Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Review: The Great Gastby

I did this book review a little while back for my portfolio and decided to share it on here with you guys! I loved writing it and my tutor gave me quite a high mark for it, so I'm pretty proud of it :) Enjoy and let me know what you think of it!

The Great Gatsby Book Review

1920s style dresses, lavish parties and jazz music floating through the heavily perfumed air all embody The Great Gatsby age. F Scott Fitzgerald illuminates the scene with intricate meanings and symbols of the declining but dazzling era.

Moving to New York in the ‘roaring twenties’, Nick Carraway’s future is bright. With his cousin, Daisy, entering his life in a graceful manner and his mysterious, yet charming neighbour, Jay Gatsby, throwing extravagant parties; Nick is soon in too deep. A ménage a trios and death then begin to unravel Gatsby’s perfect plans.     

Although Fitzgerald’s theme of hope is portrayed through Gatsby’s unwavering love for Daisy, the chilling conclusion highlights the prejudice in romance. Written and narrated from Carraway’s perspective, his first impression of the illusionist Gatsby is “having one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance” giving the reader an insight into the elusive party host.

One thing that sets this book apart from others is the elaborate detail and metaphorical symbolism Fitzgerald uses to weave together a message of hardship in the era. Contrasting the railway slums to West Egg’s beautiful mansions set across the river, represents the divide between the wealthy and the working class. An issue even to this day. The green light presents Gatsby’s goal, shining prominent and constant, yet still at an unreachable distance across the river. Another obvious motif Fitzgerald continuously returns to is the watching eyes of Doctor E J Eckleburg, a forgotten advertisement, epitomising the forgotten characters and their dreams. Arguably the most important symbol from the novel, the author places the advertising billboard over the valley of ashes. Thus representing God staring down and judging the sinful American society.

The exaggerated and contrasting personalities of the protagonists make The Great Gatsby an unrealistic escapism for readers. Daisy’s shallow and sardonic actions portray her as an undesirable character, but Gatsby’s determination and obvious hope for her love enhances her beauty. Fitzgerald purposefully delays the introduction of Gatsby, in order to build up his theatrical persona and aloof traits. The lead character also presents an astonishing talent for turning his dreams into reality and the reassurance of them, even if they do fall short of his expectations in the end. The quiet Carraway is described as the open minded and naïve friend that Gatsby can easily manipulate, even if his weakness is somewhat irritating at times. Despite this, Carraway is the ideal character to narrate as his observations and descriptions are sometimes alike to a child’s, creating an overstated atmosphere.

The iconic final quote “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” depicts the many feelings of hopelessness among Americans in the 1920s. As well as the inability to move forward in life, which Gatsby portrays in his untiring love for Daisy, she in turn cowardly refuses to continue her old love affair with him. Perhaps more importantly, Carraway’s last words emphasize the overarching metaphor for Gatsby’s struggles and the disappointment of the American Dream.

Fitzgerald’s fascinating yet poignant story of Gatsby immerses the reader into all the beauty and woes of the 1920s. Although, Gatsby’s end is not as extravagant as his gatherings, the lavish parties and jazz music still lives on.

Thanks for reading!
Rhiannon xx

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