Glitz, Glamour, and the Green Light: Pulling Back the Curtain on The Great Gatsby.

What Ho, Wee Readers, and welcome to another rant… I mean well thought out think piece. If you’ve been here before, you should know how this goes by now – so let’s just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Speaking of ride, you know what book I’ve just finished…The Great Gatsby. I know those two things aren’t related but I had no segway into this part of the post, and I didn’t want to wait around and think of a proper one.

Anyway, getting back on topic ; The Great Gatsby is a book written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, first published in 1925. It is considered, I am told, as one of the great classics of American Literature. And held up in many an English course, as a master of the literary device. I will ruin what should have been the conclusion of my post, by stating here, that it is not a very good book.

Yes, shocking isn’t it – this great “masterpiece” is in actuality a boring, highly convoluted story of the death of a criminal. Full of boring, very shallowly written characters.

But please, let me explain before you raise your pitchforks.

Part the First: Pretty Pros, Do Not a Good Story Make

I’m not denying that in certain ways, the Great Gatsby is a very well written book. It’s pros after all are beautiful, having an almost hypnotic quality to them when listened to in audio form.

However I would ask my Wee readers to look past that, past the gentle rhythm of those phrases, to what they’re actually saying. What is the story of the Great Gatsby? Aplogies for any spoilers ahead.

Our Narrator Nick, moves into a small cottage right beside the mansion of the “mysterious” Jay Gatsby, who throws wild parties every single night. I mean he sounds like the worst kind of neighbor to me, but like I don’t think Nick seems to mind. He’s much too busy congratulating himself over his own “honesty” and “virtue” to really hear the din anyway. These partieas are apparently so wild that you can just turn up and you’ll be let in, no invitation needed. In fact most if not all the guest weren’t invited, only Nick, at his little cabin, recives an invitation.

I’m going to speed past this bit as quickly as I can, as that’s how bored I am now right now. So bear with me. Turns out Gatsby is in love with Nick’s cousin Daisy, who lives across the lake with her rich husband and child, and all the parties he’s thrown have been to catch her attention. Nick agrees to basically set up a date with the two of them, and they begin an affair.

But don’t worry, before you start to think that something morally questionable is going on , let me assure you, Daisy’s husband is a racist arsehole. Of course this is a book published in 1925, about elite American society, so basically all the characters are that. But it’s somehow supposed to be different with him.

He’s also having an affair with a mechanic’s wife, which is viewed as a bad thing he’s doing – which to be fair, it is – but it’s fine when Daisy does it apparently. Anyway a lot of confusing faffing around in each other’s cars later, Daisy accidentally runs over Tom’s mistress but because of some car swapping shinaggings, everyone thinks it’s Gatsby instead. So the mistress’s husband shoots him and most people don’t even bother to show up to his funeral.

And that’s it, stripped of all its pretty prose and liquistic tricks, that is the story of the great Gatsby. A sad, convoluted tale of a criminal’s pointless murder. Okay, I’ve throughly depressed myself, onto the next part.

Part the Second: The Green Light and the Literary Device

But wait, I hear you say – isn’t The Great Gatsby famous for its ingenious use of literary devices? The green light at the end of Daisy’s dock, symbolically embodying Jay Gatsby’s undying love, desperation, and inability to fully achieve the American dream? Yes, I will give you that, it’s an ingenious use of a literarily device – for if we’re too busy staring into that startlingly green light, we don’t see anything it’s hiding. We don’t examine whether that love is more a reflection of Gatsby’s yearning for wealth and position than it is any real affection for Daisy. We don’t look at the depths that desperation has led him too, or how skewd this version of the American dream really is.

If we’re looking too hard into the light, into the deeper meaning behind it, and patting ourselves on the back for how clever we are for spotting it, we don’t see that the author has twisted himself up so hard trying to make Gatsby’s death a tragedy, that he’s accidentally made it a contrived aubserdity. Really it’s a work of genius on Fitzgerald’s part, it’s a pity he didn’t use any of that genius to write a better book in the first place.

Part the Third: The (2013) Adaptation, and it’s Genius

So if we were to look for a good adaptation of this book, this literary classic what we should really be looking for is not one that keeps strictly to every wobbly plot point of the original. No what we need is one that keeps to the spirit of the book. To the showmanship and illusion of the green light and the elegant pros of Fitzgerald’s masterpiece.

To me, ignorant pion that I am, that film will always be the 2013 adaption, staring Leonardo Decapreo. But wait I hear the snobs in the back of the room cry, isn’t that a bad adaption? Isn’t it too flashy and over stylised, saturated with modern music and a casting more concerned with big names than actually capability? Well, I can’t say you’re wrong on all accounts – though as for Gatsby I’d argue stunt casting or a big name of some kind was the only way to make the character work to a modern audience – that’s not my argument here. No my point is that like the book before it, this film uses it bright colours, it’s stylised editing, it’s banging soundtrack and let’s face it , it’s big named casting to hide that it’s still telling the same kind of bland, convoluted story of a man getting killed because he was in the wrong car at the wrong time, that the book left behind.

I mean it works, arguably even better than the book’s tricks – I really enjoyed this film. The song “Young and Beutiful” makes Gatsby’s and Daisy’s affair seem deep and meaningful, even though honestly it’s anything but on either side.

Though if you’re still determined to watch a more honest interpretation of The Great Gatsby, might I recommend The Family Guy Adaption?

So that’s my take on The Great Gatsby, a strange and convoluted story, ending in a strange and covulted death. Hidden under layers of tricks and bright green lights. But maybe you saw more to it than I did, if so tell me down below in the comments – it’s why I have them in the first place.

If you’ve enjoyed this trashing of an American classic, why not follow the Wee Blog if you haven’t already. And check me out on Twitter, Instagram, Mastodon, Pinterest, Tumblr, TikTok, Facebook and Kofi. Also remember to sign up for the Wee Mailing List before April 5th for my first feelings on three great works of literature. Until next time, Wee Readers, keep safe and have a very Bonny day.


7 thoughts on “Glitz, Glamour, and the Green Light: Pulling Back the Curtain on The Great Gatsby.

  1. This was a nightmare of an assignment in my college days. I think I missed the point that the shallow was intentional. Thank you for clearing this up. Your assessment is spot on. It was refreshing in fact.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have two cool memories of The Great Gatsby: the first being that I was the only one in my Junior Year of High School class to actually read the book, albeit half of it anyway, and 2nd that I ended up enjoying the book when I read again for a College class. Gatsby is more of an interesting time capsule of the Roaring 20’s, and offers a brief insider glimpse into the infamous Black Sox scandal of 1919 as Arnold Rothstein has a small role in the book. Jay Gatsby I kind of equate to a Film-Noir style character in that he was decent enough early on in life, but one too many morally ambiguous choices led to a decline/fall from grace, and happiness would forever elude him. The best thing about the 1974 film adaptation was Bruce Dern playing Tom Buchanan, the kind of bad guy Dern played throughout his career made him perfect for the character.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You don’t give yourself enough credit for the segue–“enjoy the ride” would make a great connection to that most significant incident in the book, namely the hit-and-run. I can see the AP English essay now…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When I was in school, a long time ago, The Great Gatsby was considered to be a great work of fiction, and it was required reading in American Literature courses on the university level. I always thought it was rubbish, but I’ve never before known anyone else who held that view. Needless to say, I love this blog post! (Interesting fact: My great-uncle grew up with and knew F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda. I assume that my grandfather also knew her, but he never spoke about her.)

    Liked by 1 person

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