925, it follows narrator Nick Carroway as he assists the enigmatic and wealthy Jay Gatsby in reuniting with Gatsby’s youthful love, Daisy. Their efforts are complicated by the fact that Daisy is already married to the abusive and unfaithful Tom. As Nick learns more about Gatsby’s past, he begins to realize that class is defined by more than wealth, and his disdain for the high society of New York grows. 

Widely regarded as Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, The Great Gatsby is a haunting examination of wealth, class, love, and the perils of the American dream. Gatsby represents a generation of earnest, working-class hopefuls who successfully climbed the socioeconomic ladder only to discover that the gates to high society were still closed to them. The decadent, careless lifestyle of the wealthy and powerful destroys people like Gatsby and renders the formation of genuine relationships impossible.

Some scholars have noted the similarities between Jay Gatsby’s story and Fitzgerald’s life. Fitzgerald was born a working-class midwesterner before he attended Princeton college, at which point he began aspiring to the upper classes. He enlisted in the army after college and fell in love with his future wife, Zelda Sayre, while stationed in Alabama. In order to prove himself to Zelda and her family, Fitzgerald became determined to find success as an author. When his first novel, This Side of Paradise, became an instant success, he triumphantly married Zelda, and the couple moved to New York. The Great Gatsby is in many ways indicative of the ensuing disillusionment Fitzgerald experienced as a result of his newfound wealth and celebrity status.

A Brief Biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940) was an American writer whose novel The Great Gatsby is widely regarded as one of the most influential works of the twentieth century. If great art is born of great misery, that might help explain Gatsby's success. The novel tells the story of Fitzgerald’s “Lost Generation” during the Jazz Age. The term "Lost Generation" describes the young people of the 1920s who, like Fitzgerald, felt purposeless in a world of excess. Fitzgerald also wrestled with many personal demons—alcoholism in particular, as well as his problematic relationship with his wife, Zelda. Zelda came from a markedly higher social ranking, so Fitzgerald constantly struggled with feelings of inadequacy. Despite his many publications, he died believing he was a failure as a writer. History has judged otherwise, and today Fitzgerald is considered one of America’s most celebrated authors.

Frequently Asked Questions about The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

At the end of The Great Gatsby, the character whom Nick dubs “Owl Eyes” shows up at Gatsby’s funeral in order to pay his last respects; as a guest of Gatsby’s earlier lavish parties, this man sees...

Latest answer posted September 12, 2020, 4:48 pm (UTC)

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The Great Gatsby

In the final paragraphs of The Great Gatsby, Nick ponders the way the land upon which he stands must have looked to the Dutch explorers who landed there for the first time. They must have seen the...

Latest answer posted September 13, 2020, 11:29 am (UTC)

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The Great Gatsby

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald makes clever use of color symbolism, using colors to indirectly convey information about the the lives of certain characters. GrayIn The Great Gatsby, the color gray...

Latest answer posted September 13, 2020, 11:58 am (UTC)

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The Great Gatsby

There are many unforgettable symbols in The Great Gatsby. Indeed, the work as a whole is highly symbolic, making it a particularly rich piece of literature that repays those who reread it several...

Latest answer posted September 13, 2020, 11:32 am (UTC)

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The Great Gatsby

In Fitzgerald's classic novel The Great Gatsby, Daisy is portrayed as an extremely superficial, materialistic woman, who is primarily concerned with living in luxury and enjoying the privileges of...

Latest answer posted September 13, 2020, 2:44 pm (UTC)

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The Great Gatsby

Gatsby is more obsessed with Daisy than in love with her, though he also loves her. As Nick observes when Gatsby reunites with Daisy after five years, Gatsby's dream of her "had gone beyond her,...

Latest answer posted September 13, 2020, 11:25 am (UTC)

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The Great Gatsby

Some additional symbols in The Great Gatsby include Gatsby's mansion, car, and library. Gatsby's mansion and car:Gatsby's ostentatious home and car could certainly be considered symbolic of his...

Latest answer posted September 13, 2020, 2:40 pm (UTC)

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The Great Gatsby

Although Daisy may have loved Gatsby years ago when they first met in Kentucky, it's questionable whether she truly loves him when they meet again. On the whole, it seems that their brief affair is...

Latest answer posted September 13, 2020, 1:12 pm (UTC)

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The Great Gatsby

Although F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby to be a commentary on his own times, it still holds relevance for readers today. This story delves into universal human themes that still...

Latest answer posted April 6, 2021, 7:32 pm (UTC)

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The Great Gatsby

Jay Gatsby—or James Gatz, to give him his real name—is a very complex character. This is part of the reason why he's such an endless source of fascination, both for readers and the other characters...

Latest answer posted September 13, 2020, 11:10 am (UTC)

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The Great Gatsby

At its core, The Great Gatsby is an exploration of the American Dream. The American Dream refers to the widespread belief that anyone in America can, through hard work and perseverance, attain...

Latest answer posted September 13, 2020, 11:22 am (UTC)

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The Great Gatsby

In chapter 5, Gatsby reunites with Daisy at Nick Carraway's home and proceeds to take her on a tour of his magnificent mansion next door. It has been five long years since Gatsby has seen Daisy,...

Latest answer posted September 13, 2020, 2:07 pm (UTC)

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The Great Gatsby

Jay Gatsby, originally James Gatz, was born to poor farmers in North Dakota. Although Gatsby grew up poor, he dreamed of climbing the social ladder and becoming a member of the social elite. When...

Latest answer posted September 12, 2020, 1:00 pm (UTC)

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The Great Gatsby

Readers do not actually learn who gets Gatsby's money when he dies. Of course, he does not have any children or obvious heirs, to inherit his wealth, but it turns out that he does not really have...

Latest answer posted September 12, 2020, 11:29 am (UTC)

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The Great Gatsby

In The Great Gatsby, Daisy does not intentionally try to kill Myrtle Wilson; she accidentally runs her over when Myrtle dashes into the street. In chapter 7, Daisy, Tom, Gatsby, Nick, and Jordan...

Latest answer posted September 12, 2020, 12:37 pm (UTC)

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The Great Gatsby

Jay Gatsby is a living embodiment of the American Dream. A man from a humble Midwestern background, he's become phenomenally rich and successful, enjoying all the trappings of his enormous wealth....

Latest answer posted September 12, 2020, 11:07 am (UTC)

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The Great Gatsby

Gatsby's love for Daisy is ultimately doomed for a number of reasons. Gatsby believes that it is possible to repeat the past, and he unrealistically expects that he and Daisy will simply resume...

Latest answer posted September 12, 2020, 11:58 am (UTC)

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The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby is considered a classic in the American literary canon and is widely taught in schools. However, like many classic literary works, it has been banned or challenged in some school...

Latest answer posted September 12, 2020, 11:28 am (UTC)

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The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby is a work of fiction, but there are true elements in the story. For instance, the character of Meyer Wolfsheim is, allegedly, based on a real world figure, Arnold Rothstein, who...

Latest answer posted September 12, 2020, 11:44 am (UTC)

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The Great Gatsby

One of the main messages in The Great Gatsby is that we can never go back to the way things were in the past, no matter how much we may yearn to. After fighting in the Great War (World War I), for...

Latest answer posted September 12, 2020, 11:16 am (UTC)

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