The Great Gatsby

the-great-gatsbyI have very mixed emotions about the Great Gatsby. Gatsby, in my opinion, is a tragic hero. His dream was set up for failures. People and things change as time goes by, whether you like it or not. Like C.S. Lewis once said, “isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different?” I don’t think Gatsby would’ve agreed with this quote. Remember when he cried, “Can’t repeat the past?…Why of course you can!”?
As for Daisy, she didn’t intentionally want to hurt anyone, She’s a girl who didn’t know what she wanted and chose to live a safe and conventional life. Maybe she’s what she hoped her daughter would be, “a beautiful little fool”, but is it really “the best thing a girl can be in this world”?

“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

Having spent the last four years at Berkeley and soon working in the Financial District, it’s sometimes easy to forget how privileged I am. But when I take a step back and look at my life from outside of my daily bubble, I can’t help but think, yes the world isn’t fair, but I have no right to complain anyway cause I’ve pretty much lucked out!

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

I’m totally on board with the idea that life is too short to live in the past. But sometimes it’s inevitable to fall back into memories. Human beings continually change as every passing moment gets integrated into their lives and becomes a part of who they are. In a sense every moment is a defining moment. The deal with Gatsby is that he stopped moving forward while the world around him is.

“He hadn’t once ceased looking at Daisy, and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes. Sometimes, too, he stared around at his possessions in a dazed way, as though in her actual and astounding presence none of it was any longer real. Once he nearly toppled down a flight of stairs.”

I particularly like this quote because it depicts a man deeply in love as seen by an outsider. Gatsby is so into Daisy that his infatuation almost seems like madness. He had one and only one purpose in life for five years, and everything he’s done was to hold onto it relentlessly.

“No telephone message arrived, but the butler went without his sleep and waited for it until four o’clock – until long after there was any one to give it to if it came. I have an idea that Gatsby himself didn’t believe it would come, and perhaps he no longer cared. If that was true he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream.”

I see this as the final moment of Gatsby’s tragedy. His dream is being crashed into pieces in front of his eyes. Not only did he lose hope, he no longer even cared. Imagine not merely giving up your dream, but being so disheartened that you just don’t care anymore. Nobody deserves to feel that.

Contrary to popular criticism, I think the movie was a pretty good adaption of the book. It follows the plot closely and brings the still picture of a cautionary tale about American Dream to life. I like seeing the characters expressing their emotions individually instead of simply being depicted by Nick. Or maybe I just like Leo DiCaprio.

More of my favorite quotes:

“You see I usually find myself among strangers because I drift here and there trying to forget the sad things that happened to me.”

“I was within and without. Simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

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