"THE GREAT GATSBY" (2013) Review (2023)

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"THE GREAT GATSBY" (2013) Review

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Before the release of Baz Luhrmann's recent adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel, "The Great Gatsby", there have been three previous movie adaptations and a television movie version. None of these versions have been well received by the critics. Even this latest adaptation has been receiving mixed reviews. I must admit that I had been reluctant to see the movie, myself. But dazzled by the movie's MTV-style trailer, I decided to see it for the sake of the visual effects.

Many who have read Fitzgerald's novel or seen any of the previous adaptations, know the story. "THE GREAT GATSBY" told the story of a mysterious young millionaire named Jay Gatsby who settles in a large house in the fictional town of West Egg (for the noveau riche), on prosperous Long Island, during the summer of 1922 - the early years of the Jazz Age. Narrated by Gatsby's neighbor; the well-born, yet impoverished Nick Carraway; audiences become aware of the millionaire's desire to woo and win back the heart of Daisy Fay Buchanan, an old love he had first met during World War I and Nick's cousin. Unfortunately for Gatsby, Daisy is married to one of Nick's former Yale classmates, Tom Buchanan, who comes from old Chicago money. Tom is engaged in an extramarital affair with one Myrtle Wilson, who is the wife of a gas station owner located in the Valley of Ashes - a stretch of road between Long Island and Manhattan. Gatsby invites Nick to one of his nightly lavish parties, given to impress Daisy, who lives across Oyster Bay at East Egg, a neighborhood for those from old money. Nick learns from Jordan Baker, an old Louisville friend of Daisy's, that Gatsby would like him to arrange a meeting with his former love over afternoon tea. The two former lovers reunite on a rainy afternoon and re-ignite their love affair that eventually ends in tragedy.

If critics were hoping that Baz Luhrmann would produce and direct a flawless or near flawless adaptation of Fitzgerald's novel, they were bound to be disappointed. "THE GREAT GATSBY" is not flawless. There were times when I found the movie a bit too melodramatic - especially during the party sequences. And I never saw the need to open the film with Nick Carraway being treated for alcoholism in a sanatorium. Luhrmann and the movie's other screenwriter, Craig Pearce, apparently included the sanatorium additions to transform Nick's character into some F. Scott Fitzgerald clone. The movie even ended with Nick's written recollections being given the title of Fitzgerald's novel. Frankly, I found this dumb and unnecessary. I also found the party sequence held by Tom and his married lover Myrtle Wilson at a New York apartment rather frantic. I realize that Nick became drunk at this party. But this scene proved to be one in which Luhrmann's colorful style nearly got the best of him.

I suspect that many expect me to complain about some of the music featured in "THE GREAT GATSBY" - namely the director's use of hip hop music. However . . . I have no complaints about Luhrmann using modern day music in a film set in 1922. For some reason I cannot explain, I believe Luhrmann and composer Craig Armstrong did a pretty bang-up job in blending their occasional use of modern-day music with some of the movie's scenes. There were also complaints that Catherine Martin's costumes were not a complete accurate projection of 1920s fashion. I did notice that although the movie was set in 1922, the clothes seemed to be a reflection of the mid or late period of that decade. Then I saw images like the following:

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"THE GREAT GATSBY" (2013) Review (4)

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Or images like the following for the male characters:

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I had wept with exultation and joy at my first sight of Martin's costumes. Her costumes for this film are some of the most gorgeous I have seen in a period drama in quite a while. Absolutely . . . bloody . . . gorgeous. The moment I set eyes on those costumes, I realized that I could not care less whether her work was an accurate reflection of 1922 fashion or not. Martin also served as the movie's production designer. If there was any justice, this would earn double Academy Award nominations for both her costumes and the movie's production designs. Baz Luhrmann filmed "THE GREAT GATSBY" in Australia, which means that he and his crew had to re-create 1922 Long Island and Manhattan from scratch. Martin was basically responsible for the movie's early Art Deco look - especially for scenes set in Gatsby's East Egg manor, his Manhattan speakeasy, the Manhattan restaurant where Nick and Jordan met, the Buchanans' East Egg home and especially the bleak-looking Valley of Ashes, the location of George Wilson's garage and the infamous Dr. T. J. Eckleburg billboard. Needless to say, I was more than impressed. I was dazzled.

I have been so busy discussing the movie's technical aspects that I failed to say anything about Luhrmann and Pearce's adaptation of Fitzgerald's film. I have already expressed my displeasure at their attempt to transform Nick Carraway into some kind of Fitzgerald clone at the movie's beginning and end. But aside from this faux paus, I feel that the two did a pretty damn good job. Were they completely faithful to the novel? No. Did this spell disaster? For some moviegoers and fans of Fitzgerald's novel, it did. But I do not share their feelings. I do not demand that a movie or television production re-create a novel or play in exact details. That road leads to insanity and sometimes, disaster. Aside from what was done to Nick's character at the beginning and end, the movie featured a few other changes. In this movie, a grieving George Wilson learned from Tom Buchanan that Jay Gatsby owned the yellow car that killed Myrtle at the former's gas station. Unless I am mistaken, Tom had conveyed this news to George, when the latter paid a visit to his East Egg mansion in the novel. The movie featured flashbacks of Gatsby's life in North Dakota and his years spent with a millionaire named Dan Cody. But Gatsby's father did not make an appearance near the end of the movie (for which I am utterly grateful). Did these changes bother me? Nope, they did not. I was too busy admiring the energy that Luhrmann injected into Fitzgerald's tale. This was especially apparent in the pivotal scene featuring Gatsby and Tom's showdown over Daisy's affections in a Plaza Hotel suite. The scene crackled with emotions and an energy that seemed to be either lacking or at best, muted, in other adaptations. More importantly, Luhrmann and Pearce's screenplay finally lifted a fog and allowed me to fully understand and appreciate Fitzgerald's tale for the first time. I am afraid that the previous two adaptations (1974 and 2000) had bored me to the point that the emotions and theme behind the story had failed to elude me in the past. And that is the best part of Luhrmann's adaptation. For the first time, I finally understood the pathetic nature of the Jay Gatsby/Daisy Buchanan love story. And I am being complimentary.

A movie review would not be complete with a discussion on the performances. Leonardo DiCaprio became the fifth actor to portray Jay Gatsby aka James Gatz. And as usual, he was magnificent. In fact, I believe his Gatsby was the best I have ever seen on screen. He managed to maintain the character's mystery in the movie's first half without eliminating any of the character's strong emotions. Despite the attempt to transform Nick Carraway into a Fitzgerald clone, I had no problems with Tobey Maguire's portrayal of the character. In fact, he did an excellent job of conveying both Nick's observant nature and emotional attachment to Gatsby, while injecting a bit of warm humor and slight goofiness in the role. I realize that Maguire and DiCaprio had been friends for over two decades. I suspect that friendship made it easy for the pair to convey the growing friendship between Nick and Gatsby.

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Carey Mulligan gave an exquisite performance as the quixotic Daisy Buchanan. Mulligan made it easy for viewers to understand how Gatsby fell so hard for her. She perfectly conveyed Daisy's superficial idealism and warmth. But Mulligan also skillfully allowed Daisy's more unpleasant side - her selfishness, mild snobbery and lack of courage - to ooze between the cracks in the character's facade. Joel Edgerton really impressed me in his portrayal of the brutish Tom Buchanan. In the actor's first scene, I felt as if he was laying it a bit thick in conveying the character's unpleasant nature. But Edgerton quickly grew into the role and portrayed Tom's brutality with more subtlety. He also did a great job in portraying the character's surprising talent for manipulation and genuine feelings for the doomed Myrtle.

For the role of Daisy's Louisville friend and golfer Jordan Baker, Luhrmann chose Australian-born stage-trained actress named Elizabeth Debicki for the role. And she did a pretty damn good job. In fact, I thought Debicki did a solid job of conveying Jordan's fast-living and cynical personality with great skill. Isla Fisher knocked it out of the ballpark as the fun-loving Myrtle Fisher. Not only did she gave a first-rate portrayal of Myrtle's garishness and warmth, but also the character's grasping ambition and desperation to escape from her stagnant and dull marriage to gas station owner George. Myrtle is not highly regarded by many Fitzgerald fans. But Fisher made it easy for me to feel some sparks of pity toward the latter's situation regarding her marriage to George. Speaking of the latter, "THE GREAT GATSBY" marked the third period drama in which I have seen Jason Clarke. His role as the pathetic George Wilson is a bit smaller, but Clarke made the best of it, especially in two scenes. One scene featured Clarke perfectly conveying George's clumsy attempt to toady Tom for a business transaction regarding the latter's car. And in another, he did a beautiful job in portraying George's pathetic grief over a woman who had stopped loving him a long time ago. This movie also marked a reunion for Clarke and Edgerton. Both had appeared in "ZERO DARK THIRTY". I also want to point out Amitabh Bachchan's much talked about portrayal of Gatsby's gambling friend, Meyer Wolfshiem - a fictionalized take on gambler/gangster Arnold Rothstein. No only did the actor looked unusual, he gave a lively, yet brief performance that I found quite captivating. And Jack Thompson gave a quiet (almost speechless) and subtle performance as Nick's psychiatrist Dr. Walter Perkins. STAR WARS fans should take note that eleven years ago, Thompson portrayed Cliegg Lars - father to Edgerton's Owen Lars - in "STAR WARS: EPISODE II - ATTACK OF THE CLONES".

I am the last person who will ever claim that this latest "THE GREAT GATSBY" is perfect. Trust me, it is not. But it is a very entertaining film that I believe captured the emotions and theme behind F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel better than any previous adaptation. More importantly, director Baz Luhrmann injected style and energy not only into the story itself, but also its visual look and the first-rate performances from a cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. I would have no qualms about watching this movie over and over again.


Is great Gatsby 2013 accurate? ›

The plot of the film is pretty much entirely faithful to the novel, but Luhrmann and his co-screenwriter Craig Pearce do cut out one of the side stories: the affair between Nick and Jordan Baker, the friend of Daisy's from Louisville who is a well-known golfer.

Is The Great Gatsby worth watching? ›

Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby is a failure. It's a poor adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's powerful text and it's tragic that such a great novel has been bastardised, becoming a flashy, CGI blockbuster. March 17, 2021 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

Why is The Great Gatsby such a good movie? ›

Overall, "The Great Gatsby" is a fantastically entertaining and enthralling film. It is horribly underrated as it is filled with awards worthy visuals, sets, costumes, direction, and performances. It is a great time at the movies for anyone that enjoys the classic novel or who haven't even heard of it.

Was The Great Gatsby movie a success? ›

The movie eventually arrived in May, serving as the opening-night film at Cannes. But greeted by mixed reviews, it never made it back to the top rungs of handicappers' lists, even though it is Luhrmann's most commercially successful release with $351 million in worldwide grosses.

Who found Gatsby's body? ›

Nick finds Gatsby's body floating in the pool and, while starting to the house with the body, the gardener discovers Wilson's lifeless body off in the grass.

Is Nick Carraway an alcoholic? ›

Nick Carraway is in a sanitarium.

In the film, Nick is writing from a sanitarium, where he's checked himself in sometime following his summer with Gatsby and has been diagnosed as a "morbid alcoholic," among other things.

Is The Great Gatsby difficult to understand? ›

For the most part, Gatsby is straightforward. It's got some funny 1920s turns of phrase, like "ecstatic cahoots" (8.46), but you're not going to run into too many unfamiliar words.

Is Gatsby or Tom Richer? ›

Fitzgerald makes it very clear that the wealth that Tom and Daisy has is superior to the wealth that Jay Gatsby has. Tom and Daisy were highly educated and came from money, while Gatsby got his money from selling illegal alcohol and throwing extravagant parties with the alcohol.

What criticism is The Great Gatsby? ›

Formalist criticism is a popular approach to The Great Gatsby and his other books.

Is Gatsby a hero or villain? ›

Gatsby is the eponymous hero of the book and is the main focus. However, although Gatsby has some qualities which are typically heroic, other aspects of his character are closer to the typical villain. Heroic traits: He is a self-made man.

What makes The Great Gatsby a masterpiece? ›

Despite being a commentary on a different age and people, Gatsby's story is as relevant today as it was when it was written. Because it explores universal themes — human follies, the hopelessness of societal constructs and man's struggle with time and fate.

Is Nick in love with Gatsby? ›

In that novel, Nick loves Gatsby, the erstwhile James Gatz of North Dakota, for his capacity to dream Jay Gatsby into being and for his willingness to risk it all for the love of a beautiful woman. In a queer reading of Gatsby, Nick doesn't just love Gatsby, he's in love with him.

Which The Great Gatsby movie is better? ›

All things considered, the most accurate adaptation of The Great Gatsby is the 2000 version. It had decent casting and acting, accurate dialogue, and little to no major plot changes from the original text.

Did Gatsby get a happy ending? ›

Therefore, although Gatsby dies by the end of the novel, he has a happier ending because he breaks his destructive cycle of obsession over Daisy, while Nick talks more about change than actually changing, thus resulting in a more sad ending without moral growth.

Why was The Great Gatsby Cancelled? ›

Controversial Content

The Great Gatsby was controversial due to the sex, violence, and language it contains. The extramarital affair between Jay Gatsby, the mysterious millionaire in the novel, and his elusive love interest, Daisy Buchanan, is alluded to but never described in intimate detail.

Who kisses Gatsby? ›

While all five are at the Buchanans' house, Tom leaves the room to speak with his mistress on the phone and Daisy boldly kisses Gatsby, declaring her love for him.

Why couldn't Nick come to a funeral? ›

Why couldn't Nick get anyone to come to Gatsby's funeral? Gatsby had no close friends. All of the party people were too shallow to hardly even meet him.

What does Gatsby's death symbolize? ›

Gatsby's death is significant because it represents the horrible end to the dream that he built his whole life, even though in a way he already died when he lost his chance to be with Daisy after the fight with Tom.

Is Nick Carraway queer? ›

Fitzgerald scholars and fans of The Great Gatsby frequently interpret Nick Carraway as being gay or bisexual. Many queer interpretations of Nick's character hinge on a scene at the end of Chapter 2, in which an elevator lever is used as a phallic symbol.

What mental illness does Nick Carraway have? ›

Also, it should be noted that though Nick was in a sanitarium, he wasn't "crazy." He was diagnosed with things such as anxiety and depression.

Who kills Gatsby in the book? ›

The most famous murder in American literature is that of the titular hero in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, published in 1925. Jay Gatsby is shot to death in the swimming pool of his mansion by George Wilson, a gas-station owner who believes Gatsby to be the hit-and-run driver who killed his wife, Myrtle.

What grade level should read The Great Gatsby? ›

This book's Lexile measure is 1070L and is frequently taught in the 12th grade. Students in these grades should be reading texts that have reading demand of 1185L through 1385L to be college and career ready by the end of Grade 12.

What age should read The Great Gatsby? ›

The story is based on a classic American novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald and is best suited to viewers over 15 years because of intense adult themes and violence.

What is the biggest problem in The Great Gatsby? ›

Gatsby's tragic flaw is his inability to wake up from his dream of the past and accept reality. His obsession with recapturing his past relationship with Daisy compels him to a life of crime and deceit.

Is Daisy rich Gatsby? ›

Daisy Buchanan, born Daisy Fay, is from a wealthy family in Louisville, Kentucky. Popular and beautiful, she was courted by several officers during World War I.

How rich is Gatsby in today's money? ›

To be sure, many are pure products of the imagination.
The Forbes Fictional Fifteen.
RankNameNet Worth
12.Charles Foster Kane1 billion
13.Cruella De Vil875 million
14.Gordon Gekko650 million
15.Jay Gatsby600 million
11 more rows
13 Sept 2002

How rich would Jay Gatsby be today? ›

According to the Forbes “Fictional 15” of 2010, a list of the richest fictional characters by net worth, Jay Gatsby is ranked #14 on the list with an estimated net worth of $1 billion. However, GoBankingRates' investigation reveals that Jay Gatsby's spending on high-ticket items threatens his future rankings.

Why was The Great Gatsby unpopular? ›

As quoted in a New York Times retrospective of The Great Gatsby, critics at the time were rather cold, saying that Gatsby was "clever and brilliantly surfaced but not the work of a wise and mature novelist." Other reviewers felt it was "a little slack, a little soft, more than a little artificial, [falling] into the ...

Who is the true villain in The Great Gatsby? ›

Tom Buchanan is the main antagonist in The Great Gatsby . An aggressive and physically imposing man, Tom represents the biggest obstacle standing between Gatsby and Daisy's reunion. For much of the novel Tom exists only as an idea in Gatsby's mind.

What is the moral of the story in Gatsby? ›

The moral of The Great Gatsby is that the American Dream is illusory. Gatsby's dream was to be with Daisy, but even after he attained her lifestyle, he was unable to be with her. Meanwhile, the people that had money, like Daisy and Tom, could not achieve happiness either.

Is Gatsby a black man? ›

Though Harlem is not mentioned once in the novel, the music emanating from the period is what the novel is built around. “Jay Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald's opulent playboy hero, was a black man. Fitzgerald litters his novel with signifiers that suggest Gatsby to be black, although he “passes” as white.

Is Gatsby a liar? ›

Scott Fitzgerald's book, “The Great Gatsby” lies all the time. He lies about the origin of his wealth, he lies about his love life, he even lies about reading the great books in his library. Gatsby lies so much, and so frequently, that he could no more find the truth than discover humility.

Is Gatsby a victim? ›

Gatsby is also a classical tragic hero in that he is the victim of forces outside himself – Daisy's carelessness and Tom's hard malice. While one might agree with Daisy that Gatsby asks too much, pathos is still felt at Daisy's abandonment of him and at his lonely death.

What is the most important message in The Great Gatsby? ›

The moral of The Great Gatsby is that the American Dream is ultimately unattainable. Jay Gatsby had attained great wealth and status as a socialite; however, Gatsby's dream was to have a future with his one true love, Daisy.

What are 3 symbols in The Great Gatsby? ›

  • The Green Light. Situated at the end of Daisy's East Egg dock and barely visible from Gatsby's West Egg lawn, the green light represents Gatsby's hopes and dreams for the future. ...
  • The Valley of Ashes. ...
  • The Eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg.

What is the most significant symbol in The Great Gatsby? ›

Gatsby's dream, personified in the green light, is the primary symbol of the novel and ties into Fitzgerald's overwhelming critique of the American Dream throughout the novel.

Is there homosexuality in The Great Gatsby? ›

The elevator scene in The Great Gatsby is the quintessential depiction of Nick's homoerotic affect and his sometimes-closeted signs of homosexuality. F. Scott Fitzgerald weaves the theme of homosexuality everywhere throughout The Great Gatsby by outwardly displaying the narrator's, Nick Carraway, homoerotic affect.

Who is Gatsby secretly in love with? ›

Relationship 1: Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby. The relationship at the very heart of The Great Gatsby is, of course, Gatsby and Daisy, or more specifically, Gatsby's tragic love of (or obsession with) Daisy, a love that drives the novel's plot.

Why is Nick Carraway in a mental hospital? ›

First, Luhrmann made the curious decision to begin the story with Nick Carraway (our first-person narrator played by Tobey Maguire) writing in a patient's journal after ending up in a mental hospital due to “morbid alcoholism, fits of anger, insomnia.” According to Mike Hogan's (Executive Arts and Entertainment Editor ...

Did Leonardo DiCaprio read The Great Gatsby? ›

The first time Leonardo DiCaprio read “The Great Gatsby,” he was instantly intrigued by the love story at the heart of the novel. But years later, when he re-visited F. Scott Fitzgerald's Jazz Age cocktail, he found himself appreciating the book on a whole different level.

Is Gatsby rich or poor? ›

Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel The Great Gatsby. The character is an enigmatic nouveau riche millionaire who lives in a luxurious mansion on Long Island where he often hosts extravagant parties and who allegedly gained his vast fortune by illicit bootlegging during prohibition in the United States.

Which Great Gatsby movie is closest to the novel? ›

The Great Gatsby movie 2013

The newer Gatsby isn't terrible as a movie, in that it does tell essentially the story of the novel. The script uses all of the plot and even uses some Fitzgerald's original dialog.

How did Nick react to Gatsby's death? ›

Nick is struck by the bitter injustice of Gatsby's solitary death. Despite all the people who found their way to Gatsby's parties, not one, with the exception of a man known only as "Owl Eyes," bothered to make an appearance at his funeral (and he only made it to the gate after the services ended).

What were Gatsby's last words? ›

The last line of Gatsby reads: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

What is the irony of the ending of The Great Gatsby? ›

Gatsby's death is a moment of irony because he is still waiting for Daisy to call him so they can be together, but he does not realize that Daisy and her husband have already reconciled with one another.

What book is Great Gatsby banned? ›

"Gatsby," "Invisible Man" and "Carried" were all banned on the grounds of sexual references and explicit language. The board cited "Catch-22" for descriptions of violence in its banned. For "Caged Bird," the board based its ban on descriptions of sexual abuse and "anti-white sentiments."

Who is a modern day Gatsby? ›

The choice makes perfect sense, since Jay-Z is the modern-day Gatsby. From their humble beginnings to their alleged political and gangster affiliations, see the numerous similarities between rap mogul Jay-Z and F. Scott Fitzgerald's nouveau-riche man of mystery, Jay Gatsby.

WHO calls Gatsby at the end? ›

The Scene Where Jay Gatsby Dies

One difference between the movie and the book is that in the movie, just as Jay was diving into the pool, he hears the phone ring. A servant answers the phone, and Jay is certain that it's Daisy.

What is the most accurate Great Gatsby movie? ›

All things considered, the most accurate adaptation of The Great Gatsby is the 2000 version. It had decent casting and acting, accurate dialogue, and little to no major plot changes from the original text.

What is inaccurate in The Great Gatsby? ›

Factual errors

The tenor saxophonist at the Gatsby's mansion party is holding the saxophone incorrectly. The proper way to hold a saxophone is with the left hand on top and the right hand on the bottom. The player in the film is holding the saxophone with the right hand on top and the left hand on the bottom.

Is Nick Carraway reliable or unreliable? ›

Carraway's narration of the American dream found its way into countless high school classrooms. Although many modern critics today consider Carraway an unreliable narrator, the book is commonly taught emphasizing his reliability.

Is The Great Gatsby an accurate reflection of the 1920s? ›

While The Great Gatsby captures the exuberance of the 1920s, it's ultimately a portrayal of the darker side of the era, and a pointed criticism of the corruption and immorality lurking beneath the glitz and glamour.

What was Gatsby's biggest mistake? ›

Gatsby's tragic flaw is his inability to wake up from his dream of the past and accept reality. His obsession with recapturing his past relationship with Daisy compels him to a life of crime and deceit.

Who is the most misunderstood character in The Great Gatsby? ›

Out of all the characters in the book, Daisy is the least understood. Fingers point at her as a villain, some as a pitiful woman. Although most readers think of her as evil and two-faced, we must think of the age when The Great Gatsby was written.

Which character in The Great Gatsby is the most morally corrupt? ›

Daisy is corrupt in The Great Gatsby along with her husband, Tom Buchanan. Daisy is a corrupt character through her selfish actions and criminal activities.

Who is Nick Carraway in love with? ›

This inner conflict is symbolized throughout the book by Nick's romantic affair with Jordan Baker. He is attracted to her vivacity and her sophistication just as he is repelled by her dishonesty and her lack of consideration for other people.

Is Gatsby love or money? ›

Scott Fitzgerald as a love story, there is doubt as to whether or not Gatsby was actually in love. As a man obsessed with wealth and social standing, Gatsby had little space in his mind, let alone his heart, for anything else. The paper focuses on issues of wealth and social standing as presented in The Great Gatsby.

Why is Gatsby controversial? ›

The most notable was in 1987 when the book was officially challenged at the Baptist College of South Carolina, due to its sexual references and profane language. Other reasons cited to challenge or ban The Great Gatsby are due to its content of extra-marital affairs, or adultery, bootlegging and violence.

Which is an example of irony from The Great Gatsby? ›

In perhaps one of the great ironies of the novel, Daisy kills Myrtle when Myrtle runs in front of Gatsby's car. It is a hit and run. The irony is that the wife kills her husband's mistress without knowing that it's his mistress. This irony leads the novel toward the conclusion.


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