Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears…
If you recognize that line, you’re likely a fellow literary enthusiast with a penchant for classics, like me. Maybe Shakespeare is your forte, or maybe you go even further back. Maybe you’re a Homer or Socrates fanatic; maybe you get your kicks out of allusions to the Old Testament. Around here, we’ll mostly be discussing works from the 1800s and later, but even if you’re not interested in the more modern literature of Jane Austen and C.S. Lewis, it doesn’t mean you won’t find something to bewitch your mind and ensnare your senses (Harry Potter, anyone?).
So without further ado, our first topic and my favorite book of all time, forever unparalleled, the epitome of literary greatness, so much so that it’s included in the title: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
As those who’ve taken any variety of Honors English course in high school already know, Gatsby is a story of love, loneliness, and the Lost Generation of the 1920s. Fitzgerald himself was a prominent member of the society that he writes about, so his descriptions and imagery of the era are authentic to a tee. But it’s not just the rich language and profound historical accuracy that have impressed English majors for decades; it’s the quintessential star-crossed romance, the themes of the American Dream and social classes that really distinguish it from others of its kind.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with the plot, here’s a simple summary (spoilers ahead!): young lovers Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan begin a relationship before Gatsby leaves her to fight in World War I. When he returns to go to school, he discovers that his beloved Daisy has found her way into the arms of a richer man. Gatsby then devotes himself to becoming the ideal candidate for her love so he can win her back. Unfortunately for Gatsby, it isn’t that easy.
Through a series of misunderstandings, Daisy’s husband’s mistress’s husband (got that?) blames Gatsby for the death of his wife, which was actually Daisy’s fault. But hell hath no fury like a crazy guy scorned, and he tracks Gatsby down and kills him before committing suicide himself. Très tragique, n’est-ce pas?
The book ends with Daisy and her hubby relocating out of town, far from any scandal or closet skeletons that could potentially plague their lives, and with the narrator attending Gatsby’s funeral. It’s a bleak finale to a heartbreaker of a tale, and the overarching moral of Gatsby’s fate is this: don’t try, because you’ll inevitably fail. Throwing parties every weekend doesn’t mean that you’re going to have the guests you want, and wooing another man’s woman will get you shot in the chest by a lunatic while you’re trying to relax in your pool.
Which brings me to the question you are surely asking yourself by now. Having read my synopsis of Gatsby and my analysis of its message, you must be wondering, what kind of person dedicates herself to a blog of all things when nothing matters in the long run? Why bother when attempting to do anything is pointless and shooting for the stars just burns you up in the atmosphere?
The thing is, I don’t agree with Fitzgerald’s philosophy. Dude was a raging alcoholic with a schizophrenic wife. He had a ton of issues that I can’t even begin to comprehend, and as a result I have to assume that his viewpoint on the meaning of life was a little skewed. I am a girl of great ambition, and I don’t see that changing any time in the near future.
So let’s embark on this literary adventure together. Because, unlike Fitzgerald, I have lots of optimism, lots of aspirations, and (I hope) lots of people interested in what I’m doing.
On a related final note, here’s our question(s) of the day: Do you see yourself in Gatsby? How so? Would you change that part of yourself if you could? Leave your answer in the comments, and in the meantime, sleep tight, ya morons. (Brownie points if you can figure out that one. Okay, bye for real.)