The Great Gatsby (2013 Film)

The Great Gatsby (2013 Film) Quotes and Analysis

In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice. "Always try to see the best in people," he would say. As a consequence, I'm inclined to reserve all judgements. But even I have a limit.

Nick Carraway

This quote starts off the movie and demonstrates a fundamental character trait of Nick's: he has a resolute desire to see the best in people. This opening line of narration shows us that Nick is someone who wants to see the glass always as half full, and to give people the benefit of the doubt. However, at the end, the line makes an unexpected turn when Nick adds, "But even I have a limit." Thus, while Nick is inclined—because of his upbringing and the advice of his father—to imagine the best of people, he also reveals that that advice has not always served him, and that he has also been led to see the worst in people as well. The quote foreshadows that there will be a tragic dimension to the story.

That night, in the hidden flat that Tom kept for Myrtle, we were buoyed by a sort of chemical madness, a willingness of the heart that burst thunderously upon us all... And suddenly, I began to like New York.

Nick Carraway

Nick narrates this line while he watches the party unfold in Myrtle's Manhattan apartment. While he is initially reluctant about engaging in the frivolity, he is pressured into joining the party, and as it progresses, he actually enjoys it. The "chemical madness," the drunken excitement of the whole affair, seduces Nick. Indeed, the party is what gets Nick to begin liking New York. This quote shows Nick's unexpected enjoyment of the party-filled lifestyles of the rich, and also foreshadows his deeper involvements in the affairs of the Buchanans, and of Gatsby.

Five lost years struggled on Daisy’s lips. But all she could manage was... "It’s just... Because I've never seen such beautiful shirts before."

Nick Carraway

In this scene, Nick narrates witnessing the heartbreak in Daisy's face as she admires Gatsby's shirts. He notes that while Daisy has so much to express to Gatsby after five years of having been separated, she can only comment on something banal, his many expensive shirts. After five years of longing and desperate passion, her longing is now transforming into a deep sadness as she realizes what she and Jay could have been had things been different. However, these sentiments are inexpressible. In addition to being a stand-in for all of her feelings of regret and longing, the shirts only make everything more tragic and become symbols of her longing for Gatsby, and his newfound wealth. She could not have married him five years earlier, because he was poor. Now, however, he is a wealthy man, as represented by his shirts, and she can more easily imagine being his wife.

Gatsby: If it wasn't for the mist we could see the green light...

Daisy: What green light?

Gatsby: The one that burns all night at the end of your dock.

Gatsby & Daisy

The green light is perhaps the most central image and symbol in The Great Gatsby, representing Gatsby's relentless hope and his elevated aspirations. In this exchange, Gatsby shows Daisy that his house is directly across the harbor from her estate, which she did not realize. Additionally, he points out the green light on her dock, a light that she doesn't even notice. Gatsby has never stopped looking for that green light at the end of the dock, searching for Daisy even as she is out of reach. Meanwhile, she has never even really noticed the green light, representing her inattention relative to his dogged pursuit of her. Here, he reveals just how committed he is to her, and how much he longs to be with her.

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—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther... And one fine morning—So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Nick Carraway

These are the final lines of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, and the final lines of Nick Carraway's manuscript in the film. Here, Nick explains what the green light represented to Gatsby. He equates the green light with an "orgastic future." In other words, the green light represents the attainment of one's highest desires. For Gatsby, the desire for this future becomes completely unattainable. As Nick observes, we are all searching for that "orgastic future," but we are always pulled backwards by the current. The push-and-pull between the past and the future is a central dynamic in the narrative; Nick and Gatsby disagreed about whether one could relive the past, with Nick taking the position that one could not. Here, at the end of the film, Nick seems to agree with Gatsby, that we are all trapped in the past, unable to move forward, forced to chase after the unattainable future.

You always look so cool. The man in the cool, colored shirts.


On the day that everything goes wrong in Daisy and Gatsby's affair, Daisy, Gatsby, Tom, Jordan, and Nick have lunch at the Buchanan estate. While Gatsby and Daisy do not tell Tom explicitly that they are in love, they also make very little effort to cover up their affections for one another. In lieu of telling Gatsby that she loves him, in front of her husband, Daisy says these words to him, admiring his shirts. They have already shared an intimate moment involving the shirts, when Gatsby threw them down to her in his bedroom. By alluding to his beautiful shirts in this moment, it is as though Daisy is bringing up a private joke, and exposing the intimacy between them. While on their surface these words seem like an innocuous compliment, their subtextual significance is immense. In this moment, it is as though Daisy is telling Gatsby she loves him, and the realization of the underlying meaning behind Daisy's words sends Tom into a rage.

Well, I don't care. He gives large parties, and I like large parties—they're so intimate. Small parties, there isn't any privacy.

Jordan Baker

Jordan says this while attending one of Gatsby's parties. The quote reveals something about the scale of the parties: they are huge. More importantly, however, it illuminates Jordan's wit and her detached, sophisticated relationship to most social engagements. Jordan remains very detached throughout the film, and here she tells us that she doesn't even care about Gatsby's identity because she likes his parties so much. Additionally, she makes the rather ironic statement that large parties are more intimate. While one would think that a small party would be more intimate, with fewer people, Jordan insists that at a large party there is more going on, so there is more room to peel off and have a private moment, which is more intimate. It is a memorable line because it is so unexpectedly apt.

Jay Gatsby: The only respectable thing about you, old sport, is your money. Your money, that's it. Now I've just as much as you. That means we're equal.

Tom Buchanan: Oh, no. No. We're different. I am. They are. She is. We're all different from you. You see, we were born different. It's in our blood. And nothing that you do or say or steal... or dream up can ever change that.

Gatsby & Tom

This is the moment that Tom ruins all Gatsby's hopes, and his belief in the possibility of achieving the American Dream. Gatsby asserts that Tom Buchanan is not actually a respectable man, that the only thing that makes him respectable is his wealth, which would make them the same, since Gatsby has just as much money. Cruelly, Tom asserts that they are not the same at all, because Gatsby has acquired his wealth recently, while Tom comes from a well-to-do family. By alluding to the "nobility" of his blood, Tom asserts the power of his birth, of his breeding, both of which Gatsby does not have. Gatsby is a better man, less of a brute than Tom, and with greater imagination and a kinder spirit, but he comes from poor North Dakota farmers, and his performance of good breeding is all an act. Therefore, Tom still looks down on him, even though Gatsby has the same amount of money. Class is about more than just money, Tom asserts, disparaging Gatsby's pretensions and humble beginnings.

Pammy? Oh, yes. Listen, Nick, when she was born, Tom was God knows where... with God knows whom. And I asked the nurse if it was a boy or girl. And she said it was a girl and I wept, "I'm glad it's a girl. And I hope she'll be a fool. That's the best thing a girl in this world can be. A beautiful little fool." All the bright precious things fade so fast. And they don't come back.


Daisy says this to Nick in confidence as they walk outside the Buchanan estate in a private conversation. She confides in him about the fact that Tom was not present at the birth of their daughter, and was probably off having an affair with someone behind her back. This element of the story shows Daisy's contempt for Tom's philandering ways. She goes on to tell Nick that she was glad to hear that her child was a girl, and that she hopes that her daughter will be a "fool." This rather tragic sentiment reveals Daisy's belief that women are forced into difficult situations in life—she herself was forced to choose between a poor man that she loved passionately, and a marriage to a wealthy more stable man that has made her unhappy—so it is better if a woman just accepts her fate with questioning it. A clever girl might question her mistreatment by the world and be depressed by it, but a fool is not at risk of it, the quote suggests. She then goes on to say, even more tragically, that precious things fade so fast. She believes that her life has faded, and that she is powerless to hold onto the beauty of life.

My life, old sport, my life... my life has got to be like this. It's got to keep going up.

Jay Gatsby

In this quotation, Gatsby explicitly tells Nick that he has high aspirations and the desire to keep ascending the social ladder. By telling Nick that he thinks his life "has got to be like this," he reveals his compulsion to keep making his life better and better. "It's got to keep going up," Gatsby says, suggesting that he will never be satisfied, and that he will always want his life to be better. While this sentiment is a hopeful and positive one, it also reveals the way that Gatsby's thirst for power and influence is unquenchable. The quote shows that Gatsby can never be satisfied.