Yet The Great Gatsby is so much more than just a love story. It is also a reflection on the hollowness of a life of leisure and is obsessed with controlling time: Gatsby wants to create a beautiful future by restoring the past.
Young, handsome and fabulously rich, Jay Gatsby is the bright star of the Jazz Age, but as writer Nick Carraway is drawn into the decadent orbit of his Long Island mansion, where the party never seems to end, he finds himself faced by the mystery of Gatsby’s origins and desires. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life, Gatsby is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon, this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel.
In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald brilliantly captures both the disillusionment of post-war America and the moral failure of a society obsessed with wealth and status. But he does more than render the essence of a particular time and place, for in chronicling Gatsby’s tragic pursuit of his dream, Fitzgerald re-creates the universal conflict between illusion and reality.
Fitzgerald’s writing is almost like a work of poetry, with waves of literary brilliance creating a rich and lush rhythm which you can almost tap your foot to. The descriptions are jarringly, magnificently beautiful so that it almost made my heart ache.
Here are 25 of the most powerful and profound lines from this beautifully crafted classic novel.
1. “And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”
2. “Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead.”
3. “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 any one,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.’”
4. “She laughed again, as if she said something very witty, and held my hand for a moment, looking up into my face, promising that there was no one in the world she so much wanted to see.”
5. “I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”
6. “It is invariably saddening to look through new eyes at things upon which you have expended your own powers of adjustment.”
7. “Reserving judgements is a matter of infinite hope.”
8. “There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams — not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion.”
9. “I love her and that’s the beginning and end of everything.”
10. “The officer looked at Daisy while she was speaking, in a way that every young girl wants to be looked at sometime, and because it seemed romantic to me I have remembered the incident ever since.”
11. “He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.”
12. “Life is much more successfully looked at from a single window.”
13. “He smiled understandingly — much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced — or seemed to face — the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”
14. “You can’t repeat the past.”
15. “The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”
16. “Their eyes met and they stared together at each other, alone in space.”
17. “The trouble is that sometimes she gets foolish ideas in her head and doesn’t know what she’s doing.”
18. “I’m inclined to reserve all judgements, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores.”
19. “He knew that Daisy was extraordinary, but he didn’t realize just how extraordinary a ‘nice’ girl could be.”
20. “All the bright precious things fade so fast, and they don’t come back.”
21. “It takes two to make an accident.”
22. “Well, there I was, way off my ambitions, getting deeper in love every minute, and all of a sudden I didn’t care.”
23. “No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.”
24. “And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
25. “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning——
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”