The Great Gatsby at a Glance


F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel,The Great Gatsby, follows Jay Gatsby, a man who orders his life around one desire: to be reunited with Daisy Buchanan, the love he lost five years earlier. Gatsby's quest leads him from poverty to wealth, into the arms of his beloved, and eventually to death. Published in 1925, The Great Gatsby is a classic piece of American fiction. It is a novel of triumph and tragedy, noted for the remarkable way Fitzgerald captured a cross-section of American society.

Written by: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Type of Work: novel

Genres: social commentary; American fiction; Jazz Age

First Published: 1925

Setting: 1920s in West Egg, Long Island

Main Characters: Nick CarrawayJay GatsbyDaisy Buchanan

Major Thematic Topics: decline of the 1920s; social issues; prohibition; displaced spirituality

Motifs: weather; geography; types of money

Major Symbols: eyes; Gatsby's parties

Movie Versions: The Great Gatsby (1974); The Great Gatsby (2000)The Great Gatsby (2013)

The three most important aspects of The Great Gatsby:

  • Nick Carraway is the narrator, or storyteller, of The Great Gatsby, but he is not the story's protagonist, or main character. Instead, Jay Gatsby is the protagonist of the novel that bears his name. Tom Buchanan is the book's antagonist, opposing Gatsby's attempts to get what he wants: Tom's wife Daisy.
  • From the gold hat mentioned in the novel's epigram to the green light at the end of Daisy's dock, The Great Gatsby is filled with things that are gold and green: the colors of money.
  • There are two kinds of wealth in The Great Gatsby: the inherited wealth of Daisy and Tom Buchanan, and the newly acquired wealth of Gatsby. The first kind comes with social standing and protects the Buchanans from punishment, as Daisy literally gets away with murder. Gatsby's kind of wealth, though considerable, leaves its owner vulnerable.

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