“The Great Gatsby”: meaning and analysis of the book by Scott Fitzgerald

“The Great Gatsby”: meaning and analysis of the book by Scott Fitzgerald Literature

A sad story about love, hope and dreams in the Jazz Age. In 1925, a book was published, which is considered to be the pinnacle of Fitzgerald’s work. In it, the writer tried to explain why living in a dream is deadly. Both for the dreamer himself and for those around him.

Fitzgerald brings a classic plot to life. It’s about a poor farmer’s son falling in love with a beautiful princess. He turns himself into a mysterious prince, all for the sake of reciprocal love and recognition. Only the ending of the fairy tale turns out to be not only sad, but also meaningless. Achievements of the hero are not needed not only by others, they did not help even himself.

What is The Great Gatsby about?

The novel is narrated by Nick Carraway. He comes from a wealthy family in the Midwest, graduated from Yale University, went to the front. Now he himself does not know what he wants from life. Therefore, the young man decides to move to New York, where he will engage in credit business. He arrives in 1922, rents a house on the coast of Long Island. According to him, he settled on a cape where just rich people live, in fact, upstarts who have recently become rich.

Opposite lies the cape, where people and high society live – noble (by American standards) and rich. His distant relative (second cousin) Daisy lives there with her husband Tom Buchanan. With Tom, the narrator studied at the university. Nick considers him a fabulously rich boor and a fool with ridiculously high conceit. But Daisy seems pretty and sad to him. Also in the room is Jordan, Daisy’s friend.

Soon, Nick learns that the family life of a relative is not going well – Tom openly cheats on her, now he has an affair with the wife of an auto mechanic, Myrtle. The conversation turns to Nick’s neighbor, Gatsby. More precisely, about his luxurious mansion and mysterious wealth. Every weekend a lot of guests come there, music sounds, grandiose parties are held.

Soon Nick receives an invitation to a similar holiday, but among the crowd of invitees he cannot find the owner in any way. The guests frankly gossip about Gatsby, claiming that he is a crime boss, he had to kill, and in general he is a “dark horse”. Finally, Nick sees a young man who seems to be familiar to him from military service. This is the owner of the house – Jay Gatsby.

Soon a short acquaintance, almost friendship, is established between the men. The mysterious millionaire reveals a little about himself, but Nick suspects that much of what he said is fiction. But from Jordan, he learns that Gatsby and Daisy loved each other when he was a poor officer. But in the end, a girl from a wealthy family married Tom. Now Nick realizes that the glamorous Gatsby holidays are just a means to attract his old love. Indeed, according to the logic of the newly-born rich man, Daisy rejected him only because of poverty, but now she will understand that they can be together. Nick, fulfilling the request of a friend, arranges a meeting for them. Indeed, the young woman is happy to see a former admirer, old feelings are alive.

When Tom finds out about Daisy’s infidelity, he becomes furious. He threatens Gatsby that he will notify the authorities about his criminal business. After all, Gatsby is a bootlegger. An illegal liquor dealer, hence the man’s enormous wealth. But when her lover begins to persuade Daisy to explain to her husband that she never loved him, the young woman refuses to speak frankly.

Everyone except Gatsby understands that Daisy has no intention of leaving Tom. But the naive millionaire is sure that she just needs to discuss the details of the divorce with her husband. After a hard conversation, the company goes home. But the car that Gatsby and Daisy are in gets hit. Myrtle, Tom’s mistress, who quarreled with her husband, literally rushes under their wheels. The car does not stop, leaving the scene of the tragedy. Daisy was driving, although Gatsby is about to take the blame.

The next night, Gatsby spends under the windows of the Buchanons. He believes that the woman informs the unrestrained Tom about the divorce and is afraid that he will hit her. But the spouses go to bed after the conversation. In desperation, the millionaire sits at Nick’s and tells him the story of his love.

For her sake, he changed his life – from the son of a farmer named James Getz became the heir to a wealthy family, Jay Gatsby. And all in vain. The next day, the husband of the deceased Myrtle sneaks into the luxurious mansion. He was told (Tom) that it was Gatsby who was driving. The owner of the house is found dead in the pool, a little further on, Myrtle’s husband who committed suicide. Nick has to take on the organization of the funeral, because the deceased had no other friends. And the Buchanon family leaves town without an address.

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Now the narrator understands how naive and romantic Gatsby was, how desperately he believed in his dream of love. And Daisy and Tom seem like spoiled children to Nick, they destroy other people’s lives, and then run away, hiding “for their money, their all-consuming carelessness.” And other people have to solve problems.

Genre, direction

The work is written in the genre of “novel”. The direction of realism is typical for the author in this work. Some of the critics call his novel a chronicle of jazz. Fitzgerald was able to accurately convey the life of that time. Adding music, colors, mixing secrets and omissions, sprinkling all this with deep feeling and slight despair, Francis Fitzgerald is preparing a truly magnificent masterpiece. He leads us through the labyrinth of Gatsby’s life path, intertwining it with the fate of other people. And only by the middle of the novel does the writer reveal to us the true reason for all the actions of the protagonist.

There is no pure love in this story, as, for example, in the novels of the 19th century. This work is like a hammer for rose-colored readers. The author subtly and clearly paints the world as it happens when people behave selfishly.


The author himself said that the main idea of ​​the work is to show the injustice of the fate of a poor young man who cannot marry the girl he dreams of. Fitzgerald claimed that such a topic is constantly spinning in his head, since he himself was in such a position.

Once upon a time, a young, ambitious young man unknown to anyone dared to ask for the hand of the daughter of a big businessman and owner of a decent fortune. Of course, the girl herself refused with a laugh, because she moved in secular circles, where it is vital to be a rich man. But she left a mocking hope: the groom had to earn a million, and then she could become his wife. And then Fitzgerald began to write. His works were not successful at first, but one novel turned his fate around: popularity brought him wealth. Zelda, Scott’s lover, had to give in, but she herself already wanted it. Her acquaintance became a celebrity, was a member of the best houses of the sophisticated bourgeois. So, the writer achieved his goal, but he always remembered at what cost.

Main characters and their characteristics

  1. The main character is Nick Carraway . It is from his face that the story is told. It is through him that we learn at first glance the intricate, but in fact simple story of Gatsby’s life. In fact, it is impossible to say anything specific about this character. In the books, he is our guide along the path of Gatsby’s fate. He runs into other heroes who tell us all the new details about the “Great”. We don’t know much about his family, we know enough about his feelings for Jordan Baker and his feelings for Jay Gatsby himself. Our narrator is not devoid of wisdom and subtle understanding of reality. He is a humble and active person.
  2. Jay Gatsby is an enterprising and successful man, he is about 30 years old (like Nick). For our narrator, as for other guests, he was a man whose past and present are shrouded in a veil of secrecy. All his wealth was in full view of everyone, but his soul and all his essence were hidden from human eyes. His main feature is purposefulness. All his life he loved one person, was devoted only to him, and everything he did was in order to win his favor.
  3. Daisy (Desy) Buchanan is Nick’s second cousin, she is about 23 years old. From a wealthy family. She is the type of person who needs someone to guide her through life. That person was her husband. Daisy was a smart girl. In her youth, she loved Gatsby very much, but when he left, she began dating Thomas. She did not love him, but her parents approved of this marriage and condemned her relationship with Gatsby. Even at the end of the book, she still stays with her husband, because he is more reliable for her than Gatsby. She is used to living with him.
  4. Thomas “Tom” Buchanan is a very unpleasant type. Good-natured in appearance, but in fact a very slippery person. Disrespectful to his wife. Changes without hiding it. For him, women are only creatures who have to give birth and raise children. Does whatever he wants. A dangerous and cunning hero.

Topics and issues

  1. This work covers many topics, but the main theme is, of course, the unequal position of people in society . Jay Gatsby and Daisy loved each other. She was the daughter of a wealthy man, he was a poor guy. They couldn’t be together. Everything was against it. The author talks about the problem of reprehensible attitudes between the rich and the poor. A person measures those around him by the size of his wallet, which leads to mistakes that are costly to a society that lives on false values.
  2. An equally important issue addressed here is life in illusions . Jay Gatsby, after parting with Daisy, did not stop thinking that someday he would come to her, there would be a fortune behind his back, and she, realizing that he still loved her, would return to him. But this is an illusion and nothing more. An unfinished goal that grew into a strong desire to prove to her that he was worthy of her hand. On the one hand, this is very good. Gatsby did well and got rich. On the other hand, he never built his life, in his soul he still remained what society considered an outcast and a pauper. He lived only for his beloved, and, in the end, having come to her, he forgot that time changes people.
  3. The theme of friendship and family is also raised . Gatsby was in hiding and didn’t really tell anything about himself, but, as it turns out at the end, he had a loving father who knew his whole story inside and out. He had Nick, who treated him with respect, while the “great” was rejected by everyone and everything. But even these real bonds cannot help a person realize his own importance and need. He is chasing phantom feelings that let him down, because they have long been gone. Unfortunately, we are rarely able to properly appreciate the importance of those dedicated and invisible people who are next to us, wherever we are.
  4. Also in the center of attention is the problem of habit and the fear of dropping it . Daisy is a slave to her cowardice and routine. She is afraid to break an unnecessary connection for the sake of a real feeling. For the sake of the comfort zone, a woman renounces happiness and betrays her dream.
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Meaning of The Great Gatsby

The idea of ​​the work is that life is not a fairy tale, but a tragedy, even if music sounds around and fish splashing of palms is heard. A huge number of trials can fall on your lot and, unfortunately, this does not mean that in the end you will be lucky, and everything will suddenly become justified. Jay Gatsby lived a hard life, he was a little secretive, but kept in his heart love and hope that sooner or later he would be happy with Daisy. But, as we can see, everything is different. She was afraid to leave her husband and child for the sake of an old love. Gatsby dies all alone. Daisy didn’t even come to his funeral. So, even when it seems to you that you deserve happiness, having endured many difficulties, this does not mean at all that some ephemeral force like justice should bring a reward in its teeth. Luck is as capricious and unpredictable as love:

The author also wanted to show the personal life of his country, how close relations of people develop in the era of rampant capitalism. Through the drama of the protagonist, we see how a person becomes just a producer of material values ​​and the owner of all kinds of benefits. He is valued in monetary terms, so he is forced to pursue financial solvency without sparing himself. This is how his time passes. So Gatsby missed his happiness, thinking that he would still have time to earn money and appear as a king, but, alas, the course of life is indifferent to people and their efforts. Success came to the man, but he did not help him turn back the clock.


The novel received good reviews in print media, but, nevertheless, the book did not sell out as quickly as the writer would like. Critics of the time were also not particularly willing to comment on his work in any way at all.

The famous writer Ernest Hemingway and Edith Wharton, who wrote more than 20 novels in her life, spoke positively about the novel. Only since 1945 did the popularity of Francis Fitzgerald increase. During the life of the writer, reviewers had a very biased attitude towards his work and only after his death changed their point of view.

Until now, there is no consensus about the importance, individuality and even genius of his novel. Each of the critics perceives and evaluates The Great Gatsby in their own way.

Analysis of the book “The Great Gatsby”

At the beginning of the novel, Nick immediately declares his ambivalent position. After all, in his opinion, Gatsby was the embodiment of everything “that I sincerely despise and despise.” But he immediately says that there was “something magnificent” in this man, “a rare gift of hope, a romantic fuse.” Indeed, it is not easy to understand the hero whose name the novel is named. His holidays are frankly ostentatious, he rather vulgarly demonstrates wealth. To match the host, the guests are noisy, spreading gossip, ugly drunk by the end of the reception.

But further acquaintance reveals that Gatsby is just a lonely man trying to return the woman he loves. He bought a house opposite her mansion, and now he organizes noisy gatherings in the hope that Daisy will one day come to him. At night, he looks up at the green light burning on the Buchanons’ porch, waiting for a meeting.

But the meeting with Daisy does not end with a happy ending. A romantic bootlegger simply does not see what kind of person his beloved is. She is not just married to a richer man, she is married to status, position in society. For all that Gatsby, who naively lies about a wealthy family, that he “collected precious stones, mainly rubies,” could never give Daisy. At most, she has an affair with him. But he needs so much more.

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Therefore, the death of Gatsby seems natural. He does not fit into this world of easy money and easy morals. Against the background of self-confident and deceitful volumes, Gatsby looks like an idiot in love. It is precisely the need for an ideal that suits his “capacity for admiration” that destroys him.

This is exactly the conclusion that Nick draws from the death of a friend and decides to leave New York for home.

The history of the creation of the book “The Great Gatsby”

Scott Fitzgerald was not an aspiring writer at the time of The Great Gatsby, he had already published a couple of novels. Critics considered him the most outstanding of the young writers. The novel was begun in New York in 1923 and completed in 1925 in the French Riviera.

The writer put all his skill into the book, trying to create his “great work”. Experienced critics and writers praised the book, but the public did not like the novel. The frivolous revelers of the “Jazz Age” did not want to listen to a man who said that they were in for a life collapse.

There is an opinion that the rejection of the novel by the public broke Fitzgerald. Confidence in one’s own talent has disappeared, health is deteriorating. By the age of 30, he suffers from alcoholism. And in 1940 he will die. He was only 44 years old, he would never know that his novel would be included in the top 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

Meaning of the title of The Great Gatsby

The author changed the title of his novel many times. Some options are terrible, like “Gatsby the Golden Hat” or “Frantic Lover”. But the fixed name causes bewilderment – why “great”?

The hero can be called an outstanding person, but the author treats his goal with frank irony (to get rich and thereby return love). The story of Gatsby is a story of collapse. Most likely, his ability to reckless and selfless love makes him “great”.

Problems of the book “The Great Gatsby”

The novel raises the writer’s favorite topic – the impact of property and social inequality on the fate and feelings of people. Fitzgerald experienced this first hand. His mother belonged to a wealthy family. Therefore, her marriage to a bankrupt entrepreneur was condemned by all relatives. The young family was provided for, Fitzgerald even studied at Princeton, and education at Ivy League universities is not cheap. But he always remembered (and he was made to understand by others) that the well-being of their family depended on the mercy of wealthy relatives.

Another theme is the replacement of life with illusions. Gatsby seems to create an alternative version of himself – a rich heir, traveled a lot and “led the life of a raja.” Even worse, it replaces real people with ideal constructs. He does not wish to see Daisy not against dating him but being married to Tom. But in their midst this is clearly a common thing, so Tom does not hesitate to make mistresses, but he is not going to let his wife go, and Myrtle is cheating on her husband, but is terribly offended when he suspects her of infidelity.

In addition, it is surprising how blind the hero is to people close to him. He does not understand how much Nick values ​​\u200b\u200bit his friendship, for him he is just a friend to whom he can pour out his soul. We learn that he had a father only at his funeral. But the father obviously adored his son. The “fixation” of the hero on Daisy and wealth closes the rest of the world from him.

Moral of The Great Gatsby

A dream is both beautiful and dangerous. This is a great motivator, but only if it has anything to do with reality. As long as the embodiment of Gatsby’s desires feigned genuine things, he could still get it (wealth, another name, origin, fame). But when the hero needed Daisy-his-dreams, all his illusions are shattered. You can’t build your life on illusory ideas, this is no longer a dream, but complete stupidity.

Explanation of the ending of The Great Gatsby

The entire ending of the book is essentially the murder of Gatsby. Daisy kills him after refusing to confirm that he is her only love. He is killed by Tom, practically setting the killer on him. He is shot by an unfortunate, eternally deceived auto mechanic. And, finally, Gatsby is ruined by the era itself. As Nick says bitterly in the finale about a person and about “the ability to admire inherent in him.” But modernity is not able to offer people something worthy of admiration. So we have to “sail forward, fighting the current, and it blows everything and blows our boats back.”

I hope I have helped you find the meaning of The Great Gatsby, as well as understand its ending. If you have a different vision of the book – write your own version in the comments.

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