Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Final Reflections on Gatsby

The preface to my edition of The Great Gatsby asserts the following:

"The Great Gatsby does not proclaim the nobility of the human spirit; it is not politicaly correct; it does not reveal how to solve the problems of life; it delivers no fashionable or comforting messages. It is just a masterpiece."

To what exent to you agree/disagree with this quotation? Feel free to comment on one small piece or on the overall sentiment of the passage. Enjoy!

27 comments:

Laurab said...

I agree with this quote. As the movie said that we watched in class about Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby really came clean about the drastic partying and ways during that time. To me, it seems like Fitzgerald did not sugar coat anything, he just told it as it was. In that case, it is not politically correct. Also, in the quote it says "does not proclaim the nobility of the human spirit". This is also true because, while I was reading the book at least, there did not seem to be one character who was wholly noble in what they did. Everyone seemed to have their own desires in mind. In this way, the book does not convey that every person is noble.

zachf said...

I'm just going to focus on the part of the preface that says The Great Gatsby does not reveal how to solve problems in life. I agree with this statement because the majority (if not all) of the characters were so dysfunctional they had no idea how to solve any problems in their lives.
Gatsby could not get over Daisy, even after five years, which is pretty ridiculous considering the fact he expected her to the same way she was before he left to go fight in the war. That is obviously Gatsby's biggest problem because Gatsby makes Daisy his reason for being alive.
As for Wilson, he kills Gatsby on suspicion on killing his wife when really Gatsby wasn't driving the car. Wilson didn't deal with his problem in the correct way because he ended up killing himself before he could really know how he would cope without Myrtle. Maybe Myrtle got what she deserved being that she cheated on her husband but then again most of the people in this book committed acts of infidelity.
The Great Gatsby pretty much shows us what not to do when facing a problem, but it does not reveal how to deal with problems and that is why I agree with that part of the preface.

kyle said...

I think this quote is basically an overstatement and generalization about Gatsby. It definitly represents Gatsby at a basic level, outlining some of the themes, but there are many smaller instances in Gatsby that don't fit into this quote about Gatsby. I think that Fitzgerald might haved tried to write the book around the parameters in this quote, but didn't fill these requirements fully. Nick is the exception to the first sentence, in the way that he does not cheat on anyone, and stays by Gatsby even through Gatsby's funeral when other people don't. Gatsby is in general, a politically correct book, at least for our times. There is very little that would push the boundaries of taboo or inappropriate. The next two staements in the quote, from my point of view, are correctly stated, but other people might disagree. The final sentence of the quote is purely a persons oppinion, and in some peoples minds does apply to the book, while it doesn't in other peoples minds.

hannahs said...

I agree with the part of this quote that says the novel does not offer a comforting message. I think Fitzgerald was not trying to comfort those who had been hurt by love. He was trying to make sense of his relationsip with Zelda, and prove that superficial love does not produce a happy ending for some.

ShannonH said...

I disagree with this quote. I think that with any novel, there is always a positive message about humanity, or life, inbedded in the book. I do agree that The Great Gatsy is a masterpiece, but I think that the novel itself does show the nobility of the human spirit. The human spirit in this book is one of patience and perserverance. I think that Gatsby shows the ideal man of that time, a noble, charismatic, wealthy, and extrememly kind human being. But, the true nobility of his spirit shines through when he hs able to wait patiently for the woman of his dreams for five years, along with the perserverance and hope to believe in the goodness of human nature and of God that Daisy will return.

jordanc said...

When considering the time that Gatsby was written, I do agree with this quote. Fitzgerald was revealing the new ideas to be rebellious and party much more. I agree with Laura, Fitzgerald definitely did not sugar coat anything and that made it not politically correct. The Great Gatsby turned out to be a masterpiece because of Fiztgerald revealing the truth of society during the time it was written.

nathanm said...

I do not fully agree or diasagree with this quote. This book in many ways appears to be a biography in that it seems to tell the story like it is. I agree with the last part in that it does not give a comforting message but on the contrary I feel it does show the nobility of the human spirit. Gatsby found something to strive for and creates a life goal to aspire towards; this in a way gives him a valid reason to live and to remain optimistic. though in the end Gatsby appears to "fail" in his goal his life previous to that was a clear success. In the 1920's society Gatsby achieved everything that a person wanted, he lived the american dream and brought himself up to the upper crust of society.

Blair said...

I would have to agree with this quote, except for the overwhelming presence of hope in the novel, found within Gatsby himself. Overall, it speaks very lowly of the human race and their careless actions. It certainly does not address how to solve problems in life. I would never look up to any of the characters as a role model or a strong person. The only admirable quality as I stated before was Gatsby's undying hope, which in the end even became a burden to him. But I think it is the presence of these flaws is what makes people notice the importance of what was lacking, selflessness. In the novel, everyone wanted what was best for themselves, expect for maybe the occasional exception of Nick. I think is the attention brought to the lifestyle of the time that makes it a masterpiece. Because despite what I said above, I actually did enjoy the novel.

karib said...

I agree whole-heartedly with this statement, except with the last statement that it is a masterpiece. Yes, the literary elements are deep and meaningful, but I didn't come away from Gatsby feeling like my views on humanity had been profoundly effected, which I think is a characteristic of a true masterpiece. My pesimistic side says it just proved the validity practically every flaw of human nature. But then again, I think that is something that's in the eye of the beholder.

erikaw said...

I definitely agree with this quote!! I believe that the actions performed by the characters in THE GREAT GATSBY are not the correct ways to solve one's problems. The characters committed adultry to try to escape from the struggles in their lives. Murder went on and it was a hit and run and that shows readers that they did it and that it seemed like they didn't even care. In real life one would feel continuous guilt and probably feel like they would need to say that they did it and somehow try and do something about it. There are no comforting messages because the messae that THE GREAT GATSBY sent out was how to find temporary happiness and that it was the ultimate goal of their lives. In present days people try and find lasting happiness in things they find enjoyable and fulfilling!!

jimmym92 said...

I agree with this qoute. This does not show or deliver any of those things mentioned but it does show the normal part of those things. It does not show the nobility of human spirit but it does show the true human spirit. It is not politically correct but who actually lives politically correct or for that matter would want to. The Great Gatsby does not reveal how you should solve lifes problems but it shows how we solve life's problems. There are not comforting messages but in order to find comfeorting messages in life you have to look really hard. This qoute makes me realize how much this book and our lives for that matter are completely against the rules that society sets.

Kjerstinl said...

I agree with how the quote says that it doesn't solve any problems in life. With Gatsby and Daisy, they didn't find a way to be together and it all just ended in death and corruption. Tom and Daisy are unable to seem to figure out their problems at home to keep them together. It's just a BIG circle of problems. I think that as the story progressed, problems seemed to get worse and worse. The characters thought that by avoiding the problems, they'd become better. Like Daisy for instance, cheating on her husband but not doing anything to get out of either of the relationships.

Ty said...

I agree with the preface. Gatsby is not a hero at all and he does not always do the right thing. He is just a man that can make mistakes like any other person. The quote give an example of what most books are like, with a hero that seems almost immortal and things always go their way. I think that the fact that Gatsby makes mistakes and seems very mortal makes The Great Gatsby a masterpiece.

DeclanH said...

For the most part, I agree with the preface. Like Laura and Jordan said, Fitzgerald certainly did not sugar coat anything, meaning that strictly by definition it really isn't politically correct. And The Great Gatsby reveals how to cause problems more than it reveals how to solve them. It really doesn't have a happy, comforting ending, but I think that is part of why it is such a great book. There's kind of a standard formula with many books where everything is pretty much just romanticized and it has a warm happy ending. But The Great Gatsby strayed from that standard and I think that's part of why it's so great.

matt said...

I agree with the quote. I think that Gatsby is not meant to glorify anything, or to color the truth. It is simply portraying human society for what it truly is, and it challenges the reader to look at what society has become.

chelseah said...

I completely agree with this quotation. Especially after learning about Fitzgerald and his life, and I think this quote can be compared really well to his life. It was everything but perfect, especially towards the end, so this quote could be easily applied to his life as well. As far as "Gatsby" goes, the novel itself is everything except perfect as well, but it could be considered a masterpiece in its own way. So many things go wrong throughout the novel, but it is a very realistic depiction of what could happen in life.

The one thing that I disagree with is that I do think the novel proclaims the nobility of the human spirit and could reveal how to solve problems of life just by reading the novel and learning from the lives and decisions of the characters.

kenna_d said...

I both agree and disagree with this quote. I think that Gatsby delivers no comfort, there is no true redemption factor in the novel other than the fact that people still move on with their lives after hardships. I also fully agree that it is a masterpiece. Fitzgerald's descriptions are incredible on their own, I would love to read his description of the ocean or a rainy day. It is also a masterpiece because he tells things as the truly are, things that would happen, it is not politically correct because I don't feel that that many problems could have such an insane cause and effect as it did with Gatsby's life.

I disagree mostly because, as Chelsea stated so nicely, it DOES reveal the nobility of the human spirit. Nick was the 'human spirit' the thing that watched in awe and learned from other's mistakes. His learning was the thing that showed how to problem solve things in life. He showed to run toward your problems head on, and to be loyal, even if all seems lost anyway.

KylieYoum said...

I agree with this in many ways, especially the part stating "not politically correct". For the times, yes the happenings were correct in some cases, but the lifestyle Gatsby lived was much different from Nick's, and they both lived at the same time in the same part of town! They had different behaviors which may or may not have been politcally correct of the time. Maybe Gatsby's desires were amplified, or maybe Tom's reaction to everything was too hampered.

The "no comforting messages" part of this quote is realistic too, I mean I don't like to read solely about cheating and whatnot but it really did convey the sad, despicable lives of many people of the 1920's!

kaylaf said...

I agree with this quote. The novel shows the errors that occur in life and how people try to cover them up. It does bot show the correct way to solve problems or what the human soul is truly like. It is a novel of masterpiece and that it shows the trechery of many people.

Madisonm said...

I think that I only somewhat agree with this quote. I do agree that many of the characters do not go about their problems in the correct manner, but I do believe that the novel says something about the human spirit. It is only because of noble feelings, or the attempt to have true noble feelings, that most of the characters completed dishonorable acts. I think that it captures several different aspects of the human spirit: love, aspiration, and even deceit and decpetion. Even though those last two arent positive, still, are they not accurate in describing mankind? The book ultimately narrates the story of love, love lost, revival of a relationship, and the frantic and desperate battle to hold it together. I think it is hard to disagree or agree with the statement from this preface because the book seems to both embody, and fail to embody, many of the ideas from the preface. I think that is why the closing statement for this is "It is just a masterpiece" because despite all of the deception, lies, and mistrust, you can still manage to find good intentions in the characters, whether or not they were able to keep them as good intentions and act upon them in a 'good' way.

Hannah J said...

Personally, I do agree with this quote. This book tells it like it is; sugar-coating not included. It certainly isn't politically correct because of all the affairs that go on. No comforting message is illustrated...I mean, people get killed and there's no real happy ending...how is that comforting?!
However, besides all this, it was a masterpiece. It was definitely my favorite out of every book that we have read so far this year.

Dan E said...

I both agree and disagree with parts of this quote about Gatsby. First, I think it is over the top to call The Great Gatsby a story that delivers no message or deeper meaning. Fitzgerald expresses his views and ideas elegantly, however the ideas are somewhat against the grain and at the time may have been outlandish. But looking from our point of view The Great Gatsby has many messages and deeper meanings that are truly significant. The Part I agree with is “It is just a masterpiece." This may be one of the most truthful and realistic things I have ever heard about a piece of literature. I believe that not all pieces of literature were meant to have all the deeper meaning and symbolism and thematic brilliance, some stories are meant to be great stories. I wouldn't go so far as to say there was no meaning but some novels are simply beautiful stories to be enjoyed by all.

briang said...

I agree and disagree with this preface from The Great Gatsby. There are certain parts to it that I believe to be false, while other parts I find to be extremely true. For instance, the first part of the preface describes how Gatsby has no nobility or human spirit. Just as Kyle mentioned earlier, I disagree with this statement because I believe Nick, the narrator and “all seeing eye” of the novel, illustrated some of these qualities. He was the only character in the whole novel who didn’t cheat anyone out of a situation and remained loyal and honest throughout the story. However, I also agree with the second to last statement, “it delivers no fashionable or comforting messages”. Throughout Gatsby, problems and conflicts arise constantly, however how to solve these problems are never revealed. Even the final passages of the novel do not reveal how to solve these issues. Instead, it describes how Nick felt about the situations in the story and how he will carry on Gatsby’s legacy and learn from his experiences. Fitzgerald purposely wrote The Great Gatsby without any clear answers of how to solve the undeniable problems with society. Gatsby instead simply describes the problems that exist in our society to make the reader more aware of what it has become. Therefore, it is up to the reader to interpret the issues themselves and to discover their own method for how to solve them.

Liz said...

The section I chose to comment on was "... it delivers no fashionable or comforting messages. It is just a masterpiece." I agree with this quote and think that that is the reason Fitzgerald wrote the novel. The novel does not have a happy ending or reassure the reader that everything is going to be alright. It shows the reader that bad things happen and consequences are prominent. Fitzgerald knew this was not a happy book but that it would leave a lasting impression on his readers and it really is "...just a masterpiece."

Lane C. said...

I have to agree that the book delivers no real comforting or fashionable message. What it does deliver, however, is a message that no one in that day and age wanted to hear, possesions don't make you happy. Gatsby wanted to posses Daisy not love her.
Also by the total lack of any honorable character (exepting maybe, Nick), it definitely does not proclaim the nobility of the human spirit.

CMeghan said...

I am here to represent the minority with Shannon!

I disagree with this quote. Whole-heartedly, unreservedly disagree.

The nobility of the human spirit: Is it wise to wait for a person you love? Is it wise to hold on to a dream for so long you lose yourself in it? No. No, it is most unwise. But it is undeniably noble. It is hard, perhaps, for us to understand and sympathize with Jay Gatsby. Most of us haven't had to let go of any of our dreams. But just imagine if someone you love, the person you love MOST in the world, was lost to you, was so close you could touch them but no longer yours. Ah, just the thought hurts. Now, would ever, ever give up on even the idea that your sister/brother/mother/father/friend/romantic interest/fill in the blank would love you and be near you again? Of course not! That's why after ten years families still search for their kidnapped children, why elephants stand mourning for days over their fallen herd members. Perseverance is not wise, but it is one of the few true bits of nobility humanity has a claim to.

As for solving the problems of life and the messages it brings...

The only remedy for love is to love more. Because, "Old sport, the dance is unimportant." (Jay Gatsby). It is the life we live between dances that matters most.

<3

EmilyH said...

I have mixed feelings about the quote. The Great Gatsby is certainly a masterpiece in the fact that it can identify with almost anyone, however I came away from it thinking,
"um... okay. Is that all?"
I think that a true masterpiece is memorable, and I find difficulty in remembering almost all but the simple plot line.
I think that there have been lots of books that qualify better for masterpieces with symbolism, plot, character depth etc, but i have to admit that it was better, with much more solid material to analyze, than most of the books we have read for school in the past... three or so years.
So I guess that I just look at the book from two different perspectives, as I found myself agreeing with both Kari and Meghan's comments, but I can see the advantages and valid points of both sides.