In the following sections, you can find advice for your interpretation of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

First, we will take a look at the central themes of the novel, considering its perspective on both love and death, but focusing especially on the image it presents of the American Dream.

Secondly, we will consider some of the most important symbols in the story in greater detail, such as the eyes of Doctor TJ Eckleburg or the green light at the bay. We will also consider the symbolism of some of the key characters of the novel, specifically Daisy and Gatsby himself.  

Finally, we will take a look at the main messages the story presents, such as its warning against the emptiness of upper-class life and its criticism of the ideal of the American Dream - as conveyed through the dialogue of characters like Daisy and Nick.

Excerpt from the study guide:

The Great Gatsby is one of the world’s most famous novels about the theme of the American Dream.

Through the tragic character of Jay Gatsby, Fitzgerald shows the folly of living your life chasing an unrealistic dream. By describing Gatsby’s shady background, he further seems to argue that the path to realising the American Dream may not always be hard, honest work - in fact, the economic winners often end up being those who are willing to move outside of the law.  Finally, by describing other rich people’s reactions to Gatsby, Fitzgerald argues that though self-made persons are the American ideal, they will often find themselves rejected by the ‘old money’ - people who belong to good families and inherited most of their wealth.

Through his description of the shallowness of upper class American society, Fitzgerald further criticises even those who seem to have achieved the dream of economic prosperity - such as Tom and Daisy Buchanan - as their lives are ultimately revealed to be empty and purposeless.

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