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The Great Gatsby Guide


The Great Gatsby was first published in 1925. The novel would prove to be Fitzgerald's most accomplished novel, and was an immediate critical success. Despite the favorable reviews, the sales for the novel were disappointing.

Within the novel, Fitzgerald uses the character of Nick Carraway as the first-person narrator. It is through Carraway's eyes that we see the other characters and the world they live in. Carraway is the only character in the novel to exhibit, and hold onto, a sense of morals and decency throughout the novel. Symbolism is heavily used, and can be found in both the characters actions and the physical objects.

Through the novel, Fitzgerald puts across the idea that the American dream has been corrupted by the desire for materialism. We see that Gatsby had a pure dream, but became corrupt in his quest towards that dream.

Much has been made of Fitzerald's relation to his characters. Many of the characters in his novels are based on people from his life. Within the characters of Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby we can see the dueling parts of Fitzgerald's own personality. Gatsby and Fitzgerald are alike by both being self-made men who have achieved financial success. Similarly, they both achieved their financial success for the love of a woman. Gatsby felt that he needed wealth to win the hand of Daisy, and Fitzgerald felt the same about Zelda. The love of a woman was the motivating factor behind virtually all of Gatsby's actions, and many of the young Fitzgerald's. Fitzgerald would spend the majority of his career struggling to earn as much money as possible to maintain the privelaged lifestyle that Zelda desired.

Nick Carraway can be seen to represent the outsider that Fitzgerald felt himself to be. Both Fitzgerald and Carraway found themselves surrounded by high society and dishonest people. Neither of them truly fit in with those surroundings. One of the major themes within the novel is East vs. West. Carraway comes from the West, and returns to it by the novel's end. Through Carraway, Fitzgerald shows his fondness for the West, which he idealized as being a moral land. It is their dissatisfaction with their surroundings that Carraway and Fitzgerald share. It is because of such feelings, that they both feel like outsiders.

The purpose of this guide is to act as a companion to readers of the novel. Within the site you will find detailed chapter and character summaries, along with a brief biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald.