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The Structures Of The Great Gatsby English Literature Essay

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a novel which is based around what is now known as the roaring twenties. Fitzgerald was a man interested in traditional values in particularly the American Dream. He felt that society in the 1920’s was breaking away from these moral values and this is shown through the characters in the novel. The structure of the book is quite simple and we see events unfold mainly through Nicks eyes. Many critics have suggested that Nick represents Fitzgerald through his innocence to events which occur in society.  The Great Gatsby is the story of one man’s futile quest of finding happiness through wealth, and the disillusionment that inevitably follows. 

Nick Carraway narrates in both first and third person, presenting only what he himself observes. Nick alternates sections where he presents events objectively, as they appeared to him at the time, with sections where he gives his own interpretations of the story’s meaning and of the motivations of the other characters. As a reader we see life in Fitzgerald imaginary setting through Nick’s eyes and right from the beginning Nick makes sure that we have full trust in him as a narrator. He says he was taught ‘not to be judgemental’ by his father which does install some confidence into him. This is because if he were to judge people at first sight he would not take into account all the actions but only what he saw first. It is reasonable to believe you should weigh up both the negatives and positives about someone before you make judgement.  Nick’s attitudes toward Gatsby and Gatsby’s story are ambivalent and contradictory. At times he seems to disapprove of Gatsby’s excesses and breaches of manners and ethics, but he also romanticizes and admires Gatsby, describing the events of the novel in a nostalgic and elegiac tone. He seems to question a lot of Gatsby’s tales but then gets easily drawn into thinking it was the truth. This is through Gatsby’s persona which he carries.

Fitzgerald style of writing is complex, he uses many adverbs instead of describing actions in two words he uses one. In chapter one alone he uses over fifteen adverbs for Daisy, Nicks cousin. The effect of this is that it makes more of an impact on the reader because a picture is created to the story. Many would criticize and claim too many adverbs clutters a story and slows it down. That is true it does slow the plot down but it slows it down to a pace where it suits the character. Daisy is a slow moving free spirit so using many adverbs such as unobtrusively and gradually suits her character. This is also true for Tom, Daisy’s husband, as a strong ex American football player he is seem to be commanding and takes the lead in situations. So when Gatsby uses commanding language as Tom’s main dialogue it seems totally natural, ‘We are going to New York Nick’, in this scene Nick does not even know he was going until Tom told him so. This shows the power Tom asserts on other people.

Fitzgerald’s also uses poetic phrases particularly at the beginning of most chapters. This is to entice the reader into the story so much that they do not want to put the novel down. Fitzgerald does this cleverly by including long vivid descriptions of the setting. This is first seen when Nick is describing and comparing his house to that of his neighbours house, Gatsby, ‘spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy’. Even in his vivid descriptions he uses rare items such as ivy. This shows to the extent of his descriptions which can be seen to be poetic like. Most of the male characters in the novel took some formal part in World War I, Gatsby seen to be a war hero, and have come back not knowing their place in society. This is seen in the dialogue the characters use because it is very militaristic, ‘cadet’. These are subtle reminders from Fitzgerald who had admiration for war veterans that America had fought and won in a World War. However, he uses this to make people realise that after the war people found it very difficult to adjust to everyday life because in the army there was a strict routine. Once they were back they couldn’t adjust to the freedom they had and forget what they had seen in the war. Thus Nick describing people as a cadet could be seen to be a personal comfort to him.

Fitzgerald use of technique in his language is very sophisticated approach often foreshadowing events. For example Jordan admits to being a horrible driver and says she'll be fine as long as she doesn't meet another careless person, this is foreshadowing for when they break up and Nick admits he's a bad driver.

Fitzgerald uses Nick to put forward his own ideas and philosophies across particularly about how he felt society should be ran. He does this through ones speech and how he describes their characteristics.

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