Book review essay: The Great Gatsby

‘Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect’ (Ralph Emerson). Everybody can be shallow and prone to frivolity as well as gaiety. When you are constantly shallow it will never end well. This is just one of the many messages sent by F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald conveys this message through his characters, Tom, Daisy and Jay, their actions and their lifestyles. He also uses a cheery lighthearted tone to show that the characters have no worries or cares. These tones are demonstrated with the use of vibrant imagery, realistic experiences and optimistic thoughts.
Fitzgerald uses one of the main characters in the book, Tom, to display shallowness. Tom displays his shallowness consistently with segregation and hatred toward the lower classes.’It’s up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things.’ (Fitzgerald 13). The quote shows that Tom thinks that other races must be kept ‘under control or in check’ so his race can be dominant, showcasing Tom’s dislike for other races and makes these other races sound undeserving of anything. Clearly this exemplifies Tom’s shallowness as he still holds beliefs of supremacy. It can also been seen throughout the text that Tom, on a constant basis, displays his dislike of lower classes. He treats George Wilson very poorly during visits because he lives in the ‘Valley Of Ashes’ which is not a rich community. Tom’s shallowness extends past just his actions to the lower class and thoughts on other races. Tom has an affair with George’s wife, and never contemplates the consequences of this, rather he lives carefree and acts as if he is doing no wrong. As such, it can be inferred that Tom really has no empathy, as he doesn’t care what his actions do to his wife or George. Tom has no emotional depth and Fitzgerald represents him with this in mind as a shallow character in the book based upon his actions.
In addition to Tom, his wife Daisy, is also one of the ways Fitzgerald sends his message. Daisy, throughout the book, is frivolous, shallow and selfish. Initially, Daisy is portrayed as a pure and innocent woman. This portrayal starts to recede early in the book when we learn about her daughter. ‘ I hope she’ll be a fool.. that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.’ (Fitzgerald 17). This direct quote from Daisy shows that she thinks the world is no place for women and that they should try to get the best they can with their looks instead of intelligence. Daisy wants to have the best life possible and has to be shallow to get it. When she starts visiting Gatsby she see’s how much money he has and instantly starts to like him. The quote “They’re such beautiful shirts… It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such ‘ such beautiful shirts before.” (Fitzgerald 92) shows that Daisy reacts to his possessions and is only interested in the material and wealth that Gatsby can provide rather than the love they used to share.
Lastly, Jay Gatsby. Gatsby could be one of the most shallow, unaware and manipulative characters in the book. The only things he cares about are money, material things, and Daisy. His judgment is clouded by love and desire for these things. Although much of Gatsby’s actions are based upon the pursuit of material possessions, he values one thing even more, Daisy. Gatsby, throughout the whole book, only has one goal: to get Daisy, and he will stop at nothing to get her. Everything he does and has done was for her. He moved to West Egg to be across from her and holds all his parties hoping one day she will come. The same quote ‘There such beautiful shirts, It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such-such beautiful shirts before’ (Fitzgerald 92) shows his shallowness. By bringing Daisy to his house and showing her his clothes, he knows she will be impressed and acquire a desire for him. He is using his material possessions and wealth to try and lure Daisy back to him, by doing so he is manipulating Daisy to ‘fall’ back in love with him. He constantly manipulates Nick throughout the book by offering access to his parties and the ability to impress Jordan all for the sole purpose of bringing Daisy in order for Gatsby to get closer to her. Gatsby is as noted above, manipulative, but also is unaware as he remains solely focused on his pursuit of Daisy. By doing these things, his personality and true desires are revealed.
As you can see, there are many characters in the book, The Great Gatsby, that all appear so different, but when their true desires are revealed, they are all truly the same. Being shallow and frivolous will never end well. Jay, Tom and Daisy all are clouded by their desires and eventually this brings their unavoidable fall and learn this lesson.

Source: Essay UK -

Not what you're looking for?

Search our thousands of essays:


About this resource

This English Literature essay was submitted to us by a student in order to help you with your studies.

Word count:

This page has approximately words.



If you use part of this page in your own work, you need to provide a citation, as follows:

Essay UK, Book review essay: The Great Gatsby. Available from: <> [17-02-19].

More information:

If you are the original author of this content and no longer wish to have it published on our website then please click on the link below to request removal:

Essay and dissertation help

Latest essays in this category:

Our free essays: