The Great Gatsby Study Guide
The Great Gatsby: Chapter Summaries
The Great Gatsby: Themes
The Great Gatsby: Characters
The Great Gatsby: Analysis
The Great Gatsby: Quotes
The Great Gatsby: Critical Essays
The Great Gatsby: Multiple-Choice Quizzes
The Great Gatsby: Questions & Answers
The Great Gatsby: Introduction
The Great Gatsby: Biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald
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.