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Get the most important and famous Jay Gatsby Quotes from The Great Gatsby. Below are famous lines and details about the male lead as his quest for the American Dream in this easy classic book by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

You’ll be able to easily read and use these quotes for academic or personal use, such as essays, presentations, social media posts, or just to get more insight into the book. Let’s get literary!

f. scott fitzgerald, the great gatsby held in front of bookshelves.
Penguin Vitae Edition of The Great Gatsby

Jay Gatsby Quotes from The Great Gatsby (With Chapter Numbers)

Since there are so many editions of this novel, I have annotated their chapter numbers instead of their page numbers. Beware of uncited quotes on the internet for this book, as I have seen incorrect quotes out there.

Quotes About Jay Gatsby and His American Dream

“Something in his leisurely movements and the secure position of his feet upon the lawn suggested that it was Mr. Gatsby himself, come out to determine what share was his of our local heavens.” (Chapter 1)

“He stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward – and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away. When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished, and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness.” (Chapter 1)

“Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.” (Chapter 1)

“If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away.” (Chapter 1)

“I was looking at an elegant young roughneck, a year or two over thirty, whose elaborate formality of speech just missed being absurd.” (Chapter 3)

“Somebody told me they thought he killed a man once.” (Chapter 3)

“I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby’s house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited – they went there.” (Chapter 3)

“He smiled understandingly—much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced—or seemed to face—the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.” (Chapter 3)

“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.” (Chapter 3)

“It was testimony to the romantic speculation [Gatsby] inspired that there were whispers about him from those who had found little that it was necessary to whisper about in this world.” (Chapter 3)

“He was never quite still; there was always a tapping foot somewhere or the impatient opening and closing of a handle.” (Chapter 4)

“He hurried the phrase ‘educated at Oxford,’ or swallowed it, or choked on it, as though it had bothered him now. And with this doubt, his whole statement fell to pieces, and I wondered if there wasn’t something a little sinister about him, after all.” (Chapter 4)

“But it wasn’t a coincidence at all. […] Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay.” (Chapter 4)

“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.” (Chapter 5)

“He hadn’t once ceased looking at Daisy, and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes. Sometimes, too, he stared around at his possessions in a dazed way, as though in her actual and astounding presence none of it was any longer real. Once he nearly toppled down a flight of stairs.” (Chapter 5)

“He had passed visibly through two states and was entering upon a third. After his embarrassment and his unreasoning joy he was consumed with wonder at her presence. He had been full of the idea so long, dreamed it right through to the end, waited with his teeth set, so to speak, at an inconceivable pitch of intensity. Now, in the reaction, he was running down like an over-wound clock.” (Chapter 5)

“Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one.” (Chapter 5)

“But there was a change in Gatsby that was simply confounding. He literally glowed; without a word or a gesture of exultation a new well-being radiated from him and filled the little room.” (Chapter 5)

“The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God—a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that—and he must be about His Father’s Business, the service of a vast, vulgar and meretricious beauty.” (Chapter 6)

“James Gatz – that was really, or at least legally, his name. He had changed it at the age of seventeen and at the specific moment that witnessed the beginning of his career – when he saw Dan Cody’s yacht drop anchor over the most insidious flat on Lake Superior.” (Chapter 6)

“I suppose he’d had the name ready for a long time, even then. His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people – his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all.” (Chapter 6)

“He wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was.” (Chapter 6)

“Out of the corner of his eye Gatsby saw that the blocks of the sidewalk really formed a ladder and mounted to a secret place above the trees – he could climb it, if he climbed alone, and once there he could suck on the pap of life, gulp down the incomparable milk of wonder.” (Chapter 6)

“His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.” (Chapter 6)

“He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy.” (Chapter 6)

“Gatsby and I in turn leaned down and took the small, reluctant hand. Afterward he kept looking at the child with surprise. I don’t think he had ever really believed in its existence before.” (Chapter 7)

“‘Oh, you want too much!’ she cried to Gatsby. ‘I love you now—isn’t that enough?'” (Chapter 7)

“No telephone phone message arrived […]I have an idea that Gatsby himself didn‘t believe it would come, and perhaps he no longer cared. If that was true he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream.” (Chapter 8)

“And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.” (Chapter 9)

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…” (Chapter 9)

“I wanted to get somebody for him. I wanted to go into the room where he lay and reassure him: ‘I’ll get somebody for you, Gatsby. Don’t worry. Just trust me and I’ll get somebody for you.”‘ (Chapter 9)


Quotes By Jay Gatsby About Himself, Love, Daisy, Parties, and More

“If you want anything just ask for it, old sport.” (Chapter 3)

“And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.” (Chapter 3)

“‘I’ll tell you God’s truth.’ His right hand suddenly ordered divine retribution to stand by. ‘I am the son of some wealthy people in the Middle West all dead now. I was brought up in America but educated at Oxford, because all my ancestors have been educated there for many years. It is a family tradition.'” (Chapter 4)

“I thought you ought to know something about my life. Ought to know something about me. I didn’t want you to think I was just some nobody.” (Chapter 4)

“Oh, hello, old sport[.]” (Chapter 5; however, “old sport” is said 45 times throughout)

“‘I did [inherit my money], old sport,’ he said automatically, ‘but I lost most of it in the big panic – the panic of the war. […] I was in the drug business and then I was in the oil business. But I’m not in either one now.'” (Chapter 5)

“I keep [the house] always full of interesting people, night and day. People who do interesting things. Celebrated people.” (Chapter 5)

“‘If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay,’ said Gatsby. ‘You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock.'” (Chapter 5)

“Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can!” (Chapter 6)

“‘Her voice is full of money,’ he said suddenly.” (Chapter 7)

“Just tell him the truth—that you never loved him—and it’s all wiped out forever.” (Chapter 7)

“‘Your wife doesn’t love you,’ said Gatsby. ‘She’s never loved you. She loves me.'” (Chapter 7)

“I can’t describe to you how surprised I was to find out I loved her, old sport. I even hoped for a while that she’d throw me over, but she didn’t, because she was in love with me too.” (Chapter 8)

“What was the use of doing great things if I could have a better time telling her what I was going to do?” (Chapter 8)

Unraveling the Character Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby

Plot Overview and Jay Gatsby’s Role

The Great Gatsby is the short classic book by F. Scott Fitzgerald novel in which a Midwestern, optimistic outsider, Nick Carraway, is thrust into the orbit of the wealthy yet empty life of East-coaster, Jay Gatsby.

It’s a classic love story in which Gatsby attempts to rekindle love with a former girlfriend named Daisy Buchanan, who is now unhappily married to Tom Buchanan.

The novel explores Gatsby’s desire to attain the American Dream in the setting of 1920s New York (the Jazz Age / Roaring Twenties). This was a time and place when money and excess were especially important to people.

A tragic hero, Jay Gatsby is one of the most famous characters in literature. He is both aspirational and deeply flawed.


Jay Gatsby in Literary Symbols

In The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby is associated with the following literary symbols:

  • The American Dream: Gatsby relentlessly pursues it to a fault, particularly through love.
  • The Green Light: This is a symbol of Jay Gatsby’s aspirations, particularly Daisy’s, which are out of reach. Green also symbolizes money.
  • Gatsby’s parties: This is a symbol of wealth, materialism, and superficiality in his life.

Jay Gatsby and Themes of The Great Gatsby

In The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby’s words (and those said about him) show his desire for everything the American Dream encompasses, from massive wealth and status to ideal love. They underscore the following themes in this good book recommendation:

  • love
  • wealth
  • status
  • the American Dream
  • success
  • happiness
  • hope
  • illusion and disillusion
  • obsession

TIPS

If you’re looking to pair this book with an adaptation, the 2013 adaptation of The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio is very well done, with lots of glittering eye candy! And, if you want to immerse yourself in an audio version, Audible has one that’s read well by actor Jake Gyllenhaal. (It was an Audie Award Finalist.)

About Author F. Scott Fitzgerald

about

illustration of f. scott fitzgerald.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) was a famous American novelist, fiction writer, and essayist. His work was heavily influenced by the themes of the Jazz Age, including material wealth and social status, as well as his wife, Zelda Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald was also known for being part of the Lost Generation, a group of disillusioned American expatriate writers in Europe after World War I, including Ernest Hemingway.

Published in 1925, The Great Gatsby is often considered to be the “Great American Novel.” Also noteworthy is Fitzgerald’s final novel, 1934’s Tender is the Night.

Learn more at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Gatsby’s most famous quote?

The most famous quote by Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby is: “Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can!” Gatsby is obsessed with rekindling his past romance with Daisy Buchanan, which represents the American Dream.

How does Gatsby describe himself?

In The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby describes himself by his love of parties showing his wealth during the Jazz Age: “And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”

What are some quotes about Gatsby’s illusion?

In The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway says this about Jay Gatsby’s illusion about Daisy: “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.”

What are Gatsby’s quotes about hope?

In The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby says this about hope: “I can’t describe to you how surprised I was to find out I loved her, old sport. I even hoped for a while that she’d throw me over, but she didn’t, because she was in love with me too

How does Gatsby see Daisy?

In The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby sees Daisy as a symbol of high social class. He shows this in his quote: “Her voice was full of money.”

Conclusion

Jay Gatsby quotes from The Great Gatsby (and those said about him) show his desire for everything the American Dream encompasses, from massive wealth and status to ideal love. They underscore the themes of obsessive, unrequited, idealized love to the perpetual desire for more. He remains one of the most tragically flawed characters in literature.

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