Why I Hate The Great Gatsby
Updated: Sep 22, 2020
So far, I’ve only really talked about books I’ve enjoyed. The majority of my posts have been about more contemporary books as well. But I majored in English Literature and spent four years of my life talking about classics, so let’s talk about a classic. And since we’re back in the roaring 20’s, today I’m going to talk about The Great Gatsby and why I hate it.
This is most likely going to be more of a rant, it’ll be a shorter post, and yes, I’m not joking when I say I hate The Great Gatsby.
I know that a lot of people enjoy this book, I don’t though. I have many classics that I do enjoy, but I’ve hated The Great Gatsby ever since I first read it in high school. Since then, I think I’ve read it nearly ever year during my time as an undergrad; so I’ve had a lot of time to think about everything I hate about it.
Let’s start with the characters. Tom is a racist, and a general asshole with no good qualities. I hate him, which obviously you’re supposed to. Daisy should have never had a child as she can hardly take care of herself. She’s greedy and needs everything to be her way and handed to her because she’s a poor little rich girl; I hate her. Then there is Jay Gatsby himself. He had a good thing going for himself before he rediscovered Daisy. Like he was hella financially stable, which is my dream at this point of my life; that and to be able to give my future pug the best life he or she deserves.
Anyway, back the Gatsby. His whole life revolves around getting the girl. Or I guess I should say finding the girl. Again, Daisy is just this poor little rich girl with no agency. If Gatsby were real, I have but one question for him: what does Daisy offer you? Cause I really can’t think of anything she may offer. He could do so much better.
I only really like two characters in this book: Nick and Jordan. Jordan still isn’t the greatest character, but I wrote a short story from her point of view in college so I have a special affinity towards her. She’s still a terrible person though. All she does is just sit around for the majority of the book and watches the world burn around her. Which, I mean, I’d probably do that too, but at least I admit that I’m a terrible person!
Nick is the only good character of the bunch, and I’m not the only one who has to think that. All he does is try to be social with shitty acquaintances of his, and try to help his neighbor that he’s befriending. Everyone around him are just greedy liars set in his or her destructive ways.
Now that I’ve talked about why I hate these characters, let’s talk about the book itself. This novel was presented to me in high school as THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL.
This text is supposed to represent American spirit and ingenuity. It represents the American Dream. It showcases America’s prosperity in the 1920’s, both as a country and in its individual people.
Here’s the thing, you can’t say that a novel represents the American Dream because everyone has their own definition of the American Dream. Sure, The Great Gatsby shows one version of the American Dream, but that still doesn’t make this singular novel THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL.
Going by The Great Gatsby’s definition of the American Dream, said dream is achieved by gaining massive amounts of wealth. All wealth accumulated in this novel is gained either through illegal means or has been gained through being born in or marrying into a rich family. To me this book claims that one must be wealthy to be happy in America. And by calling this THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL, then all that matters to Americans is wealth and wealth alone.
Nothing in this novel suggests that people care about healthy relationships with family or friends, hard work isn’t important as it is who you know that matters more (even if he or she is just someone you met once in a café), and running away from your problems will always solve them.
And yes, I know that you can argue that The Great Gatsby is about how capitalism creates the majority of the problems listed above, and how capitalism destroys the American Dream; you don’t have to tell me that in comments or Twitter posts. I do not agree with or like that interpretation though.
I find this book to be no more than a story of a group of people all wanting things to go his or her own way, and get upset when they don’t get their way. I don’t think there is truly anything “deep” about this book. I find it drivel, and I’ve disliked it since the first time I read it quite a few years ago. Nothing in it leads me to call it THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL. In fact, The Great Gatsby deserves the title of “America is Only Great if You’re Rich, And Even Then You’ll Still Think You Deserve Better.”
I know, it’s a long title; I’m still workshopping it. Leave me suggestions in the comments.