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Do you think Great Gatsby was inspired by Wuthering Heights?

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Michael I asked this on the Gatsby board and got some interesting responses. What do you guys think? It seems like Fitzgerald used it as a base for his story of rich folk in New York.

Also in Nick Carraway and Mr Lockwood.

message 2: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy I do see it now that you brought it to my attention! Daisy marrying someone for money and status rather than love, the jilted man becoming a self-made wealthy man to win the woman back, the glorious amount of selfishness... Yep, it is there. Although, I think Heathcliff and Catherine were much more spiteful than Daisy, Gatsby, and Tom were.

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Lei Miralles A little bit, i guess. but heathcliff and catherine's love was so much deeper than the one-sided love story of Daisy and Gatsby.

Nicholas Kendall When I read the discussion title I thought what on earth is this about, but you do raise a small but valid argument. And I only say small because if you look deep enough into any book(s) you will always find similarities that aren't intended (not saying you thought Fitzgerald intended to make the base of Wuthering Heights.)

Yes, I do believe that Fitzgerald most likely drew inspiration from Wuthering Heights, although I believe this doesn't take away from The Great Gatsby's credibility as a novel and indeed it serves as a reminder of recurring themes throughout the ages.
As mentioned earlier, the characters of Gatsby were not as spiteful as those in Wuthering Heights, rather they were careless and ignorant, although I feel this reflects the era and societies they respectably belonged to.
Also, I think Fitzgerald made it more accessible to the broader audience by creating a more amiable protagonist through Gatsby, which is one of the criticisms some form about Wuthering Heights.
It may also be one of the reasons the connections between the two prose are often overlooked.
Thanks again for opening up this discussion, I've been wanting to compare the pair for a long time!

Denise L Very different reads for me. To me, Catherine seemed to be a little deeper in spirit than light Daisy, Heathcliff is dark, scary and bitter and while Gatsby might be a bit bitter he tried really hard to be a lovely person. Catherine dies a woeful death in Heathcliff's arms..Daisy drives off for an extended trip with her amoral husband while Gatsby is murdered for her crime..
In my opinion, of the 4 characters, Gatsby is most likable.

Katherine Love both books and never made the connection. I see the parallels and I agree with the comments that Heathcliff and Catherine's love had more depth. Maybe for Gatsby, but Daisy's love (if it should be called that) can't be compared to wuthering heights tragic, epic affair. Interesting. I'll have to re read with the connection in mind.

Michael Great comment Elle.

I don't think Gatsby has the depth or complexity of Wuthering Heights, but like you say, it reflects that era and class of people. Wuthering Heights was in a more brutal setting, not in the comfort of New York.

Goddess Of Blah nope. I didn't like any of the Bronte sisters books but the Great Gatsby was ok.

message 10: by Ian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ian I think there are some similarities beyond the love story stuff - in both books, the narrator is not the main character and we only approach them through the opinions of others. I have read, though, that the major influence on F. Scott Fitzgerald adopting this approach was Joseph Conrad, whose novels like "Heart of Darkness" and "Lord Jim" take a similarly indirect approach to their central characters.

Carolina Morales I suppose there are very similar themes, but the fictional treatment is different.

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Hannah I'd say there are some definite similarities but I'm not sure if I'm noticing only now because I'm looking for them. It may be that the shared themes of social status and true love have shaped the character relations and basic plot to be similar in some respects. For example, both Gatsby and Heathcliff saught and achieved wealth and status change in the pursuit of true love, but it actually left them alone. Whilst being quite different novels, both illustrate the destructive power of love.

Marcy This struck me as providential, since just last night I watched the Gatsby film with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. I can see how you could make a coherent argument for this POV, but they don't strike me as terribly similar. As someone else noted,

"heathcliff and catherine's love was so much deeper than the one-sided love story of Daisy and Gatsby.

I read WH many years ago, and it was one of the sublime reading experiences of my life, a straight-thru 24 hour gulp when I never put the book down to eat or do anything else, but kept reading during necessary activities. FOr me it was the ultimate love story of such inense passion, and my inner romantic young girl related. Great Gatsby is more of a social commentary, to my mind.

Someone says that of all the characters in both books, Gatsby is the most likable. I was taken aback when Nick Carraway tells Gatsby he's worth more than all of them, or words to that effect, bc I trhought he was almost as culpable as Daisy in Myrtle's death, and he hardly gave it a thought, so obsessed was he with Daisy. Hmm....now that I reflect on his obsession with Daisy, I guess he does have a lot in common with Heathcliff. I'll have to think about it more, perhaps reread WH.

Victoria Huh. Very thought provoking! No wonder I liked them both so much :)

message 15: by Yves (new) - rated it 5 stars

Yves Fey I love both books, but don't feel the books are written from the same place at all, and social differences are such a standard plot I'm dubious about WH influencing Gatsby. Wuthering Heights is very raw and elemental, Gatsby poignant.

Michael For me it's more the little things that clicked first. Like when Jay Gatsby kept his futile vigil outside of Tom and Daisy's house, which for me evoked Heathcliff's vigil outside of Cathy and Edgar's house.

I'm not saying that Fitzgerald ripped off Emily Bronte, but there are many similarities which made me stop and think. Are they worth expounding upon? Maybe not. But the fact two novels with immortal literary reputations share similarities is pretty interesting to me.

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Hannah For early classics I wonder that they did not have the same plagiarism standards as we do today. I've noticed in a number of classics, particularly when I was recently reading Frankenstein that there were often deliberate parallels, lines, and references to other famous literary works of the time. It seemed almost a mark of honour to be influenced by or to have read such authors.

Obviously, The Great Gatsby is much later but I do wonder it might be that complete originality was not such a requisite for success like it is now.

Joanna YES! I have always thought this. The characters are all flawed in some way which makes the whole mood of the book distinctly melancholy, and culminates in a generally unsatisfying ending for the characters. Catherine and Daisy are very different characters but they both learn that by choosing the 'wrong' man and stubbornly sticking with him, they will hurt him, themselves, and the man they truly love. Nick and Mr Lockwood are different in that Nick is more of a narrator than Lockwood ever is, and is a much more central, and critical character. However they have similar attributes as narrators.

I don't necessarily think Fitzgerald even used W.Hs as influence; the books are very different in terms of plot and themes, but the overall message is similar between them. This happens in many books though, and could even be said for something like Pride and Prejudice Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Wuthering Heights. The outcomes are very different, but Heathcliffe and Darcy are both characters we love to hate and hate to love. I think this says something about the predictability of human nature, and the similarities between us, than between the books.

Anirudh Dhiman if seen from far it has bits and pieces which are similar to wuthering heights.

Sweta The style of writing, the treatment of the subject and the characterization is so different that I never found any similarities between these two.

Michael Oh okay, hmmm how about East of Eden? Instead of the Heathcliff and Cathy relationship that Fitzgerald borrowed from Wuthering Heights, Steinbeck seems to have been inspired by the dysfunctional generations of families theme in Wuthering Heights.

I wonder why these two guys never admitted being inspired by Wuthering Heights. At least Hemingway admitted it was one of his favourite novels.

Jaksen Michael wrote: "I asked this on the Gatsby board and got some interesting responses. What do you guys think? It seems like Fitzgerald used it as a base for his story of rich folk in New York.

Also in Nick Carrawa..."

I don't think WH inspired TGG. I think instead both writers were using a fairly common trope: girl marries money instead of true love. So true love now pines or works or mopes about (whatever, according to the story) and tries to get girl back. Is this not a fairly common theme in romance novels? And sometimes it's the man who marries for money while the poor girl left behind mopes or schemes or works to get him back?

Nothing wrong with tropes. They're kind of like themes that one often sees in literature, TV, movies, etc. Different authors just put a different spin on them in each new incarnation.

message 23: by Michael (last edited Apr 19, 2014 11:15PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Michael That's a good point.

Fitzgerald was no doubt a voracious reader who devoured all of the greats, and took influence from many of them. I'd like to think maybe subconsciously he was inspired in part by Wuthering Heights (along with Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky etc etc) and built on it his own vision and world. I do admire Fitzgerald for compacting this into what is essentially an extended short story. Sylvia Plath said it best that he chose his words in Gatsby with a "jewel cut precision".

message 24: by Eve (new) - rated it 1 star

Eve Quite possibly. Currently I'm studying both texts for AS Level English Literature and for assessment objective four, we have to compare and contrast these novels. So far, I've learnt about so many similarities that I believe 'The Great Gatsby' may have been inspired by 'Wuthering Heights'

message 25: by Mochaspresso (last edited Feb 21, 2016 07:05PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mochaspresso I think not, else we would have certainly heard of it by now. I've always learned/heard that TGG is very much a product of it's time and that was the primary inspiration. There is/was supposedly a list of novels that he thought were important and I don't recall that writers like the Brontes or even Jane Austen were on it.

I am curious, though. Has this ever been explored on a scholarly level?

message 26: by Mochaspresso (last edited Feb 21, 2016 07:06PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mochaspresso I googled and found an article about the list of essential reading books that he supposedly made.


Sarah Not sure that Fitzgerald was consciously influenced by Bronte, but I read both books this year and the similarities jumped out at me. I also read The Phantom of the Opera during this time and there's some connections there too, although PotO is the odd one out for reasons I will elaborate.

In all three stories the male lead is a charismatic, showy character who is obsessed with the female lead. She chooses another man - a boring fellow compared to the hero, and from a higher social strata - and the rejection prompts the first man to make some seriously destructive choices. The nature of those destructive choices are very different in each book, as are the settings and the personalities of the heroines.

All three leading men are Byronic heroes. Heathcliff is bitter because of his treatment as a black sheep by his adopted brother, and being rejected by Cathy when they were teenagers. Erik is bitter because people called him a monster, based on his condition, and he started to believe them. Gatsby, although he maintains a sanguine persona, is bitter because his whole life is a lie. Each man is driven by envy, and objectify their chosen woman.

Heathcliff and Gatsby both disappear for a while from the girl's life and reappear filthy rich, a worthy rival for the wealthy husband. Heathcliff is blatantly vengeful; Gatsby is driven by a childish, childlike need to recapture the past - he hates Tom but anger is not his main impetus. Erik doesn't live like a rich man, but he does get a very nice paycheck for terrorizing the opera managers, and his dazzling of Christine with his magic tricks can be compared to Gatsby's wooing Daisy with his rooms full of silk shirts.

The biggest difference is between the three young women.

Catherine is tempestuous, selfish, impulsive, and angry. She's smart enough to see injustice done to Heathcliff, but lacks the emotional maturity to comfort him or even stand up for him in any meaningful way. She is mad at the time of death. She's deep but not good.

Daisy has the opposite temperament from Cathy - airy, materialistic, childishly fascinated by every sparkling thing that crosses her path (the epigraph of the TGG, about the hopping man in the golden hat, accurately describes the way to her heart). Unlike Catherine, she's not angry - she almost seems incapable of feeling for herself; the whole confrontation in the hotel room is Tom and Gatsby ordering her what to feel, because she has no emotions of her own. But like Catherine, she is totally selfish.

And then there's the dark horse, Christine. Unlike the other two, Christine grew up poor and motherless, lost her father at a very young age, and has never been pampered or even paid much attention to. She seeks solace in her art and in her faith. She has compassion for both Erik and Raoul and wants to protect them from each other. For the whole story she thinks of those two rather than herself.

Wuthering Heights ends in madness and unforgiveness onto death. Gatsby ends with murder. Phantom ends with compassion.

And Christine's selflessness made all the difference.

message 28: by Carolina (last edited Nov 08, 2017 04:31AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Carolina Morales Sarah wrote: "Not sure that Fitzgerald was consciously influenced by Bronte, but I read both books this year and the similarities jumped out at me. I also read The Phantom of the Opera during this time and there..."

Whoa, Sarah, this analysis left me open mouthed! Congratulations on your insight.

It is my opinion both Daisy and Catherine suffered of some degree from Narsisistic Personality Disorder (selfish, entitled, social status driven, with poor empathy skills - Daisy is the archetypical somatic narcissist), while Christine could be seen as an empath (compassionate, kind, caring, selfless, protective of the ones she cherishes). But this is just another "think of characters as real people, with symptoms of a disorder" approach.

Sarah Carolina wrote: "Sarah wrote: "Not sure that Fitzgerald was consciously influenced by Bronte, but I read both books this year and the similarities jumped out at me. I also read The Phantom of the Opera during this ..."

Wow, thanks, Carolina! I think your diagnoses are spot-on.

message 30: by George (new)

George Meredith I wrote a piece about this 30 or so years ago...am looking for it now and if I find it I'll either post it or compress it!

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