Great Gatsby, The
GREAT GATSBY, THE,
GREAT GATSBY, THE, a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald that, over the several decades after its publication in 1925, came to be regarded as one of the most elegant, efficient, and profound pieces of fiction ever written in the United States. The Great Gatsby is a concentrated meditation on "the American dream," understood as the faith that anyone, even of the most humble origins, can attain wealth and social standing in the United States through talent and individual initiative. Fitzgerald explores the compelling appeal of this dream, and the circumstances that render it as deceptive as it is enduring.
Fitzgerald's protagonist is a young man from North Dakota, James Gatz, who changes his name to Jay Gatsby and manufactures a persona "out of his own Platonic self-conception." While in his soldier's uniform just prior to service in World War I, Gatsby falls in love with Daisy, a beautiful, rich young woman whose voice has "the sound of money." After the war, Gatsby pursues Daisy, even though she has by then married a gruff and tasteless man of her own class. Gatsby buys a huge, garish mansion on Long Island near Daisy's home and tries to impress her and her social set with lavish parties financed, as some of his guests rightly suspect, by the illegal sale of alcoholic beverages. But Daisy rejects Gatsby's suit, as her feelings and behavior are controlled by the conventions of her class in ways that the innocent "American dreamer" does not understand. In the end, it is inherited wealth and social standing that determine much more of one's destiny than is determined by talent and individual initiative, readers of The Great Gatsby are led to conclude.
Much of the power of The Great Gatsby derives from Fitzgerald's having provided readers with an opportunity to simultaneously see through the pretender's illusions and identify deeply with his aspirations and even love him for having made the effort. Gatsby himself "turned out all right in the end," Fitzgerald's narrator insists. The problem was "the foul dust that floated in the wake of Gatsby's dreams," meaning the particulars of American history, the class structure, and all the webs of social circumstance in which an individual's capacities for hope are embedded. The generic human impulses that drive us to better ourselves often impel us to foolish pursuits, and to ignore the conditions under which our striving actually takes place—but those impulses themselves are to be treasured.
See alsoJazz Age .
"Great Gatsby, The." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 23, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/great-gatsby
"Great Gatsby, The." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved May 23, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/great-gatsby
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.