Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Great Gatsby

Like so many other girls my age, I avidly watch Pretty Little Liars for the fashion. Troian Bellisario (Spencer), Shay Mitchelle (Emily), Ashley Benson (Hanna) and  Lucy Hale (Aria) have better fashion sense than any other TV characters that I have ever seen. I especially love everything about Aria Montgomery... so it goes without saying that when she dressed up as Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby for Halloween, I knew that I HAD to read The Great Gatsby. And last weekend, I finally did.
Aria, dressed as Daisy Buchanan
The Great Gatsby is a 20th Century classic by F. Scott Fitzgerald that centers around a certain Jay Gatsby and his love for one Daisy Buchanan. The story is told by Nick Carraway, Daisy's cousin, who moved East to forge a life as a bondsman ( a highly unflattering term to describe an investment analyst). He hopes to experience life in the East and all it has to offer so he rents a house on Long Island rather than living right in New York City. As fortune would have it, he finds himself neighboring one of the most eccentric characters ever, Jay Gatsby.

Nick is the perfect man to tell the story since he has cultivated in himself a laissez-faire attitude towards life. The least judgmental fellow ever. Through him, you learn of Gatsby's unparalleled love for Daisy. A love that pushed him to change all that he was and become The Great Gatsby. He made a large fortune by dealing into what he suspiciously and vaguely refers to as 'the drugstores business'. In his preposterously large and richly furnished mansion, he throws lavish parties every Saturday night hoping that one day Daisy will drop by. And she does... Not how he had planned it, though. She is married to Tom (a big bully, if I may say so) and has a 4 year old daughter. 

Gatsby has all the qualities of a tragic hero in a great romance. Like many of us, he loves too much. Life has a way of screwing over such people. He tries so hard to change who he was to capture the fleeting dream that was Daisy. When he finally gets her he then works so hard to hold on to that dream... that dream that finally ruined him. It is easy to hate Daisy, and all that she stands for. She represents all those "careless people who smash up things and creatures and then retreat back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever, and let other people clean up the mess they have made.” Those who walk around, leaving scars in their wake. But they are who they are...

I make the book sound too melancholic, which is not entirely true. Beyond the heartbreak and the futility of love, The Great Gatsby is about youth and life and fun and music. Its set in an era when "gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession." Life was like an enchanting dream, full of wonder and promise. Even the wastefulness and disregard of the characters inspires awe. It is a book that every young person ought to read. It has the most beautiful ending:

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning ——
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

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