Baz Luhrmann’s interpretation of the iconic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel finally hits theaters on May 9. The film — set around the wealth and decadence of 1920s New York — is a social commentary on the state of the world at the time. It’s also, at its core, a love story.
Love is isn’t always for another person
Fitzgerald’s book is in part a condemnation of the excessive greed and materialism of the ’20s. The obsession with material belongings — cars, homes, clothes — covers up the need for the one thing that money can’t buy: love.
The perfect example of this? People in East Egg are more than willing to attend Gatsby’s lavish parties and eat his food without ever thanking him for the opportunity. But, are they there when he dies? No — they’re only there to use his wealth to their own benefit.
Love is sometimes one-sided
Sometimes — if we try hard enough — we can believe that the object of our obsession loves us back. That’s not always the case, however, even if we are in a “relationship” with him.
Take Myrtle, for example: She loves Tom — like, really, really loves him. But, she’s nothing but an object to him. They have nothing in common, and he’ll ultimately always be thinking about Daisy.
“And what’s more, I love Daisy too,” Tom says. “Once in a while I go off on a spree and make a fool of myself, but I always come back, and in my heart I love her all the time.”
The takeaway: Love, but don’t lose your sense of self, hoping a one-sided relationship will turn into the real thing.
Love isn’t always rational
“Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay.”
All of Gatsby’s extravagant wealth wasn’t for him — it was to impress Daisy. Was it worth it? That probably depends on whom you ask. But often we’re better off investing in ourselves rather than trying to get validation from someone else.
Love isn’t always how we envision it
Gatsby spends so much time and money on Daisy. His obsession — of sorts — puts Daisy on a pedestal. Ultimately, he realizes that she’s not as perfect as he thought.
“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. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.”
We’re all guilty of this, Gatsby. It’s easy to dismiss our crush’s shortcomings — the key is to figure out who the real person is before we get hurt.
That doesn’t always happen though (speaking from personal experience on this one!).
What love lessons did you learn from reading The Great Gatsby? Start a conversation in the comments below!