Recently I read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald for the second time; as expected, a multitude of thoughts ensued.
When I First Read
I first read this classic American novel as assigned reading for my American Literature class when I was a junior in high school. As you can tell by my glowing review, I absolutely loved it!
My English teacher junior year focused mostly on a few obvious themes in a the novel; as a result, I remember interpreting symbols such as colors and the green light as representing the “American Dream.” In fact, the majority of what we discussed as a class revolved around this patriotic fantasy. I also remember being enchanted by Fitzgerald’s beautiful writing and copying down countless quotes for future reference. My overall impression of The Great Gatsby was that it’s a stunning novel brimming with symbolism and layered meanings, providing plenty of thought-provoking fuel despite its short length.
Why I Wanted to Reread
I was actually assigned to read The Great Gatsby in my Cultural Diversity in American Literature class this past semester. Although this was technically a “forced” reread, I’ve been looking forward to visiting the novel again basically since I first finished reading it. An obvious reason for wanting to reread this book is that I simply wanted to experience the fantastic story for a second time. However, I also wanted to see how my opinions and perceptions of this novel would change in light of my development of a more critical reading lens. Would I pick up on different symbols or themes? How would I feel about the rather unlikable characters? Theses and many other questions were my primary motivation for wanting to reread this novel, and I probably would have reread it soon even if I hadn’t been assigned to read it for class.
Honestly, I love this novel even more now that I’ve read it twice.
Rereading it with my class was such a positive experience because we had in-depth discussions about many themes, symbols, and elements that I had never paid much attention to before. For instance, we talked about the huge significance of houses and imitation for Gatsby and the Buchanans. As a teenager, Gatsby is enthralled by Daisy’s grandiose house arguably more than he is with Daisy herself. Daisy’s house is a sign of her exorbitant lifestyle, the socioeconomic status which Gatsby resolutely endeavors to obtain. His mansion on East Egg becomes an imitation of that lifestyle, a fictitious embodiment of the Old World prestige Gatsby attempts to exude. It seems as though nearly every aspect of this story can be interpreted in myriad ways, demonstrating yet again why it is such a masterpiece of work.
Again, Fitzgerald’s elegant, florid, and superb writing style never fails to captivate me. He describes mere ordinary objects and elements of daily life in ways that make them burst forth from the monotonous background to center stage. The personification of Gatsby’s smile, the emphasis on Daisy’s “golden” voice, and the manner by which the city seems to take on a life of its own are just a few examples, but the story is brimming with countless others. Fitzgerald’s writing is packed with so much depth and meaning that at times it feels as though he has managed to fit a much longer story in the narrow breadth of this slim novel.
Even though this was my second time rereading The Great Gatsby, I’m still unable to fully comprehend the ambiguous, enigmatic Nick Carraway. I’m not sure if it’s possible to understand every facet of this character; certainly, I doubt if I’ll ever be able to do so to the extent that I would like. What are the details of his past? What is actual scope of his friendship with Gatsby? And what about that brief but jarring scene involving Nick and Mr. McKee? These and so many more questions surround my limited understanding of Nick, though the answers remain little more than conjecture on my part.
I have so many thoughts about The Great Gatsby that I cannot possibly sum them all up here. I’m sure I’ll end up writing more about this brilliant novel in the future, but for now I’ll leave it there.
Would I Reread Again?
Honestly, I don’t think I’ll be able to stop rereading this book. Even though years may pass in between each visit, I simply cannot foresee myself choosing not to delve into the world of the Eggs again and again and again.
My Previous Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) :0) 5 out of 5 smileys
My Current Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) :0) 5 out of 5 smileys (Not surprising in the slightest)
Needless to say, I LOVE this novel. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. Please, READ IT. ❤
What are your thoughts on The Great Gatsby? Do you enjoy rereading books? Would you recommend any of Fitzgerald’s other works? (I haven’t read any, if you can believe it.) Let me know in the comments section below!
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