The Great Gatsby

Essay by mandys2345High School, 12th gradeB+, August 2008

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The Princeton Review‘’F.Scott Fitzgerald’s interpretation of the 1920’s’’ through ‘The Great Gatsby’The novel of “The Great Gatsby” is an expression of various human traits which impact on many social, moral, ethical and financial levels. This novel is a reflection of mankind, human character and behaviour at its worst and at its best. ‘The Great Gatsby’ is not a story to be judgemental about, for one we all possess these traits of how we act in times of happiness and misery. Obviously, this isn’t only human nature that has inflicted on social status, education and opportunities, these forces do change with time.

“Money makes the man” is a quote justifying that the money a man earns, establishes how much of a man he really is. But is this still the case in the twenty first century? Or is it just a philosophy? A man was based upon wealth.

Are the readers of today judging their opinions based upon what they are exposed to in novels? The 1920’s was a period through which a minority lived and preserved knowledge of.

There is one way that we can experience and invision the 1920’s is through novels and texts written by authors and people that are familiar with that moment in time. “The Great Gatsby” created by author F. Scott Fitzgerald (a man who witnessed and lived through the Jazz age) is one of a few novels where readers can get a real interpretation of how the era really was. His interpretation follows through the factors of the 1920’s analyzing the values relating to gender, race and status. However, the question is? Are the readers being influenced by writer’s interpretation and specificly within the discrete techniques that they use? Throughout this article themes such as gender, race andGatsby and Daisy, the two materialistic characters manipulated throughout ‘The Great Gatsby’class will be conversed about to give a clear understanding of their place in reference to “The Great Gatsby”.

“The Great Gatsby” is a contrast between both the disillusion of post-war America and the moral failure of the 1920’s society preoccupied with wealth and status. ‘The Great Gatsby’ was set in the summer of 1922, the novel captures the story of a young man named Nick Carraway therefore he becomes the narrator of this novel. The story unfolds around a man named Jay Gatsby, his is one full of unusual optimism and his efforts to recreate his dreams by applying them into his reality, well he does try.

Authors such as Fitzgerald construct characters subjectively to give a purposefully chosen version of the 1920’s. Fitzgerald was born on 24th September 1897 and attended Princeton in 1913 as did the character Nick Carraway in his novel “The Great Gatsby”, he made a career out of blurring the line between life and art, creating an irresistible image of youth, celebrity and excess. Throughout “The Great Gatsby” similarities and parallels are noticed between the text and Fitzgerald’s life. Some examples include Fitzgerald’s love for Zelda which corresponds with Gatsby’s love for Daisy in that in order to win her love; he had to go down a path which led him to a lifestyle he despised. This is proven in the novel when Gatsby throws elaborate parties in order to impress Daisy; however he does not actually enjoy them as they are filled with meaningless faces and people he does not know.

Even though the majority of people are influenced to think that ‘class was everything’ during this period, Daisy states that a women; “She needs attention and loves wealth and power… She relishes in the role of a beautiful socialite and enjoys the life Tom provides for her.”) The audience are also exposed to Fitzgerald’s concept of gender role and status during the novel. The role of gender representations of the 1920’s is usually one which implies that women as being a fragile gender without a intelligence, opinion, as sex objects and as fools. “She’ll be a fool-that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” Daisy proclaims this statement to Nick as Daisy suppose that, that is the only way a women can get anywhere throughout her life.

Tom also sees Daisy as his possession rather then a human being and only becomes concerned about Daisy when he is faced with the prospect of losing her. “His wife and mistress, until an hour ago secure and inviolate were slipping precipitately beyond his control.” The identity of the male is one of dominance, superiority and this constantly suggested throughout “The Great Gatsby” with Tom and Daisy. As Tom has no feeling of guilt about his extramarital affair with Myrtle, (An example of such behaviour, was an incident at a party held in New York; when the mistress Myrtle breaks out into an outburst, and starts creating a scene about Toms wife, daisy. Tom breaks her nose with frustration; the other attendants at the party don’t question or accuse of the male and Myrtle runs back to him for comfort. Once again he is at a higher status and peers from a social hierarchy, therefore Myrtle has no other option but to look beyond the incident. She believes he loves her.) But when he suspects Daisy was unfaithful towards him, he quickly becomes outraged and is ready for confrontation.

Throughout the novel “The Great Gatsby” races and cultures are not involved. This suddenly tells the reader that there were races which were abandoned during the 1920’s. Throughout history and especially the 1920’s the black race was not the respected one. “It is up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control or things. We’ve got to beat them down.” Says Tom, he is adverting this towards the Negro race therefore Tom gives the impression that he is racist. This statement suggests to the reader that the 1920’s for example the rich, like Tom and Daisy, are very racist, carefree and feel that they are the dominant and superior race because they are more educated and have more wealth. This proves that once again, Fitzgerald has influenced the readers to only understand and believe his perspective because as readers, have had little or no knowledge of what the era of the 1920’s was like.

Fitzgerald, as well as other authors have used different techniques to persuade their audiences to believe certain discourses about gender, race and class, whilst dismissing ideas about other thoughts or issues. Readers should to be aware of his writing skills and make ourselves more knowledgeable so that we can make our own opinions, and won’t influence the way we think about different matters that concern ourselves rather than believing the interpretation of one.

Bibliography [image] accsed online 1st of April,‘The Great Gatsby’ written by Bellmore-Merrick Central High School [online]Accsed on the 22nd March, 2008‘The Great Gatsby’, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1926, Published in Penguin books 1950