When discussing any work of literature, you will commonly hear people say that they thought the work was “good”, or they enjoyed it, without much more elaboration in terms of what they meant by those comments. With a more comprehensive literary analysis in mind, this paper will use as the focus F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”. First, the researcher will discuss what the claim of this work is and how this literature affects the world. Additionally, the researcher will write about how this piece of literature moved the researcher and how this literature is significant and important. This paper will also discuss the power of “The Great Gatsby” to influence lives, and lastly but perhaps most importantly, what good literature is, how these criteria relate to “Gatsby” and what makes “Gatsby” good literature as well as how “Gatsby” influenced the life of the researcher.
The Claim and Effect of “The Great Gatsby”
For F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Great Gatsby” was much more than a work of fiction or even a character study. The claim that Fitzgerald so skillfully put forth in the writing of his novel was multifaceted: first, the broad statement made by the novel is that money is not everything, as well as the assertion that all wealth and power are fleeting. Second, Fitzgerald made the claim that the path that one chooses in life is not set in stone to the point where there is no turning back but rather that there is always the opportunity for positive and meaningful change in the face of adversity. Third, not everyone and everything are as they appear, for when someone gets closer to what they covet most in the world, they may find that what they so aggressively sought may not be worth the price that was paid.
Looking back on “The Great Gatsby”, its effect is overwhelming, as it is in fact a combination of a high level of entertainment due to the vivid imagery and skillful characterization of Fitzgerald’s writing as well as a well constructed mortality tale set against a backdrop of greed, manipulation, longing and lust. Also, the overall effect of the work upon reading it is a great deal of self reflection and an examination of one’s own priorities, for at the heart of “Gatsby” is the realization that if the live of the individual is focused on material things, and money rather than people is the focus of one’s existence, the future will be most dark indeed.
How “Gatsby” Moved the Researcher and How it is Significant and Important
The researcher in fact chose “Gatsby” as the focus of this paper because of the fact that the novel moved the researcher in several important ways. First, as was discussed briefly in the previous section of the paper, upon finishing the reading of the work, the researcher was compelled to essentially reexamine his own priorities and try to organize those priorities in such a way that the focus of life shifted from the superficial and material things in life to those things which really bring a great deal of enrichment to life; in other words, the researcher realized that in the final analysis, the amount of money in one’s pocket or the number of cars in their garage was not nearly as important as the amount of love in their heart, and more importantly, the friends and other loved ones who would be around to share in that love. It would seem that anytime that things are put before people, like in the case of many of the characters in Fitzgerald’s “Gatsby”, the end result is a great deal of sadness and grief. Additionally, the researcher in fact held a fair amount of pity for Jay Gatsby, for once again, he was essentially a man whose whole life, or at least the life that he showed to his friends, lovers and acquaintances, was simply a façade, and once that façade cracked, he essentially was left with nothing and no one.
It would seem that in as much as “Gatsby” moved the researcher, it is significant and important in other ways as well. Fitzgerald in fact wrote the novel in an effort to simultaneously voice his own disgust with the loose morals, greed and corruption in the society in which he lived and to project a message to his contemporaries that they in fact were travelling down the wrong path if they focused merely on materialism rather than the limitless value of human relationships. In this way, Fitzgerald was able to entertain, fascinate and influence lives all ate the same time. With this in mind, the power of “The Great Gatsby” to influence lives will now be discussed.
The Power of “The Great Gatsby” to Influence Lives
On the surface, “Gatsby” has the power to influence lives because it is a novel which adds a great deal of delight to the lives of readers if for nothing else than as entertainment, evidenced by the fact that nearly a century after it was written, it is still a bestselling work, and of course, people are still talking about it to this very day. However, the work is worthy of much more consideration as a life-influencing piece of literature. Surely, just as it did for the researcher, “Gatsby” has compelled many people over the generations to re-focus on what is important in their lives, rather than what others think is important, or those things which will lead to a downfall if worshipped as important- money, superficial lust, greed and the like.
A Discussion of Good Literature
While “Gatsby” could surely stand on its own in the annals of literature for what it contributes to the ongoing commentary of the human condition and the priorities one should have in life, it also deserves additional discussion in terms of why it qualifies as good literature, and generally, what qualifies as good literature.
First, a few words on the latter. Good literature is that which not only captivates the continued interest of the reader, but also compels the reader to think, and will eventually leave the reader in a much better state of mind or place of living than they were before they read the work. Certainly, “Gatsby” qualifies on both counts, as attested to by the researcher’s own experience. Regarding what makes “Gatsby” good literature, it has been able to defy the passage of time, and still be entertaining, life-changing and relevant today as it was when it was written many decades ago. This truly is the personification of good literature.
This research has woven the experiences of one researcher, and those of countless others, to show how “The Great Gatsby” qualifies as good literature and holds the potential to change lives-something that lesser works have failed miserably in trying to do. Therefore, in conclusion, let it be understood that in writing “Gatsby”, Fitzgerald not only changed American literature, but changed lives as well.
Fitzgerald, FS (1925). The Great Gatsby. New York: Simon & Schuster.