Some basic Gatsby information; Plot Summary, Chapter Summaries, Characters, Theme of the Great Gatsby. You know, the stuff that will help when you need to write a paper on the Great Gatsby.
Gatsby has a quintessentially "modern" setting and group of characters: Fitzgerald sets this novel in his own time and milieu of middle- and upper-middle-class white Americans. Fitzgerald pictured himself as the voice of his generation and wrote for a young audience--those people "about the same age" as the twentieth century itself. Gatsby is both a coming-of-age story and a record of social phenomena in the 1920s: drinking during Prohibition; the new place of automobiles in society; an entertainment world peopled by photographers, film directors and stars, and jazz bands; female professionals like Jordan Baker; and changing attitudes toward social institutions (i.e., marriage). In his observation of the manners around him, the novel's narrator, Nick Carraway, famously remarks that he is "within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life." This position has been ascribed to Fitzgerald as a writer ever since.
Why does Nick tell this story? According to him, he plays a minor role, and "the history of the summer really begins on the evening I drove over [to East Egg] to have dinner with the Tom Buchanans." Eventually, Nick forms a connection between the Buchanans' conservative social world in East Egg and that of his nouveau riche neighbor in West Egg, Jay Gatsby. Yet Nick pictures himself primarily as an observer, one who vows to set "the record" straight. He tells Gatsby's story since Gatsby, being dead, cannot speak for himself.
Characters in the Great Gatsby.
Nick Carraway - The novel’s narrator, Nick is a young man from Minnesota who, after being educated at Yale and fighting in World War I, goes to New York City to learn the bond business.
Jay Gatsby - The title character and protagonist of the novel, Gatsby is a fabulously wealthy young man living in a Gothic mansion in West Egg.
Daisy Buchanan - Nick’s cousin, and the woman Gatsby loves. As a young woman in Louisville before the war, Daisy was courted by a number of officers, including Gatsby. She fell in love with Gatsby and promised to wait for him. However, Daisy harbors a deep need to be loved, and when a wealthy, powerful young man named Tom Buchanan asked her to marry him, Daisy decided not to wait for Gatsby after all.
Tom Buchanan - Daisy’s immensely wealthy husband, once a member of Nick’s social club at Yale. Powerfully built and hailing from a socially solid old family, Tom is an arrogant, hypocritical bully. His social attitudes are laced with racism and sexism, and he never even considers trying to live up to the moral standard he demands from those around him.
Jordan Baker - Daisy’s friend, a woman with whom Nick becomes romantically involved during the course of the novel. A competitive golfer, Jordan represents one of the “new women” of the 1920s—cynical, boyish, and self-centered.
Myrtle Wilson - Tom’s lover, whose lifeless husband George owns a run-down garage in the valley of ashes.
George Wilson - Myrtle’s husband, the lifeless, exhausted owner of a run-down auto shop at the edge of the valley of ashes.
Owl Eyes - The eccentric, bespectacled drunk whom Nick meets at the first party he attends at Gatsby’s mansion. Nick finds Owl Eyes looking through Gatsby’s library, astonished that the books are real.
Klipspringer - The shallow freeloader who seems almost to live at Gatsby’s mansion, taking advantage of his host’s money. As soon as Gatsby dies, Klipspringer disappears—he does not attend the funeral, but he does call Nick about a pair of tennis shoes that he left at Gatsby’s mansion.
Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.
Themes of the Great Gatsby: The Decline of the American Dream in the 1920s
On the surface, The Great Gatsby is a story of the thwarted love between a man and a woman. The main theme of the novel, however, encompasses a much larger, less romantic scope. Though all of its action takes place over a mere few months during the summer of 1922 and is set in a circumscribed geographical area in the vicinity of Long Island, New York, The Great Gatsby is a highly symbolic meditation on 1920s America as a whole, in particular the disintegration of the American dream in an era of unprecedented prosperity and material excess.