A Book Report on The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby I read, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the well-known American writer, was published by Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press in 2004, with 225 pages.
The book is a novel. It is a story told by Nick about a man named Gatsby. The author gives the reader a vivid love story with a tragic end. The story can be interpreted many ways. The fall of the American dream is one major theme.
Here are the top four characters. Gatsby, the protagonist, has an obsessive love with Daisy. He struggles for her attention, for her joyance, and most importantly, for her herself. It turns out what he struggles for is only an allusion, a shadow, and a dream, just out reach of his hand. He pays “a high price for living too long with a single dream” (Fitzgerald, 200). Special attention should be paid to Nick, the narrator. He is “one of the few honest people” that we ever known in the novel (Fitzgerald, 70). Therefore, we can, first of all, trust his narration. As Daisy’s cousin and Gatsby’s neighbour, he then exists as a connection of the two. Another function he plays is that being an observer, he can evaluate and criticize our protagonist objectively. Daisy and Tom make a perfect couple. Daisy, though born a beauty, is sensual and “her voice is full of money” (Fitzgerald, 152). Then Tom, both physically and spiritually, is vulgar. Tom and Daisy lead a luxurious and profligate life.
The following is the plot of the novel. Gatsby and Daisy loved each other. However, Gatsby was too poor to marry Daisy. He went to war in Europe. When he came back he found Daisy had married Tom. He earned substantive money illegally, and came to New York City, and bought a house, and held parties, which were luxurious out of imagination, in order to draw Daisy’s attention. Finally he knew Nick, his neighbour, was Daisy’s cousin, and came to him for help. Under Nick’s arrangement, Gatsby met Daisy five years after they parted. After Tom had learned that there was something between Gatsby and Daisy, he attacked Gatsby that the latter did drugstore business in the face of Daisy and Nick, and asked Daisy back to his arms. Later, Daisy, driving, killed Myrtle, Tom’s lover by accident. However, Tom told her husband, Wilson, that it was Gatsby who was Myrtle’s lover and killed her. Consequently Wilson shot Gatsby to death and took his own life as well. After Gatsby’s depressing funeral, Nick decided to go back to the Middle West. After all, Gatsby, Daisy, Tom and he himself were all from the Middle West.
When The Great Gatsby was published, T. S. Eliot praised it was the first step of American novel had token since Henry James. I like this novel, which is not hard to understand but not easy to appreciate. First, it is a novel about dreams. Young men, maybe young women as well, without fortune and outlook may lack everything but dreams. Yet how their dreams will turn out to be is completely another thing. We notice in Chapter 9, Gatsby’s SCHEDULE, which is marvelously similar to Benjamin Franklin’s schedule, and then we are reminded of the American dream. That is a dream, as James Truslow Adams has remarked, “of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” (“What is the American Dream”
Besides the decline of the American Dream, another theme of the novel, in my opinion, is that there exists no true love in a world where ruthless materialism prevails. Notwithstanding “the love Gatsby has for Daisy seems to be the only pure impulse in a corrupt world” (Lehan), his love has no opportunity to flourish. Daisy finally chooses to follow Tom, and they escape, “and let other people clean up the mess they had made” (Fitzgerald, 222). About love, Fitzgerald says through one of his characters, “There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired” (Fitzgerald, 95). The love between Nick and Baker, if it exists, can support this point as well.
In terms of craftsmanship in American literature, The Great Gatsby can be said one of the most consummate. It is a work making good use of symbolism. First, the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock represents Gatsby’s hope and dream for the future. It is yet only an illusory dream which he will never reach. It is not more real than the stars in the sky. Second, the Valley of Ashes symbolizes “the moral and social decay that results from the uninhibited pursuit of wealth” (
Then the language of The Great Gatsby deserves to be mentioned. The language is elegant and graceful, and sometimes it could be compared to a poem’s language. In one of Gatsby’s grand parties, “people disappeared, reappeared, made plans to go somewhere, and then lost each other, searched for each other, found each other a few feet away”(Fitzgerald, 44). Then when Daisy was singing with the music in a husky, rhythmic whisper, she brings out “a meaning in each word that it had never had before and would never have again” (Fitzgerald, 135). Then Gatsby “stretched out his hand desperately as if to snatch only a wisp of air …” (Fitzgerald, 191). More examples shall not be quoted. The description of views of the evening and moonlight should be specially noticed.
In relation to our life, how shall we do with our personal dreams? Man, as he grows, becomes realistic. This process is like when we put a piece of paper into a glass of water, the paper is gradually soaked and suddenly falls into the bottom. Then it is like an artichoke flower, peels off one petal after another, and finally withers. However, without dreams, what can man hold? The Pandora’s Box opened; everything flew out, leaving only hope at the bottom. Hope, thence, stays forever for the despairing people, even when they have nothing else.
Finally, the fiction urges me to think about what kind of life we are willing to have? All the four principle characters are from the Middle West and come to live in the East. Many in China come from the countryside and pursue the urban life. Nick never feels he is a part of the East, and if Gatsby has felt, he would not be dead. The relation between countryside and urban life deserves reconsidering, especially in the contemporary Chinese context.
It is my pleasure to recommend this novel to my friends. Another well-known American writer, who was contemporary with Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway’s words are of service, “Gatsby was a great book. I’ve read it twice in the last five years. It gets better with each reading” (Hemingway, Gregory). I would like to read it twice when time is available.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 2004.
Hemingway, Gregory. “Lessons.” English Essays 50. Ed. Tao Jie. Nanjing: Yilin Press,2002.354.
Lehan, Richard. “Focus on F. Scott. Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.” American Dreams, American Nightmares. Ed. David Madden. London and Amsterdam: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970.
< www.sparknotes.com /lit/gatsby/themes.html> 3 Dec. 2006.
“What is the American Dream” 3 Dec. 2006