The Great Gatsby Movie vs Book Essay

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The Great Gatsby is a classic 1925 novel by the American writer Francis Scott Fitzgerald. The novel is a critically acclaimed representation of the American Dream, the hopelessness of social constructs, and the struggle to achieve prosperity. Fitzgerald explores the impossibility of recapturing the past and how it substantially impacts the future. The narrator of the story is Nick Carraway, a young World War I veteran from Minnesota who comes to New York in search of a better future as he observes other characters whose lives contrast with his own. The novel was adapted into a movie by Baz Luhrman as the director. The movie was officially released in 2013, featuring various Hollywood stars, including Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby and Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway. The director did an incredible job of bringing the classical storyline to life with an astonishing display of 3D technology. Nonetheless, putting together a movie based on a hugely acclaimed literary work with graceful lines, phrases and dialogues were quite challenging. Although, The Great Gatsby Movie and book portrayed similarities in coverage of class difference and the hollowness of the American Dream, the two adaptations varied regarding characters and action sequences.

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The character of Nick Carraway is altered in the movie to give readers a deeper insight into the characters’ experiences and predicament in a shorter version. To provide a suitable setting for Nick Caraway’s narration, the director introduces him as a broken figure working with a doctor to recover from his alcohol troubles (Anushirvani & Alinezhadi, 2016). This demeanor varies significantly from the character in the book, which is most careful and considerate. Although this characterization seems distasteful, it gives Nick’s narration a suitable framework. In the novel, Nick claims, “I have been drunk just twice in my life,” which is different from the movie, which portrays him as a struggling alcoholic in denial (Fitzgerald, 1925). Perdikaki (2018) notes that Luhrmann presents the idea that Nick writes The Great Gatsby and even shows him writing the text by hand, typing, and compiling the complete manuscript. However, although the idea that Nick writes the book comes from the novel, Fitzgerald does not dive further into the process. In the movie, Nick first writes the title as just Gatsby and eventually adds the phrase ‘the Great” by hand.

Similarly, the character of the maid in the book is cut off from the scenes in the movie. In the movie, Nick seems financially distraught compared to his wealthy neighbors. Therefore, it is pretty easy to assume that Nick would not afford the luxury of a domestic worker. However, in the book, he refers to employing a Finnish woman who helped him with most of his household work. Nick narrates that he hired a “Finnish woman who made (his) bed and cooked breakfast and muttered Finnish wisdom to herself over the electric stove.” (Fitzgerald, 1925). The maid makes several appearances in the book but is completely cut off from the film. Successively, in the novel, Ella Kaye, a scheming woman, manages to steal the inheritance of Dan Cody, a wealthy and drunkard yacht owner.

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Conversely, in the movie, Cody’s wealth is inherited by his family (Perdikaki, 2018). Likewise, the character of Jordan in the film is more mysterious and likable than in the book. Jordan Baker’s storyline is sped up in the movie because of time. Viewers learn about her abilities as an athlete almost in the opening scenes of the movies. However, Baker’s unlikely romance with Nick is cut off from the film, although the book only shows that they have a casual affection for each other.


Although it is pretty impossible to put together an entire novel’s sequences into a two-hour movie, there are apparent similarities between the Great Gatsby movie and the book. In both movie and the book, there is rich figurative speech that emphasizes the contrast in lifestyles and outlooks on life between the different characters. The noble and romantic dream is hugely contrasted by the moral corruption presented in the characters of Tom ad Daisy. According to Anushirvani & Alinezhadi (2016), both the writer and director portray a deep contrast between the lifestyles of the West and East. Nick Carraway finds it challenging to adapt to the East because he is from the West.

On the contrary, Tom and Daisy portray the materialistic and fashionable lifestyle representing the East. Through Nick’s observations and experiences, the perception that history could be reversed recurs in the novel and movie. Nick narrates, “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that no matter – tomorrow we will run faster.” (Luhrmann, 2013). Gatsby invites Daisy and Nick to his big house in both the book and the movie. He states, “I want you to come over to my house.” (Fitzgerald, 1925). Gatsby’s mansion represents his massive wealth and the class difference between the other characters.

In general, The Great Gatsby movie and the book share many similarities and differences that contribute to the compelling storyline, theme, and plot. Although, at the same time, most characters maintain much of their personalities from the book, the movie altered several scenes and interactions, possibly due to time and visual impressions of various settings. Nonetheless, the Great Gatsby remains a classic story about the varied perception of attaining the American Dream that is presented remarkably in both the book and the movie.

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  1. Anushirvani, A., & Alinezhadi, E. (2016). An analytical study of the 2013 cinematic adaptation of The great gatsby. International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences68, 73-85.
  2. Fitzgerald, F. (1925). The Great Gatsby (1st ed.). Charles Scribner’s Sons.
  3. Luhrmann, B. (2013). The Great Gatsby [Film]. Hollywood; Village Roadshow Pictures A&E.
  4. Perdikaki, K. (2018). Film adaptation as the interface between creative translation and cultural transformation: The case of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. JoSTrans: The Journal of Specialized Translation, (29).
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