Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Final Reflections on Gatsby

The preface to my edition of The Great Gatsby asserts the following:

"The Great Gatsby does not proclaim the nobility of the human spirit; it is not politicaly correct; it does not reveal how to solve the problems of life; it delivers no fashionable or comforting messages. It is just a masterpiece."

To what exent to you agree/disagree with this quotation? Feel free to comment on one small piece or on the overall sentiment of the passage. Enjoy!

31 comments:

Brynn Holstein said...

The quotation precisely sums up The Great Gatsby. I feel that Fitzgerald continually point out the faults of humans, and how ultimately we lead ourselves to our own destruction. An interesting part of the book it that it is not politically correct. The reader never sees what absurd thing is going to happen next. However, the all too scary thing is that the events that take place are likely to happen in a society that isn’t fictional. I believe that is what makes it a modern masterpiece.

Hannah S said...

I agree wtih this quote. The Great Gatsby really does not proclaim the nobility of the spirit; in fact, it shows how unnoble and selfish our spirits really are. The book does not waste time trying to making everything policitacally correct; it just states things as they are. It only shows the problems of life, but they are not solved within the book. The book shows how not to solve them. The book is so full of twists and turns. They are never the turns that you want them to be, and they are never the turns that make the book have a comforting ending. But the book is a masterpiece. It is beautifully crafted and carries a realistic story that mirrors human life exactly.

erinl said...

I agree with Brynn on this, that quote does sum up The Great Gatsby. It tells the story of society at the time it was written. I think that it is a very modern book, in that it tells the truth of people and looks at the faults of people in the world. I think that Fitzgerald sends the message that people no matter in what class must come up with their own morals to live by. I agree that it is a masterpiece, it is a book that people today can relate to.

Lara McDougald said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lara McDougald said...

I agree with this quote. After first finishing The Great Gatsby I thought, “What’s with the title? Gatsby is murdered. How can he be so great?” I think this novel wasn’t supposed to be an inspirational feel-good love story. It exposed the damaging habits of the 1920’s (drinking, mafia, and parties to name a few). I think Gatsby wanted the people of their time to evaluate their actions and rediscover their morals. The most important theme I picked out of the book was, “You can fool me, but you can’t fool God (160)”. Fitzgerald emphasizes the consequences of one’s actions in his book. I think that the characteristics that the quote mentioned makes The Great Gatsby a modernism novel. Although it was written with events directly from the 1920s, I think that it sends a different message to all its readers.

jberry said...

"It was just a masterpiece" really struck me. I think that this quote is explains the message of Gatsby well. The book merely engages the reader in a loveable story. It states the evil and the good in each character. It states the events and actions of the plot; however, it does not expand. It initiates our own theories and makes us really contemplate not only the character's lives, but our own.

I loved this book and can relate to it in many ways. It's interesting that those who lived years before us could still be entangled in situations and emotions that we are today.

christas said...

I agree with almost everything that has been said so far, but I don’t think that "The Great Gatsby" really criticizes the human spirit. Fitzgerald does show how humans manipulate each other and how twisted human love can be, but at the end of the book, Fitzgerald seems to be admiring the hopeful and determined spirit of humanity. He says, “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch our arms farther…And one fine morning—So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” (189). I think that Fitzgerald believed that all people will have the same fate (death), but he admired the human tendency to endure despite the fact that our existence is fragile and seemingly futile at times. I think that this is why the title of the novel is "The Great Gatsby"; Gatsby represents resilience in the face of certain defeat.

Kristen said...

In real life, answers are not straight forward and the character of humans is often questionable. In no way, shape or form does life flat out tell us how to make a happy ending. Quite honestly, there usually is never an ending that would fit nicely inside a novel. I believe this is why The Great Gatsby is such a masterpiece. It does not create a fictional setting. This is possibly the first book I have read this year where I could actually imagine this situation occurring in actuality. The beauty of Gatsby is that it does not even try to make some statement about humans in general. Just as in life, we need to read between the lines to find out what is going on. It cuts out the fluffy themes and characters and gives a clear depiction of the situation. We, as readers, are left to figure out the rest.

Kristen said...

P.S. Leclaire spelled "politically" wrong.

Dev said...

I agree with part of this quote because The Great Gatsby, if anything is a bad example of how to act. With all the parties, and recklessness it kind of reminded me of our society today. Gatsby, although he was involved with the mafia and did illegal activities, he showed the reader how money can only satisfy a part of your heart. To really be happy and live a fulfilling life you must have love, it cannot be all about money or all about possessions. I disagree with, “it delivers no fashionable or comforting message.” I believe it delivers a message that people, most of the time do not what to hear, making it uncomfortable. Although this society is fantasy, is it really that different from our world today? I totally agree with jberry because The Great Gatsby makes you contemplate about the lives we live and the world we live in.

[Collin L] said...

I completely agree with the quote. I feel that although the novel was not trying to give advice in any large form, and it did not give tips on how to live your own life better, it was still "just a masterpiece". It was very well written, I think that at times the plot of the book got kind of boring, but over all it was truly a masterpiece. Fitz really knows how to use words to get his feelings across.

saram said...

I think this quote perfectly sums up Gatsby. The Great Gatsby is a story that anyone can relate to. It's a straight forward plot without all the 'fluff' often found in novels. It's not trying to prove a point or teach us a lesson. It's simply entertainment. One of the most important aspects of entertainment is its audience's ability to relate to what's going on, which Gatsby perfectly captures.

Rachel L said...

I agree with the quotation. But at the same time, I don't think it was Fitzgerald's point to make it a "happy" or "problem-solving" book. It was meant to expose the skeletons in the closet of the lives of those that look well off. And not just those who are well off. I think the beauty behind the book is that everyone can relate to something that happened in the plot at one point, or the general dissatisfaction throughout the novel.

juliab said...

I agree with most of the preface, except for the last sentence.

While I did find that The Great Gatsby was not politically correct, fashionable, comforting, or proclaiming, I did not think it was a masterpiece when compared to other literary "masterpieces", such as novels by Dickens and Twain. I found that Fitzgerald's characters were not ground-breaking, and were often stereotypical. For me to consider The Great Gatsby to be a masterpiece, it would have to widened its scope of American society, and bring change as a result of its publication. Even though The Great Gatsby was something unusual during its age, it hardly changed society, and just gave people an insight into the wasteful lives of the rich and love-struck.

tanal said...

This preface on The Great Gatsby is correct in the sense that this novel is most certainly a masterpiece and Fitzgerald did a great job with it but I completely agree with the quote. I think that The Great Gatsby was a novel written to tear humans apart almost and expose all of their faults and flaws. I think that this story revealed many problems and pointed out all the wrong things to do, but it did not provide and lessons on life or provide a good influence on the readers.

emilya said...

I like the way this quote sums up Gatsby. I agree with most of it! The parts I thought were interesting were...

"It does not reveal how to solve the problems of life." -This book simply shows problems in life, but there are no solutions to them. All the people end up unhappy or dead without their problems solved.

"It delivers no fashionable or comforting messages." -I thought all the messages it sent were disturbing and unhopeful. The book was written in a pessimistic way I also thought. There are no good messages that are brought up.

"It is just a masterpiece." -I did not quite think Gatsby was such a masterpiece. It was a good enough book, yet it was not one I would read over and over again. I would not call it a masterpiece and I don't quite understand what gets everyone about it?

sweta said...

I agree with his quotation to an extent. It is true that The Great Gatsby was not written to teach a lesson; it was not written to criticize human ways or to provide the epiphany about life. The Great Gatsby is a novel about a simple man with a big dream. When a reader follows the heart of the novel, he finds that Gatsby is not different that the rest of us. When you think about it, there is a Gatsby within all of us. And because we dream so big, we get so far in life. I do not agree how the quote say, "it delivers no fashionable or comforting message." because in my opinion, the book is full of messages to the one who has the ability to comprehend them. The main message that The Great Gatsby divulges is the universal question in life: how to you know when to give and and how do you know how to try harder?
I really liked this book and i do believe it is a masterpiece. Even though the story line is a little cliche, the way Fitzgerald expresses himself through his writing is genuinely beautiful.

jessie w said...

Well, I would love to say that I disagree to change up the opinion here, but I also agree with the quote. It simply doesn't solve anything, and it's quite sad if you really sit down and think about it. Somehow, that produces something for people to connect with and be comforted with. I think this is the case because Gatsby is similar to real life in that it doesn't have all the answers to life's questions and such. I do however, disagree with the word choice of "just" That makes it sound as if it is unimportant as it's put next to the word masterpiece. It truly is a masterpiece which shouldn't be belittled. Of course, not all people might think of it as a masterpiece...I am rambling. I'm sorry. I think I'll stop now.

Tina L said...

I love the last sentence: "It is just a masterpiece."
As you might know, I have this thing that I do where sometimes I think authors never really intended their books to go through such intense scrutiny as english classes will put them through.
Yet I still think there is a reason the masterpieces are masterpieces. There is something in the Great Gatsby that speaks the truth. It's not politically correct, Fitzgerald's not sugar-coating anything. So when people pick up this book and read it, there is something about the way it's written that makes them say, wow. F. Scott, you are right on.

Do you like how many times I said things like thing and something and sometimes...DO YOU???

maria k said...

I agree with this quote and think that the beginning of the book was a great place to put it. Often, great works of literature are over-analyized and I feel as if this quote was placed there to conserve the beauty of Fitzgerald's "masterpiece."

I agree with Lara and Jess that this book was written to engage the reader and to open their eyes to the truths of the 1920s. It was more of a way Fitzgerald choose to express himself rather than something where he was trying to teach us something.

Laine G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laine G said...

Hi.
This passage fits so well with the message of the book. What I though was the message was that dreamers in a modern world will never survive. Most books dream by attempting to say it is politically correct, tells how to solve life's problems, and proclaims the nobility of the human spirit. Gatsby is a very realistic book that tells the truth and lays out the facts of him life is. This factor is what makes it a masterpiece. It is carefully written and displays the truth of life, this is rare among books, therefore it is a master piece.


Also, I found this whole book to be really entertaining while surprisingly literary at the same time. I've never watched a full episode of either, but this book seems to me like it is a mix of a soap opera and Desperate Housewives, from before either of those came out. This plot line is that of a love triangle, with 5 sides, with an equally geometrically perplexing 5 sided hate triangle in the middle of that. The only out of place relationship is Nick and Jordan, they are just a random little relationship on the side of the plot line. They really serve no purpose except to show that Nick isn't a total loner/fifth wheel.

To simplify 189 pages into a picture I made this diagram. Each letter stands for the First letter of the person's first name. Click on my name and the chart is my blog's picture.

maddyg said...

I feel that this quote is pretty accurate at least with its statement that "It is just a masterpiece." Things happen in this book for no apparent reason, but they are just so incredible that you wonder how someone could have ever written them. I agree with the quote that Fitzgerald was not trying to show something hugely profound, but more to unmask his society and their lifestyle. He shows the emptiness that he sees in them and probably feels in himself. The Great Gatsby is like a critique of this 1920s rebellion and Fitzgerald is trying to explain that it is rebellion without a cause. The way he wrote these words is plainly brilliant.

lauraf said...

I both agree and disagree with different parts of this analysis of The Great Gatsby. The first comment about the nobility of the human spirit can be true and not depending on what aspect is looked at. The way Gatsby pursues Daisy throughout his entire life I would consider an example of nobility in the human spirit because he acts in certain ways because of his love for her. However, his ultimate destruction is also because of his denial of losing Daisy. Although the book ends in the death and just absence of the main characters, the novel depicts how to solve problems through the characters inability to deal with their situations. Although it does not directly explain a detailed way to solve life, it portrays ways not to live, for example, depending on money and possessions is never completely fulfilling and satisfying.

Annika_EP said...

I strongly agree with this statement. This book doesn't end in a positive way, or the way we would expect it to. The people aren't perfect and don't always make the right decisions. It simply shows the nature of humans, in a beautiful way. This book is still thought provoking, and that is just it. It isn't really forward about it's brilliance, rather it just IS brilliant.

*AlexxM_* said...

Seeing now that I'm not the only one not to post before 8 this morning, I might as well do it now.

"It i just a masterpeice."

Correctly said. It's not really about anything in particular, and yet it captures more than most any other single book. Every sentence was obviously meticulously edited, and Fitzgerald was quoted as calling it his masterpiece.

shaunam said...

I think that the quote truly sums up what Gatsby is all about. Though the book can become frustrating at times when the "good guy" eventually loses, it is real life and portrays that life is never always fair. The quote sums up the novel so well because it does not try to sugar-coat the story. It is truly a masterpiece in the way that Fitzgerald is portraying real, twisted, awkward, tense life.

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JoshB901 said...

I agree with this quote because The Great Gatsby is a masterpiece but only reveals human faults. The Great Gatsby does not emphasis any human strengths, Fitzgerald rather relies on human faults to engage the reader. Also, I don't think that The Great Gatsby is politically correct because the novel seems to overplay and stress all the negatives and social "blunders" that people made in the past.

carr_ley_ben_son said...

I belive this quotation is a more then accurate sum up of this novel. Though i would disagree to say the Great Gatsby does serve a purpose other then being simply a 'masterpiece' The great Gatsby seems to me, to be a warning, a commentary on a humans ablity to fool themselves into beliveing in perfection, when there is no such existance.

endsleye said...

I agree with brynn and erin on this quote. I believe that it does sum up The Great Gatsby. I believe The Great Gatsby is a modern masterpiece because it portrays the truth in society. The whole truth, even the faults in human behavior and society. There is no sugar coating on any of it. It is reality falt out. Fitzgerald points out several important aspects of human behavior. He shows how humans are full of faults and we can lead our self to destruction. But he also shows how it is important for us to come up with our own morals and ways for life to live by. I think that people can relate to this book today and in short, it is a masterpiece.