So I watched the Great Gatsby last Thursday night. I have only read half of the book, and know people consider it "The Great Novel" but I went to the movie (and it was with my roommies, the last outing we would have together before departing ways).
It was okay, I know the book is just 100Xs better, so I will take time to read it. The soundtrack is beautiful, but not in the movie, and I love Lana del Rey's song "Young and Beautiful" and Florence and the Machine's song "Over the Love" which are both in the trailer and really highlight the struggles in the movie. Last night and this morning when I was listening to the songs, I started to think about the characters, and while they are experiencing "first class problems" their struggles really can relate to anyone from any walk of life. (I am taking this from the movie mostly, it might be slightly different from the book.) I guess I should say SPOILERS in case I say something that is only in the movie and not in the book. I hope most of it is from the book as well.
George Wilson: He sees his life as complete (wife and small business) and does not look around at the people in his life, he is focused on keeping the life he has. When this life starts to crumble, he is going to move them to try again. He has a white picket fence image in his mind and he will do whatever it has to take to make sure this comes true. When it is taken from him, he finds someone to blame, yet he still doesn't see the whole picture.
Myrtle Wilson: She is searching for more, she wants nice things and a bigger white fence than her husband can give her. She is fine with doing whatever it takes to have everything. She is driven to despair when she is going to be removed from the life she has built up. She fights tooth and nail to get it back and looses everything in the end.
Jordan Baker: She is talented, beautiful, and famous, she sees nothing outside of her bubble unless she is directly put into the situation. She is content with what her life is, she desires no one to control her, but will orchestrate others lives to their fancies. She sees all but does not interfere even when she sees the train-wreck that is to come.
Tom Buchanan: He wants love, lust, fame, respect, multiple women, ultimately control. He wants control of everything he owns and desires. When he wants to know if Daisy loves him, it is really control, because if she loves him, he can control her. The scene in the Plaza Hotel is a power struggle between him and Gatsby (in his eyes) over Daisy. When everything is falling apart he finds a way to gain that control.
Nick Carraway: He is enthralled with the glamour he is seeing, but puts the front that he doesn't want it, yet he does. He is obsessed with the idea but will not push himself into the life afraid to loose it or to be rejected from it. When it all fades, he becomes mad and obsessed with Gatsby, seeing him as the pinnacle man, the most honest. He doesn't understand what truly destroyed them all, and his need for sanity and insight. He sees all the corruption and knows all of the secrets, but gives no advice or tries to give sense to the craziness ensuring, he just embraces it and continues.
Daisy Buchanan: She plays the ignorant fool throughout and while she might be bored with life, she is tossed to and fro between the craziness of the life she lives. She knows the past cannot be changed, and she just wants both lives, the love with Gatsby, and the stability of Tom. She choose money and realizes the unhappiness that comes with that, but sees the stability of it and prestige. She loves both men for differing reasons. She is ignorant of the choice she needs to make and allows life to make it for her.
Jay Gatsby: He craves the past, he makes a whole life to please a woman. He has the parties to see her and when he does meet with her again, he is determined to live the past. He is driven mad with the idea of he and Daisy living together again, he desires control of love. Life has not been very kind, so he is determined it will be once he and Daisy are together, that money is the answer to their love blossoming.
It is easy to relate to every character's struggles, and since it is has no spiritual themes, it is easy to see the sin each person is struggling with: greed, lust, adultery, etc. and the answer is "Jesus!"
But if we strip down to the general struggle, I know I experience these struggles in my life as well, even with Christ in my life.
George Wilson: I have a life I enjoy and I don't see the suffering around me. I want this life to be the way I want it, I want God to fit in my life.
Myrtle Wilson: I want everything and God as well. I will run towards the things I desire and won't realize the loss that can ensue because I am running towards things and not God.
Jordan Baker: I have everything, I don't need to pursue any relationship, let alone one with God, I go to him when I am in need, but I am not right now. I see people around me hungering for God, but I wont' tell them unless they directly ask me.
Tom Buchanan: I want control in my life. I am not okay when my life is out of control and I assume it means I need to take back control.
Nick Carraway: I see how others experience life with God and I want it, so I hang around them, not really trying to get that relationship with God, but to just figure out how their life is so perfect. I don't really see the flaws in the plans. I see the need for God in my life, but I am okay with just watching others.
Daisy Buchanan: I am bored with life and will indulge in whatever is right in front of me. I indulge in sins, and again remain ignorant to the sins I am committing and will not fully repent of them. When confronted with my problems I can get overwhelmed and will retreat to what is safe. I will not step out for my faith whatsoever.
Jay Gatsby: There are times when I was really in-tuned and passionate about God, and I want to go back to those times, I want the past with God, not what he could do in the future. I try to build up my faith so that we can go back and experience life as we did. I also want people around me to be the same, to either be wiser, faithful, the same because I like them that way. The future is scary and unknown, the past is safe and secure.
Whether or not we have faith, we struggle with the same things just with slightly different circumstances that fit into this mold of desires and problems.
The two songs mentioned above are what really got me thinking about this entire story:
Lana del Rey's song "Young and Beautiful" is asking the age old question: Will you still love me when I'm no longer young and beautiful. We all question if the person we love loves us beyond our beauty, that when we grow old we will still love one another. We all get a little damaged along the way, and we wonder if those we love will stay beside us in the tougher times. We even question God if he will leave us when we mess up. Even when we don't feel beautiful, will God still see us as beautiful? It even says "Dear Lord, please when I get to heaven, please let me bring my man? When he comes, please tell me that you'll let him in. Father tell me if you can, all that grace, all that body, all that face, makes me want to party. He's my sun, he makes me shine like diamonds." This is obviously about the man she loves coming to heaven, even if he hasn't been all that good. The person doesn't even see that God is the light, the man she desires is but a shimmer compared to the love God blazes upon us. He makes us more beautiful than we can imagine. But we still worry about those on Earth loving us when we physically start to fade with time.
Florence and the Machine's song "Over the Love" is about trying to save our love "with an ocean in the way." We cry over the love of you. The music is haunting and there is a yearning, a yearning to be with our love and to save them from the disasters of this world. We want to go back to the past and live in that. But we can't, we see the change in them and cannot change back.
God did not create us to have perfect lives where everything we desire, both bad and good, is granted and we can live out own lives. Because then we would never see our depravity and our need for him and Jesus Christ. The quote below really speaks to the Great Gatsby and our own struggles we face:
“Still He seeks the fellowship of His people, and sends them both sorrows
and joys in order to detach their love from other things and attach it to Himself.” - J.I Packer