The Great Gatsby

by Andrea Elizabeth

Last night I watched the Dicaprio remake of The Great Gatsby.

My English class didn’t read it like all the other ones did. I don’t remember what we read instead. I saw the Redford version around 30 years ago. My impressions from the remake:

Very visually intriguing, from the director of Moulin Rouge.

Reminded me a lot of Wuthering Heights, which I have read, after I astrally projected myself into the Lawrence Olivier/Merle Oberon movie when I was a kid. There are a few movies I’ve done that with. The first was Gone With the Wind at age 8. Another was The Univinted, around the same time, and Audrey Hepburn’s War and Peace. There are many more that I very closely related to, but did not forget this alternate reality called real life so completely. The next time I remember it happening, when I was so completely devastated while separated from my ex-husband to almost the point of divorce when I was around 25, was while watching Michael Keaton’s Pacific Heights. I did not lose myself in either version of The Great Gatsby.

I was depressed by the first viewing in my 20’s though. I’ve gotten over it since then. So last night I objectively observed that Gatsby is sort of a Christ Incarnation. He left the Father, in a manner of speaking, to be Incarnated in his love for us. We were not worthy, but he made our lives better. Daisy’s husband decided to treat her better, and she remembered his good side. Gatsby saved her from the punishment for her sins. I suppose it’s penal substitution, but that’s how America understood it the ’20’s. And he was baptized into death after giving his life’s confession. He waited for Daisy to join him but she didn’t. He was also poor and left to build her a mansion just across the water. I’m wondering how the scene where he leaves her waiting earlier on is related. Maybe it’s because we do get the sense of being abandoned by God and give up and leave sometimes.

This is all cloaked in corruption, but maybe that’s Fitzgerald’s way of describing Christ entering the human condition. Another Protestant explanation.

Orthodox believe Christ suffering death existentially saved us from death. What is not assumed is not saved. He joined with our death, and we will join in His resurrection.

Orthodox also believe that human nature is not naturally corrupt. Christ’s human nature was the same as ours, except without sin. Read St. Maximus’s Ambigua to understand his experience of being cloaked in human existence.

Perhaps Fitzgerald didn’t see debauchery as totally corrupting people either. Leaving Gatsby in the lurch did for him though.