What Still Makes ‘The Great Gatsby’ So Iconic?

‘The Great Gatsby’ is a classic story of the ages. Let’s discuss all the ways in which ‘The Great Gatsby’ is so great!

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Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby raising a glass

It doesn’t matter how much time has passed; The Great Gatsby is arguably the best American novel ever written. But why? What’s so special about this century-old novel? It’s not relevant anymore, outdated in many regards, and Nick Carraway is kind of an ass. Sorry I said it, but it’s kind of true. But regardless of those misgivings, people still read this as a sacred text, as it’s about sour love and the misguided American Dream. For the most part, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story is actually still relevant especially regarding gender norms as it’s constantly a hot topic in Western media. And making big money will always be an interest in discussion, whether through nepotism or self-made billionaires.

Fitzgerald wrote this prolific story as a mirror image of his hopes and dreams of being a rightful artist. He was trying to achieve the American Dream. Tried he did, but he failed in more ways than one. From being an alcoholic, causing trouble at party events, and having troubling issues with his wife, Zelda Fitzgerald, his life was a tragedy upon his death. So much so, that the iconic novel actually didn’t get famous until after his death, when the book was selected to give to the military in the 1940s. The book portrayed much happier times in the 1920s during the Great Depression, so it truly brought the story back into talks.

Old Money Vs. New Money in Modern Times

The Great Gatsby book cover

Whether from old or new money, people constantly try to portray they are worthy of fame. Obviously, this is the opposite regarding old money vs. new being more desirable. Now, it’s far opposite. Forshame anyone with a helping hand in any way, and you are called a nepo baby. Is that a bad thing? No! Definitely not. Everyone, at some point in time, got a helping hand somewhere. Still, the issue is some of these celebrities, such as Kaia Gerber or Kendall Jenner, aren’t always forthcoming about nepotism, and they feel the need to overcompensate their lack of reason to be relevant.

On the contrary, Jay Gatsby threw these outlandish parties not only for his lost love, Daisy, to walk in but to show that he had money and loads of it. But it didn’t matter in the end. He was ashamed of his past because he didn’t come from old money and because of the stigma and negativity toward people that came from new money. So he hid behind half-truths and larger lies. He could never outrun his past. Would Gatsby be happy in this day and age?

But regardless of what side you are, from getting a helping hand from a rich Uncle to building your network from the ground up, people need to stop worrying about what people have and either appreciate what they are contributing to society or tune them out. Simple as that.

The American Dream is Still Relevant

To this day, people are trying to find the American Dream. But what the hell does that even mean in the 2020s? We live in a world where things are constantly being invented, such as self-driving cars, AI everything, and getting the next iPhone. The world we live in is far different than the 1920s. Right? No, not really. Think about it for a second.

The American Dream used to mean a stable job you enjoyed in some capacity, married with kids, and owning your own property. The gender roles were rather strict and never forthcoming of changing standards. Of course, this changed through time; as years went by, women had more autonomy. But even now, women still face issues daily, whether that be common sexism in the workplace, the pink tax, or abortion laws. Women have more of a say in what their American Dream means to them. It can be as simple as having a job they’ve been wanting since childhood, or perhaps their dream is truly being an at-home mom. The American Dream is moldable because the world is ever-changing by the second.

This is the same for men as well. Whatever men choose to do with their lives should be considered The American Dream, and best of all, there is no checklist of what you need to have done in your lifetime to be considered successful. People were expected to have kids in their late teens to early twenties and settle down for years to come, but now women and men have options to explore other avenues in life. And let’s not get started with POC and the LGBTQ+ community, as they were never allowed any authority over what type of life they wanted. The American Dream can be anything a person wishes, but that doesn’t mean people won’t fail at it. Fail and fail, and continue to fail until you don’t. You never get things right the first time. If you do, then you’re lucky, my friend.

The Book is Filled with Thought-provoking Ideas

F. Scott Fitzgerald portrait

Regardless of the sexist and aloof comments made by Nick Carraway, there are some moments from him and other characters that really pick at my feelings. Here are a few of my favorite lines that are in my heart today.

In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

Nick Carraway

I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.

Daisy Buchanan

“Can’t repeat the past? Why, of course you can!”

Jay Gatsby

“You’re a rotten driver,” I protested. “Either you ought to
be more careful, or you oughtn’t to drive at all.”
“I am careful.”
“No, you’re not.”
“Well, other people are,” she said lightly.
“What’s that got to do with it?» “They’ll keep out of my way,” she insisted. “It takes two
to make an accident.
“Suppose you met somebody just as careless as yourself.” “I hope I never will,” she answered. “I hate careless people. That’s why I like you.”

Conversation between Nick Carraway and Jordan Baker

I couldn’t forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made….

Nick Carraway

“I’m thirty,” I said. “I’m five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor.”

Nick Carraway

The story truly told multidimensional stories for the ages. It keeps readers thinking and creates more arguments for discussion.

The Great Gatsby will live on for eternity as one of the best-written novels. For more opinions on literature, click here. For more about Fitzgerald, click here or here.