What Is the Tone of The Great Gatsby in Each Chapter

Last Updated: November 7th, 2023 by Kerry Wisby (Teacher-BA English Literature, 1920s & Great Gatsby Expert)

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald has woven intricate and changing tones in each of the nine chapters.

Published in 1925, this iconic novel transcends eras, inviting readers into the dazzling world of the Jazz Age.

Copy of my book The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fizgerald

One of the most captivating aspects of the novel is its ever-shifting tone, which evolves as the narrative unfolds across its various chapters.

The tones and moods shift from the exuberant celebrations of wealth and excess to the underlying currents of disillusionment and longing for unrequited love, as each chapter resonates with a distinct emotional cadence.

In this article, we will take a journey through each of the novel’s chapters, delving into the nuances of tone underlying the characters’ lives and shape the narrative’s trajectory.

By wading into the spectrum of moods or tones that Scott Fitzgerald embedded in each chapter, we gain deeper insights into the characters’ complexities, the societal critiques, and the overarching themes that continue to captivate readers across generations.

What Is the Overall Style and Tone in The Great Gatsby?

themes of The Great Gatsby Novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald envelops readers in a richly layered narrative characterized by a distinctive style and multifaceted tone.

The language is elegantly poetic, combining vivid descriptions with a keen awareness of human psychology. The style, often seen as a blend of romanticism and realism, reflects the opulence and superficiality of the Roaring Twenties while unearthing deeper truths.

The Great Gatsby tone, however, is a nuanced mix of emotions. It moves between exuberance and melancholy, mirroring the grand parties and lavish lifestyles of Long Island’s elite, against the emptiness and disillusionment that underlie their pursuits.

This contrast echoes the American Dream’s fragility as Scott Fitzgerald saw it, as the characters chase their elusive desires against the backdrop of excess and moral decay.

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The narrative’s somber undertones, infused with social critique, reveal the hollowness beneath the veneer of prosperity.

Fitzgerald’s mastery in this novel lies in the seamless interplay of style and tone, crafting a novel that encapsulates both the dazzling façade and the underlying darkness of an era and its individuals.

What Is an Example of Tone in The Great Gatsby?

Perhaps one of the best examples of tone can be found in the wistful melancholy that permeates Gatsby’s search for an unattainable past with Daisy Buchanan.

man on a dock, with green light in the background

This is evident in the very first chapter when Nick finds Gatsby gazing and reaching out for the green light on Daisy’s dock across the bay, a symbol of his aspiration to recapture his lost love.

Fitzgerald’s language is suffused with a nostalgic and yearning tone, portraying how Nick sees Gatsby as both a romantic dreamer and a tragic figure.

The recurring motif throughout the novel of the green light encapsulates the elusive nature of his desires, casting a somber and pensive tone over his relentless pursuit of a fantasy to win Daisy back.

This tone captures the underlying themes of hope and disillusionment, as Gatsby’s extravagant parties and lavish lifestyle stand in stark contrast to his inner solitude and the inability to recapture the fleeting moments of the past.

What Is the Tone and Mood in The Great Gatsby Chapter 1?

From the very first chapter, an example of tone can be found in the wistful melancholy that permeates Gatsby’s longing for the past.

However, the tone is also laced with an air of curiosity and intrigue, as narrator Nick Carraway introduces us to the world of wealth and privilege that he has entered as well as his curiosity about his neighbor.

Nick in front of Gatsby's mansion

The mood oscillates between fascination and a subtle unease, setting the stage for the story’s exploration of opulence and its underlying emptiness.

Fitzgerald uses Nick’s reflective and observant narrative to create a contemplative tone, inviting readers to question the nature of the characters and their motivations.

One could say that the mood is a blend of optimism and foreboding, as the vibrant parties and luxurious settings exude an aura of possibility, yet hints of mystery and insincerity cast shadows over the seemingly glamorous façade.

This dichotomy in tone and mood serves as a world of larger themes that will unfold, offering a tantalizing glimpse into the complex emotional landscape that defines this novel.

What Is the Tone and Mood in Chapter 2 of The Great Gatsby?

In Chapter 2, Nick Carraway and Tom Buchanan pick up Tom’s mistress, Myrtle Wilson, and attend a party at the apartment that Tom keeps for his trysts with Myrtle.

Myrtle Wilson and Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby

Noting this, it makes sense that the tone takes a sharp shift towards stark contrast and societal critique.

The mood becomes more somber and gritty as Nick describes the desolate “valley of ashes,” the wasteland that serves as a metaphor for the stark division between the wealthy and the less fortunate.

The tone carries an undertone of disillusionment as the excesses of the wealthy are compared with the harsh realities of poverty.

Fitzgerald’s portrayal of this setting creates a mood of hopelessness and desperation, highlighting the emptiness behind the glittering parties, adultery, and extravagant lifestyles.

Nick Describes the Valley of Ashes

The pervasive sense of decay, not only of the landscape but moral decay, contributes to an atmosphere of melancholy, casting a shadow over the lavish world he portrays.

This chapter’s tone and mood serve as a critical commentary on the societal excesses of the Roaring Twenties, underscoring the novel’s larger themes of wealth, class, and the elusive nature of the American Dream.

What Is the Tone and Mood in The Great Gatsby Chapter 3

In this chapter, Nick, wearing a white flannel suit, finally attends one of his neighbor’s parties and meets the mysterious Jay Gatsby.

In Chapter 3 the reader will find a tone of lavish extravagance and frenetic energy.

1920s party - a scene of men and women dancing - Gatsby's parties

The mood is one of opulence and downright hedonism, as Nick recounts the grandiose and flamboyant parties that Jay Gatsby throws at his mansion.

The tone exudes a sense of surrealism, as the descriptions of the festivities border on the fantastical, with music, dancing, and an abundance of luxury, to say the least.

While the mood is electric and vibrant, reflecting the exuberance of the Jazz Age’s high society, beneath the surface, there’s a tinge of artificiality and emptiness, as the guests are absorbed in their self-indulgence.

This dualistic tone and mood capture the essence of the era, with its blend of superficiality and allure, hinting at both the allure and shallowness of the characters’ lives.

What Is the Mood and Tone in Chapter 4 of The Great Gatsby?

In this chapter, Gatsby invites Nick to lunch in New York where he meets Gatsby’s business associate, Meyer Wolfsheim. It is also in this chapter that Jordan Baker tells Nick about the relationship between Daisy and Gatsby.

Chapter 4 emanates a tone of revelation and introspection.

Gatsby and nick in new york

Nick’s tone and mood become more sober as he recounts Gatsby’s past and his mysterious origins.

The tone carries a sense of uncovering hidden truths and shedding light on ambiguous characters.

As Gatsby’s façade slowly begins to crack, the mood shifts to a mixture of fascination and skepticism, capturing the intricacies of human nature.

Jordan’s revelations about Gatsby’s background and pursuit of Daisy contribute to a tone of yearning for change and unfulfilled desires.

The mood takes on a slightly melancholic quality as the characters’ motivations are exposed, revealing their vulnerabilities and insecurities.

Chapter 4’s tone and mood contribute to the ongoing exploration of the complexity of relationships, the fragility of dreams, and the darker undercurrents pervading the lives of the characters.

What Is the Mood and Tone in The Great Gatsby Chapter 5?

Nick has invited Daisy to tea at his house so she can be properly re-introduced to Gatsby.

In Chapter 5, the tone resonates with ecstatic anticipation and romantic nostalgia.

Nick, Daisy, and Gatsby party quietly

The mood is one of eager excitement as Gatsby prepares for what he believes will be his reunion with Daisy, whom he has longed for since their separation.

The tone carries a sense of hopeful yearning, mirroring Gatsby’s overwhelming desire to recapture the past and make it anew.

As their reunion unfolds, the mood shifts to a delicate blend of joy and unease, as their interactions are charged with the weight of their shared history and unfulfilled dreams.

The tone deepens into a mix of bittersweet sentimentality and underlying tension, as the characters’ emotions veer between euphoria and the realization of the challenges that lie ahead if the pair were to become involved.

Fitzgerald’s masterful crafting of tone and mood captures the complex emotional landscape of this pivotal moment. The reader will feel the optimism of rekindled love as it collides with the harsh reality of time’s passage and the fact that Daisy’s life has changed now that she’s already a married woman.

This chapter’s tone and mood illuminate the novel’s central themes of longing, illusion, and the fragility of the American Dream.

What Is the Mood and Tone in Chapter 6 of The Great Gatsby?

Gatsby invites Tom and Daisy to a party at his mansion. Gatsby hoped to impress Daisy with all the important people who show up, and while on one hand, Daisy finds some people interesting, for the most part, she finds it distasteful.

Daisy, Tom, Gatsby, Nick and Jordan Party at a Hotel

Chapter 6 of The Great Gatsby gives readers a tone of both mounting tension and escalating unease.

The mood takes on a more somber and introspective quality as Nick discovers more about Jay Gatsby’s past and reveals his humble origins and transformation into a self-made millionaire.

The tone carries a sense of mystery and curiosity, as Nick uncovers the layers of Gatsby’s cryptic personality.

As the extravagant parties at Gatsby’s house continue, the mood becomes a mix of opulence and inner turmoil, revealing the emptiness of his lavish lifestyle.

The tone deepens as Gatsby’s connection with Daisy intensifies, a combination of elation in one aspect but insecurity in another.

The mood turns apprehensive as Gatsby’s actions and relentless pursuit of an unattainable dream becomes palpable.

Fitzgerald’s deft manipulation of tone and mood illustrates the complexities of identity and aspiration, weaving a tapestry of hope and disillusionment.

What Is the Mood and Tone in The Great Gatsby Chapter 7?

In Chapter 7, Fitzgerald is about to take things up a notch as Tom and Daisy return the favor, inviting Gatsby, Jordan, and Nick to dinner at their mansion. Not long after, the group decides to drive to New York City.

This chapter is steeped in a tone of impending tragedy and heightened emotions.

Gatsby Tells Tom that Daisy doesn't love Tom

Nick narrates how the mood evolves into a tense atmosphere as the characters’ relationships and conflicts unravel and Tom becomes aware that Daisy and Gatsby are having an affair.

The tone carries an undercurrent of disillusionment, particularly as the façade of opulence begins to crumble. Tom and Gatsby’s rivalry escalates, imbuing the interactions with a sense of volatility and unease.

The mood is one of mounting unease and strained interactions, punctuated by moments of confrontation and realization.

As the sweltering heat of summer intensifies, the tone shifts to a feverish and almost claustrophobic quality, mirroring the emotional intensity of the events.

The mood becomes increasingly desperate as Gatsby’s illusions about his relationship with Daisy shatter, giving rise to a tone of tragic resignation.

Then the climactic confrontation and its aftermath exude a somber and mournful tone, encapsulating the gravity of the choices made by the characters. Myrtle’s death and everyone’s reaction to it bring this chapter to a dramatic close.

Fitzgerald adeptly crafts the tone and mood to reflect the fragility of dreams, the destructive power of obsession, and the corrosive effects of excess.

This chapter’s tone and mood serve as a turning point in this novel, ushering in the irreversible decline of the characters’ lives and sealing their fates amidst the tumultuous backdrop of the Jazz Age.

What Is the Mood and Tone in Chapter 8 of The Great Gatsby?

Gatsby still has hope of leaving town with Daisy and starting over, while Nick has premonitions of even more terrible tragedy.

In Chapter 8 of The Great Gatsby, there is a tone of tragic reflection and impending closure or possibly doom.

Gatsby's Last Words

This darker mood is characterized by a sense of somber nostalgia and finality as Nick recounts the events leading up to Gatsby’s demise as he waits for Daisy’s call.

The tone carries a tinge of melancholy as Gatsby’s once-vibrant world crumbles around him.

The mood oscillates between despair and introspection, mirroring the characters’ reckoning with the consequences of their actions.

Gatsby’s isolation and desperation instill the narrative with a sense of desolation and futility as he realizes that Daisy is not going to return to him.

The tone deepens as Nick’s disillusionment with the superficiality of the upper class becomes evident, highlighting the hollowness behind the glamor.

Nick's last words to Gatsby

The mood becomes increasingly solemn as the past is revisited, revealing the fragility of dreams and the irreversibility of time.

Fitzgerald masterfully crafts the tone and mood to evoke a sense of impending tragedy, culminating in the tragic deaths of Gatsby and George Wilson.

This chapter’s tone and mood serve as a poignant reminder of the characters’ vulnerabilities and the inevitable consequences of their pursuit of elusive desires.

What Is the Mood and Tone in The Great Gatsby Chapter 9?

cross on a grave

Gatsby is dead, and it is Nick who discovers that there is no one to attend his funeral. Disgusted with everyone and everything, Nick makes plans to return to Missouri.

Chapter 9 resonates with a tone of reflective closure and a mood of melancholic resignation.

As the novel comes to a close, the tone carries a sense of finality and introspection, drawing readers into Nick Carraway’s contemplation of the events that have occurred.

The mood is tinged with a mixture of sorrow and disillusionment as the fallout from Gatsby’s death reverberates through the narrative.

The tone deepens into a bittersweet introspection as Nick contemplates the transient nature of human endeavors and the unattainable dreams of recreating the past that drove Gatsby.

Best Metaphors from Chapter 9 of The Great Gatsby

The mood is marked by a sense of quiet contemplation as Nick navigates the aftermath of the tragedies, revealing the contrast between the characters’ hopes and the harsh reality of their lives.

Fitzgerald skillfully shapes the tone and mood to evoke a sense of emotional resolution, capturing the complexities of human ambition and its consequences.

This chapter’s tone and mood serve as a poignant conclusion, underscoring the novel’s themes of illusion, disillusionment, and the fleeting nature of happiness.

What Is the Difference Between Mood and Tone?

Mood and tone sound similar, but they do have some major differences and serve different purposes.

Mood refers to the emotional atmosphere that the author creates within the text, influencing the reader’s feelings and reactions.

Daisy React Seeing Gatsby after So Many Years

It’s the feeling or the vibe a reader gets while engaging with the writing. Mood is often described with words like “joyful,” “melancholic,” “tense,” or “serene.”

On the other hand, tone refers to the author’s attitude or approach towards the subject matter or audience. It’s the writer’s voice and perspective conveyed through their choice of words and style.

Quotes about Jay Gatsby's Solitude

Tone can be formal, informal, serious, humorous, critical, and so on. Think of mood as the emotional backdrop experienced by the reader, tone is the intentional stance and expression of the writer.

In essence, mood is what you, the reader, feel while reading, while the tone is how the author feels about what they’re writing.

Final Summary

main Characters in the Great Gatsby novel

In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, the interplay of mood and tone creates a rich tapestry of emotions that mirrors the complex lives of its characters.

Through its shifting moods, the novel draws us into the exuberant revelry and poignant reflections of the Jazz Age. The carefully crafted tones invite us to glimpse the characters’ desires, illusions, and vulnerabilities, adding depth to their portrayals.

Ultimately, the intricate dance of mood and tone in The Great Gatsby serves as a timeless testament to the power of language in shaping our perceptions and emotions within the realm of literature.

What Is the Tone of The Great Gatsby in Each Chapter
What Is the Tone of The Great Gatsby in Each Chapter
Explore chapter by chapter: The Great Gatsby's shifting tones. Dive into Fitzgerald's famous novel and discover emotions from love to melancholy.
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