LITERARY TREND AND AUTHOR CANON
Fitzgerald blends realism and modernism traits in his work;
“The Great Gatsby” is one of the books included in the “The Great American Novel” canon;
Modernism in Fitzgerald’s work:
Realism in Fitzgerald’s work:
THE GREAT GATSBY (published 1922)
The novel uses irony, exaggeration, and ridicule to mock a hypocritical society and its individuals. Many minor characters serve as symbols for the superficiality of the Jazz Age. The author satirizes the self-importance of the rich class in America.
The main character is a hero who seeks to achieve an impossible goal. In his pursuit, he is blind to reality and ends up having a violent death. Tragic heroes usually have a tragic flaw, which ultimately causes the tragedy. Gatsby’s flaw is his inability to accept reality and not live in the past. His obsession with his past relationship with Daisy leads him to a life of crime (bootlegging, gangsters, and false identity). Although he has a brief relationship with the mature Daisy, she is no longer the girl he fell in love with and has no intentions of leaving her husband. Ultimately, Gatsby falls victim to his self-destructive behaviour.
Main theme: The American Dream and its decline. Although the main theme of the novel seems to be love, the story is actually about Gatsby’s pursuit of wealth and prosperity. In his attempt to rise above the social class he was born into, Gatsby goes beyond independence and self-worth and ends up being materialistic and selfish in his pursuit of pleasure. Furthermore, Nick, who comes from a wealthy family (old money), looks down on Gatsby and discloses that he is a bootlegger to humiliate him in front of his Daisy. Gatsby’s prosperity in an era of unprecedented wealth and material excess leads to the decay of moral and social values and ultimately corrupts the American Dream.
Nick Carraway, the novel’s narrator, moves to New York from the Midwest. He starts visiting his rich cousin Daisy and her husband, Tom Buchanan. Nick finds out that they have an unhappy marriage and that Tom has a mistress, Myrtle. Tom finds out about a wealthy neighbour of his, Jay Gatsby, a man who throws extravagant parties every week. He is invited to one of these parties and Gatsby asks him for a favour, to facilitate a meeting between Gatsby and Daisy (they were former lovers). Fascinated by Gatsby, Nick helps them to meet, and they start an affair. Tom finds out about this and, after some time, he confronts Gatsby in front of his wife and reveals that Gatsby is a criminal who made his money selling illegal alcohol (bootlegging). Daisy refuses to leave Tom and, on the way back home, Gatsby’s car injures and kills Myrtle. George, her husband, kills Gatsby in retribution and then kills himself. Nick organises Gatsby’s funeral, but only a few people show up. In the end, Nick decides to return to the Midwest.
Characters presented in the analysis of the literary fragment should be adapted to the fragment itself.
POINT OF VIEW
“Something was making him nibble at the edge of stale ideas as if his sturdy physical egotism no longer nourished his peremptory heart.”
“Instead of being the warm center of the world, the Middle West now seemed like the ragged edge of the universe.”
“The man who gives his name to this book… who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn.”