The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby was one of my favorite books that I read in high school. Yes, I was one of the nerdy kids who actually read the books assigned in English class. I love the 1920s period of history and this book captures it perfectly. The glamour, the glitz, the loose morals, the dizzying heights, and the foreshadowed crash.

Everybody who's anybody has been to one of Gatsby's parties. His Long Island mansion is forever alight with the buzz of a never ending party, music, and booze. But no one really seems to know Gatsby and the speculative stories surrounding him only serve to drive the mystery that is Jay Gatsby. When Nick Carraway comes to Long Island and befriends Gatsby, he discovers that there is an obsessive secret lurking behind the facade. It is an obsession that will ultimately led to his destruction.

I decided to pick this one up again when I heard that a new film adaptation was going to be released starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire since it had been such a long time. I am a big fan of the 1974 film version starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. Robert Redford played a fantastic Gatsby and is a total dreamboat!

My interest was piqued when I heard that Baz Luhrmann, director of Romeo and Juliet (also starring Leo) and Moulin Rouge, was directing. I loved R&J and Moulin Rouge and how he incorporated a modern soundtrack and feel into period/classic pieces, and was hoping that he would be able to do the same for The Great Gatsby. I have to say that I wasn't disappointed. My only qualm about seeing the movie was the idea of Leo DiCaprio playing Gatsby. I have nothing personal against Leo as an actor, I am just very biased towards Redford's portrayal, but I have to say that I pleasantly surprised. Leo's Gatsby was spot on and he embodied that character perfectly.

Gatsby definitely makes my list of beautifully tragic characters and he is the perfect example of how even too much of a good thing can be bad. Gatsby's fault is his hopefulness, a trait that most would say is a good thing, but Gatsby's hope was too excessive. He let his hope and the vision of the future built on that hope to blind him to reality. He was so blinded by hope that he couldn't see Daisy for what she really was and was forced to live in denial and in the end it destroyed him. I have heard Gatsby called the ultimate optimist, but does optimism mean that you throw reality out the window? To me optimism is the ability to see the good in even the worst situations. It is not denying that the bad exists, but rather believing that good can still be found. I wouldn't call Gatsby an optimist, I would call him a dreamer...

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