--Editors Note: I'm currently applying for a ESL position and was asked to write to the following question. "What is the most significant novel of the twentieth century? Justify your answer with specific examples." Let me know you what you think! :)
The Great Gatsby is a classic and important novel of the twentieth century that at first glance portrays the American dream of a young man’s ability to rise from poverty to success albeit with a few lies, in order to gain wealth, status, and his beloved’s heart. As stated before the underlying concept of the novel is the American dream, this is significant because it falls along the lines of the age old adage of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. However an adage that is rarely noted is the idea of love. This idea is important because love can be found in various ways; money, material possessions, familial relations, friendship, etc.
Within The Great Gatsby the imagery of love is shown in various ways, for instance the Buchanan’s are less concerned with their young daughter; spending more time focusing on adulterous relationships and/or superficial matters--like maintaining the status quo. Jay Gatsby has the most complicated virtues of love because his motives are shaded by mistruths by an incessant need to be recognized although he doesn’t necessarily feel comfortable being in the spotlight. For example, Gatsby had many lavish parties but those in attendance held contradictory views on their mysterious hosts’ occupation, life, and past.
In regards to the underlying theme of the novel Gatsby is the basic archetype of a man who remakes his image because he detested being poor and yearned to be apart of high society. It just so happened that he met Daisy and therefore he began to build his life around her and his need altered from being rich, to impressing and gaining the ideal woman to fit his new lifestyle.
Whilst, the narrator Nick is seemingly complacent, he has a sociable quality that the reader will be able to relate to. For example, bonding quickly with Gatsby after shortly meeting him, which begets a friendship and a way for Gatsby to rendezvous with Daisy. Despite the latter, Nick’s friendship with Gatsby shows love because he is one of three persons that attends Gatsby’s funeral and loved him for who he was and not what Gatsby owned.
This book takes place during the Roaring Twenties, a time where the United States was extremely prosperous. During this time, the American dream was at its pinnacle. The United States has never been as successful since that time period and citizens are always striving to recreate that momentum of industry and creativity. Even in 2011 the quest for upward mobility, love, and dreams of non complacency are the quandaries that the typical reader will find themselves placed in. Never realizing that this book was a foreshadowing of what over-indulgence can foster. Depression, lost of moral fiber, lack of self respect, and most importantly the destruction of love. No matter the time period this novel has lasting significance because all the characters are but a mirror of our souls.