Gatsby is, of course, both the novel’s title character and its protagonist. Gatsby is a mysterious, fantastically wealthy young man. Every Saturday, his garish Gothic mansion in West Egg serves as the site of extravagant parties. Later in the novel, we learn that his real name is James Gatz; he was born in North Dakota to an impoverished farming family. While serving in the Army in World War I, Gatsby met Daisy Fay (now Daisy Buchanan) and fell passionately in love with her. He worked briefly for a millionaire and became acquainted with the people and customs of high society. This, coupled with his love of Daisy, inspired Gatsby to devote his life to the acquisition of wealth.
Daisy is Nick’s cousin, Tom’s wife, and the woman that Gatsby loves. She had promised to wait for Jay Gatsby until the end of the war, but after meeting Tom Buchanan and comparing his extreme wealth to Gatsby’s poverty, she broke her promise. Daisy uses her frailty as an excuse for her extreme immaturity.
A brutal, hulking man, Tom Buchanan is a former Yale football player who, like Daisy, comes from an immensely wealthy Midwestern family. His racism and sexism are symptomatic of his deep insecurity about his elevated social position. Tom is a vicious bully, physically menacing both his wife and his mistress. He is a thoroughgoing hypocrite as well: though he condemns his wife for her infidelity, he has no qualms about carrying on an affair himself.
Daisy’s longtime friend, Jordan Baker is a professional golfer who cheated in order to win her first tournament. Jordan is extremely cynical, with a masculine, icy demeanor that Nick initially finds compelling. The two become briefly involved, but Jordan rejects him on the grounds that he is as corrupt and decadent as she is.
An earthy, vital, and voluptuous woman, Myrtle is desperate to improve her life. She shares a loveless marriage with George Wilson, a man who runs a shabby garage. She has been having a long-term affair with Tom Buchanan and is very jealous of his wife, Daisy. After a fight with her husband, she runs out into the street and is hit and killed by Gatsby’s car.
George B. Wilson
George is a listless, impoverished man whose only passion is his love for his wife, Myrtle. He is devastated by Myrtle’s affair with Tom. After her death, the magnitude of his grief drives Wilson to murder Jay Gatsby before committing suicide himself.
Understanding the Historical Context and Setting of the Novel
On the surface, perhaps you can add the point that Gatsby has pursuit his dream in the wrong way, thus he pursued his dream at the expense of others and at all cost, which finally turns out to consume his energy and life.
Also, there’s a “foul dust” in his dream, which symbolizes something not pure in his dream. May be is his wrong vision that he can change his origin and repeat the past.
Underlying that, i don’t think having hardly anyone at his funeral was a reflection on him but a reflection on those he was associated with, his Chicago and Philadelphia connections of organized crime were represented by Meyer Wolfsheim who said himself about being good friends with a man while he’s alive but the link breaks after he’s dead. those who went to Gatsby’s parties went for the entertainment and the luxury which Gatsby provided them with, he never joined them and his guests were always speculating about him anyhow showing they had no genuine appreciation for him. he was great in terms of being so focused on one particular person not even considering his dream may not come true and doing everything in order to reach that goal he makes his money for her in order to be worthy of her. one point this is shown is at his house when he shows her his shirts and she cries into them. compared to daisy and tom Gatsby is brave he’s come a long way but never lost sight of his original plan the other wealthy in the novel like daisy and tom have allowed themselves to be led by money or maybe they were always that way. he is humbling, lonely, and brave highlighting daisy and tom’s lack of these qualities. besides if Gatsby wasn’t great, Robert Redford was sure great playing him.
On one hand, one can argue that nothing about Gatsby was great. He lied to everyone about his past, he made his fortune illegally, he centered his entire life around a plan which basically involved breaking up someone’s marriage, he had almost no friends (witness the funeral scene with almost no one there), etc.
I also think this “great” is meant ironically, or sarcastically (…as in how was the picnic? “great, there were ants all over, we forgot the food and it rained. just great”)
This is only my opinion though, yeah the title was meant to be ironic, just like Gatsby’s name
- F. Scott Fitzgerald. 1999. The Great Gatsby.