F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favorite authors and The Great Gatsby is one of his most prestigious titles. In addition to being a great story, the book taught me more than I ever expected.
The Great Gatsby chronicles the struggles and lavish lifestyle of Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway, neighbors living during a time of corruption as well as beauty.
It opens with Nick speaking to a counselor about knowing Gatsby and reflecting on Gatsby’s life. Nick meets Gatsby after moving into a subdivision in the privileged West Egg to start a new life and ends up living next door to the infamous man himself.
Gatsby is very rich and lives an extravagant life, he throws parties every weekend. Nick lives a normal life but has one thing on Gatsby.
Gatsby is in love with Nick’s married cousin, Daisy. The story follows Gatsby’s journey to Daisy and the trials that come into play as he pursues her.
This film sets an extreme focus on human nature and the selfishness of it all. Gatsby wants what he wants even though what he desires most in the world is taken. Daisy’s husband cheats on Daisy with another man’s wife.
“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy. They smashed up things and people, and then retreated back into their money and their vast carelessness,” the movie says when describing Daisy and her husband.
Why were they like this?
Selfishness, human nature, the inclination to pleasure without thinking about the cost or the consequences. It also shows that love can be situational, and maybe the idea that the world has for love is not really love at all.
Maybe love has become an idea that humans have adapted to fit their own personal needs, or more importantly, their wants.
Gatsby spends his whole life pursuing pleasure and his idea of love. Ultimately, all of his efforts, all of his chasing, lead to nothing. He is empty because his idea of love is infatuation. He does not see Daisy for several years, yet he is still in love with the thought of her.
Romans 12:9 says that “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.” Sincerity by definition means to truly love, with all that is within.
The model of love that the Bible gives people completely contradicts the one shown in the movie. True love should challenge selfish human nature and encourage one to put another’s needs before their own.
Tom tells Nick that “Life is something you dominate, if you’re any good.”
This shows how most of the people in the film view life. They view it as something to be conquered. The purpose of it is to overtake it for selfish reasons.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, though jaded and reckless in his endeavors and descriptions of love, also has some of my favorite perspectives on it. He writes with a style that is so eloquent that it is almost harmonious.
He puts it this way: “Love should be a simpler, kinder thing; but every man loves out of something in himself that cannot be changed.”
I think that this can be interpreted in many different ways, but I look at it this way: I want to make love a simpler, kinder thing.
I want to love out of the part of myself that puts others first, the part that can be changed and sculpted into the woman I am meant to be through Him.
The love that Fitzgerald so beautifully writes about in so many classic stories, is only a novelty version of the love that we as humans are capable of. It is a selfish love that wants, opposed to a selfless love that wants.
Both wanting, but the selfless lover does not want for them self.
They do not love out of the selfish piece that cannot be changed, rather they love out of the part of themselves that is able to be worked on throughout their life.