The Great Gatsby as Great as the Title Goes? - Critical Essay Sample

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World literature knows many great texts, telling serious and humorous stories of the past, present, and even future. They all give the reader something to think about, they are deep and thought-provoking. It is impossible to enumerate them all, but there is one thing that is extremely important for a good piece of writing. It should not be simply good, it has to be the one, which suits the story. Moreover, as modern marketers would say, it must catch readers’ attention. There is no point in guessing whether all the great book titles are good enough, however, there is one that still provokes a great number of questions. This is The Great Gatsby by Francis Scott Fitzgerald.

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What Is the Setting of the Story of the Great Gatsby?

Without any doubt, The Great Gatsby is one of the most popular American novels ever. Telling the story of a self-made man, this novel is an embodiment of the famous American dream. However, everything is not as easy as it seems, and the events of the novel prove it. The Great Gatsby is told by a young man Nick Carraway, who settles down in a new place and meets his new neighbor Jay Gatsby. He seems to be a pleasant and welcoming man, who holds wonderful parties in his big house, however, there is something about him that embarrasses Nick there is some mystery lying behind. The story gets a new turn as Nick brings his cousin Daisy Buchanan, enchanting lady, wife, and mother, to Gatsby’s house. It turns out Gatsby used to be in love with her, but he was too poor to become a husband of a girl from the high layer of society, so he left and Daisy married another man. Nick starts understanding that all those things which Jay Gatsby has achieved in his life, he did to impress Daisy one day, and it works. The lady seems to be in love with him again. However, this story has a happy ending, as Gatsby is killed and fast-forgotten, and Daisy leaves the place with her husband and daughter not even coming to Jay’s funeral.

What Is the Significance of the Novel’s Title the Great Gatsby?

Taking into account Gatsby’s destiny, is the epithet great suitable for him? If you look at Gatsby in his best time, he is certainly a great one, the wealthiest people in New York, one of the most successful businessmen, he seems to have everything that a person may need and want: enormous house, luxurious parties, many admirers. This is how Nick saw the parties at Gatsby’s house at the beginning:

There was music from my neighbor's house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens, men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars. On weekends his Rolls-Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city between nine in the morning and long past midnight, while his station wagon scampered like a brisk yellow bug to meet all trains (Fitzgerald).

The Great Gatsby: Nick and Gatsby

Therefore, there are many people, young and beautiful, of high position in society, who are invited by Gatsby to his house. It proves his own status and means he has already achieved a lot in his life and now is using all of this to the fullest extent. Not even knowing what these parties actually looked like, Nick is already impressed, however, once he is invited to the party himself, he is able to see the greatness with his own eyes:

The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other's names (Fitzgerald).

This proves that the parties are not simply great, they are speaking luxury. Even more, Nick is impressed by the owner himself, not by his appearance or clothing, but by the smile. He smiled understandingly... It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life... It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey (Fitzgerald).

It is clear what impression a person with such a smile could produce on most people; he was the one, whom people like, even adore. Everyone near his place dreams about coming to his party, everyone wants to know whether this luxury is true or just a tale, told by those who have already visited his palace. However, not all people see him as great, those who used to be rich all their lives, so-called people of old money openly despise him.

Very soon Nick discovers the true reason of all these parties, of the wealth and Gatsby’s way of life it is Daisy, for whom he has been doing all these things: "But it wasn't a coincidence at all Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay" (Fitzgerald).

What Is the Main Message of the Great Gatsby?

Understanding this issue lets Nick see another side of Gatsby, probably the greatest one his ability to love, his generosity, his true friendship. This is what makes him special among the people, who only care about money for the sake of money. The fact that nobody came to Gatsby’s funeral after he had been shot near his own swimming pool only proves the values of the world of the wealthy: The minister glanced several times at his watch, so I took him aside and asked him to wait for half an hour. But it wasn't any use. Nobody came (Fitzgerald). Gatsby did not have a truly great life and his end was the most miserable one could imagine, but there was one thing that made him great: he was able to love and to do everything for his love. Not all the things he did were good or fair, but he did for the sake of love (or what he thought was love) to Daisy. This is what Nick tells about at the end of the novel:

“I couldn't forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confusing. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy 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 (Fitzgerald).”

Nick somehow compares Gatsby, who started from the bottom not to become the richest man ever but to win his love, and the Buchanan couple, who never cared about anybody else but themselves. The words about money emphasize what was of the real value for these people and why Gatsby is great, especially against such people.


Therefore, the word great in the title of the novel can convey different ideas and only F. Scott Fitzgerald himself was aware of why Gatsby was great. Readers and critics may only guess why the book is called in this way, but if to follow the idea of him being different from the society he lived in, the thought that he was different in a better way and this is why great, then the title becomes clear and explainable.

Works Cited

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2013. Print.

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