Monday 10 August 2020

Book Review of 'The Great Gatsby' by Scott Fitzgerald

"Whenever you feel 
like criticizing any one, 
just remember that 
all the people 
in this world 
haven't had the advantages 
that you've had."

This is a great line on the first page, one that I have always loved. This is the second time I'm reading the novel. I had read it last year and wanted to revisit it again. As expected, the second read allowed the seeping of more details and information that was previously missed or overlooked during the first time.


The cheating, hypocrite husband, Tom Buchanan; his hassled wife Daisy, who lives a masked life; the abused,  jealous mistress, Myrtle Wilson and her clueless husband, George Wilson are the key characters. The narrator Nick Carraway and his golfer girlfriend, Jordan Baker share an interesting chemistry. However, it is the protagonist, the enigmatic Jay Gatsby, who steals the limelight. The characters revolve around the story with changing nuances, that irreversibly affect one another's lives.
Gatsby is not just a mere character. He is a symbol of the sheer hollowness of the great American dream. He also represents the shattered dream of the past that eventually ruins his life.


Diverse themes & myriad layers, with ample symbolism, describe the book. The repercussions of chasing American dream during the 'roaring twenties' and the aftermath is depicted with skillful clarity.
Deep & enlightening in multi-layered facets, this story leaves readers with a sense of melancholy, coupled with disgust, that almost borders on denial.
A mirror to American culture of the 'roaring twenties', this is one rare novel where it is hard to root for, or like, even a single character, except maybe the narrator Carraway. Every one of them is real, too real for comfort. And these facets are too universal to be representative of America alone.
Highly obsessive materialism, infidelity & surreal chasing of the 'American dream' leaves no space for love or the true comprehension of worthwhile relationships. This tragedy of human existence is epitomised by all the main characters, more so by Jay Gatsby himself. 
The interesting aspect is the way the narrator doubts Gatsby, then loathes him along the way and finally finds himself warming to the flawed man, towards the end of the novel, affecting readers' mindsets similarly, in the process. 
What initially seems like an obsessive love story reveals layers of grey shades with skewed priorities & unpeels deeper nuances to every character. Well, the consensus? Human character is rather flawed. And this classic is a masterpiece, that highlights the myriad foibles of humans.
I watched the movie only after I read the book. I always read the books first. Indian star Amitabh Bachchan's presence in it, was a compelling reason enough, although his role as Mr. Meyer Wolfsheim was too small for me to relish.  


To conclude, read the book. One may or may not relate to the characters, but somewhere, one may be reminded of someone one has met or known one's  life, that reminded one of Daisy or Tom or even Gatsby. And about people who can never move on, who cannot let go of the past until it ruins their presents and destroys their future. 
As Nick Carraway says at the very end,
"So we beat on, boats against the current, 
borne back ceaselessly into the past."

Some Interesting Quotes:

I was alone again in the unquiet darkness.

I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.

I'm glad it's a girl. And I hope she'll be a fool - 
What’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon & the day after that & the next thirty years?

Oh, you want too much! I love you now—isn't that enough? I can't help what's past. I did love him once -but I loved you too.

Can't repeat the past?
Your wife doesn't love you, said Gatsby. She's never loved you. She loves me.

book photography: Chethana


  1. Well this is my favorite novel as it was in our course. The Great Gatsby is something that lived a life. 21 years back 1999 I read it. Somewhere my life as now it's in the phase of exile loneliness since 4 years. But I kept myself busy in this virtual world. Will watch the movie someday

    1. Yes, do watch the movie, you might enjoy reading the book again too. Thank you for your comment.