The Great Gatsby Copy

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 Novell” canon;

Modernism in Fitzgerald’s work:

  • Presence of symbols;
  • Figurative language with poetic distortions of reality.

Realism in Fitzgerald’s work:

  • Recognisable locations;
  • Accurate social description: an examination into the false promise of the American Dream;
  • Psychological believability: the author explores the way his characters function within society.

THE GREAT GATSBY (published 1922)

LITERARY GENRE

  • Genre: Social Satire

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.

  • Genre: Tragedy

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.

SETTING

  • New York and New York’s suburbs;
  • West Egg, the fictional New York suburb where the new rich live;
  • East Egg, the fictional New York suburb where the established upper-class lives;
  • The Valley of Ashes, the industrial dumping ground between East Egg and New York City;
  • 1922.

THEMES

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.

Other themes:

  • Love and marriage
  • Class
  • Hypocrisy
  • Wealth
  • Memory and past
  • Education
  • Forgiveness

CONFLICT

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

Characters presented in the analysis of the literary fragment should be adapted to the fragment itself.

  • Nick Carraway – a young man from Minnesota, educated at Yale, who fought in World War I. He moves to New York City to learn about the bond business. He is honest, tolerant, and avoids judging people. He plays the role of the confidant for some characters in the novel, among which are Gatsby and Daisy. He facilitates the love affair between Gatsby and Daisy, and is also witness to Daisy’s decision of remaining with her husband.
  • Jay Gatsby – title character and protagonist of the novel. He is a very rich young man who lives in a Gothic mansion in West Egg. Every Saturday evening, he throws lavish parties that make him famous in the city. He was actually born in a poor farmer’s family but, after working for a millionaire, he dedicates his life to achieving wealth. His fortune is the result of criminal activity and associations with gangsters. His purpose throughout the novel is to win Daisy back. Nick perceives him as flawed, dishonest, and vulgar, but admires the “greatness” of his optimism and power to transform his dreams into reality.
  • Daisy Buchanan – Nick’s cousin, she is the woman Gatsby has been in love with since he was young. Courted by many officers before the war, Daisy fell in love with Gatsby and promised to wait for him. When Tom Buchanan asked her to marry him, she accepted, because he was rich and powerful. She lives with Tom across the bay from Gatsby’s mansion. She is sardonic, cynical, and superficial, to mask the pain caused by her husband’s constant infidelity.

POINT OF VIEW

  • 1st person limited perspective from Nick’s point of view;
  • The reader only knows what the character knows;
  • Nick is an observer who disappears into the background during main events;
  • In several passages, his voice disappears completely and he relates through the feelings of other characters, as though he is inside their heads.

TONE

  • A combination of scornful and sympathetic;
  • In the beginning, the tone is ironic (when describing the Long Island social scene);
  • Towards the end and in the beginning, the tone evolves to melancholy and sympathy (when establishing a narrative frame for the past events).

STYLE

  • Sophisticated and elegiac style to create a sense of nostalgia and loss;
  • Extended metaphors:

“Something was making him nibble at the edge of stale ideas as if his sturdy physical egotism no longer nourished his peremptory heart.”

  • Figurative imagery (mostly visual)

“Instead of being the warm center of the world, the Middle West now seemed like the ragged edge of the universe.”

  • Poetic language

“The man who gives his name to this book… who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn.”

  • Musical sentences that double the effect of Gatsby’s stylish behaviour;
  • The metaphoric language creates an ironic contrast with the crude behaviour of the other characters.