The Great Gatsby: Chapter 5

Gatsby and DaisyOne of the interesting elements of the novel as a whole is that the plot structure mirrors that of a Shakespearean Tragedy: Chapter 1 is the Exposition; Chapters 2-4 is the Rising Action; Chapter 5 is the Turning Point; Chapters 6-8 is the Falling Action; and Chapter 9 is the Resolution. Like all great tragedies, death incites the Turning Point; however, The Great Gatsby‘s Turning Point is not the death of a person, but the death of Gatsby’s dream. Additionally, it is not a quick death but a slow hiss as the inflated illusory dream meets reality.

Fitzgerald shows this slow hiss as Nick observes Gatsby’s reaction to finally being with Daisy:

Chapter 5

As I went over to say goodbye I saw that the expression of bewilderment had come back into Gatsby’s face, as though a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness. Almost five years! 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.

Gatsby was the epitome of the rags-to-riches story; he was able to start with nothing and achieve great wealth through perseverance and opportunity (albeit illegal opportunity). He envisioned who he would one day become, but he made the mistake of placing the success of all of his dreams on the shoulders of a woman who could never carry that kind of weight. After all, she is merely human and could never live up to the perfection Gatsby had imagined.

Please, feel free to share your thoughts or your favorite quotes from this chapter in the comment section below.


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