I doubt anyone has gone through their education without reading "The Great Gatsby." It's become nearly as big a staple as Shakespeare in literary studies, and not without good reason. It's overflowing with symbolism and themes and imagery. When taken for what it truly is, it's a good story. However, ever since the glamorous film adaption, "The Great Gatsby" has become dangerously romanticized.
"The Great Gatsby" is not a happy tale, nor do I think it was ever meant to be. At its heart, it's a blatant criticism of capitalism and also the commodification of not only material items, but human beings as well. Yet, people suddenly can't look past the glamour of it all and see the true ugliness behind it.
The Kardashians threw a Gatsby themed party somewhat recently and it made me wonder if any of them had actually read the book, considering the fabulous parties, glitter and champagne were perhaps one of Fitzgerald's most obvious ways of criticizing the very type of rich people that the Kardashians are. In essence, they portrayed a criticism of themselves.
In the novel, Gatsby's parties are manic in an almost disturbing way. People are practically swimming in alcohol, gorging themselves on ridiculously expensive goods and solely preoccupied with fogging up their own minds so that they forget about the dullness they experience in their daily opulent lives. These are the type of people, like Tom and Daisy, who have a complete and utter disregard for their actions and the way they affect the people surrounding them. Tom married Daisy for shallow reasons. Tom has a mistress and gives zero cares to his wife or his mistress's husband (or his mistress, herself). Daisy plays mind games with Gatsby as a means to pretend to escape her monotonous life.
Even Gatsby himself uses Nick as a way to get to Daisy. He lies about his fortune, which he achieved through bootlegging, not the reputable manner he wants people to think. In fact, nearly every relationship in the novel is a lie. No one is happy in their own life, so they drag other people into their messes like toys that can be dispensed of, and when everything crashes and burns, they go back to living their lives of excess without a backwards glance.
Perhaps one of the most romanticized notions (one that brings out complete disbelief in me that anyone could ever think it) is Gatsby and Daisy's "relationship." I've seen many a person claim that they "want a love like Gatsby and Daisy" and when I hear this, I can't help but think to myself, "Oh, so you want a shallow relationship full of lies and deceit?" Because the fact of the matter is, Daisy was never going to leave Tom for Gatsby. Not because of her daughter, but because she didn't want to give up the gilded lifestyle she had settled into. Daisy would rather stay married to a man who cheats on her and continue living unhappily than give up her riches.
Sure, the world we see in a large portion of the novel, the shiny and glamorous one, is exciting and captivating, but it's not what it seems. It's gold painted brass, essentially, meaning that, underneath it's expensive-looking exterior, it's not nearly as pretty. So, thinking of "The Great Gatsby" as a lifestyle to strive for may mean that you missed the entire point of the story. If you're not disturbed and unsettled by the manic, cruel, and greedy nature of the wealthy in this novel, then you may want to look a little closer and read between the lines, because what's there is something disquieting.