The title The Great Gatsby immediately brings up not only the memory of a character, but the story of the famous book by Scott Fitzgerald. It seems even that there could be no other name to this novel, that maybe none other would capture its essence as simply but completely as The Great Gatsby. However, before settling for this title, Fitzgerald did have indeed 5 alternatives, each one related to a subject elaborated in the novel by the author. This shows how he did not simply right a story about a man, but also how he managed to merge different ideas into this single novel.
Among Ash-heaps and Millionaires refers superficially to the setting of the novel, East Egg and West Egg, where millionaires and nouveau-riche live and the dirty road to New York, where workers live. However, the title previews already the social criticism by Fitzgerald, and the contrast he makes between the millionaires way of living, luxury and exclusivity, while the lower working classes inhabit the sides of the roads in the middle of an ash valley, simbolically representing the moral and social decay of americans.
It cannot be denied the relevantness of this title, however it does change the focus of the novel from the main storyline with it’s characters to the social critiscism subtly but clearly present in it.
On the Road to West Egg is a title which refers to the process of accumulating wealth Gatsby went through in order to reach Daisy and properly woe her.
He went from a poor boy to a millionaire, not only for her, but to fullfil his child’s dream of being a proper gentleman. Though the title is relevant to the novel, it is not so appropriate, it does not advertise or foreword the story aswell as other titles might; it seems to only somewhat scratch the top of the meaning of The Great Gatsby.
Trimalchio, a character in the Roman novel The Satyricon by Petronius, was an emancipated slave who against all odds attained power and wealth and was known for throwing luxurious dinner parties. The parallels that can de drawn between Trimalchio and Gatsby are obvious enough, he was a roman nouveau riche just as Gatsby. The option title Trimalchio of West Egg is therefore quite relevant to the novel, and to one who’s about to read the novel, the title not only describes the character whom the reader is about to know about, but is also attractive by making reference to an intriguing Roman character.
The epigraph of the novel is the poem below:
Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her;
If you can bounce high, bounce for her too,
Till she cry, ‘Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover,
I must have you!’
The other title option, The High Bouncing Lover was taken from this poem written by Fitzgerald. It refers to Gatsby’s struggle to become rich as to win Daisy for himself. She, a rich girl who would never marry a poor boy like Gatsby used to be, would only do that if he “wore the gold hat”, if he possessed the wealth that overpowered her. The title refers to Gatsby as the “high bouncing lover”, representing all he did in order to become elligible for Daisy, sometimes being driven to do illegal actions, it seemed his ways of getting to her had no limits. It seems to me that this title fits the story perfectly, however it does not have the simplistic power that The Great Gatsby transmits.
The last title, and the one which Fitzgerald had seemed to be inclined the most to, is Under the Red, White and Blue, that is clearly a reference to the american flag and what it represents. This title is undeniably appropriate for the novel, since one of its major themes is the American Dream and the hoplessness of fullfiling it. By giving the novel this title, Fitzgerald would have lifted the weight off the greatness of Gatsby and his insistent hope when really he was doomed, and would focus more on the social critique of the obsession of being rich and the petty attitudes of those absorbed in it.
The Great Gatsby title itself seems to join all of the titles in one, but is focused specially on the perseverance and hope Gatsby maintained until his surprising death. Even though he seems a bit naive in the middle of the conspiratory world of wealth, his true sentiments do indeed invoke the appropriateness of calling the character “Great”, who’s essence remained unchanged even after all the wealth and status. Hence, the present title appears to fit perfectly with the novel, and has played a part in making it memorable.