The book which will be studied within this essay is ‘the Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The method of narration within ‘the Great Gatsby’ helped me to appreciate two important aspects of the text – theme and symbolism. The author successfully used the development of narration throughout the book in the form of the first person. I found this to be effective because of the narrator’s (Nick) unbiased stance towards every situation in the book, as he says: “I am one of the few honest people I have ever known. ”
There is also a second method of narration used within the book; this is in the form of breaks in narrating. During flashbacks, other voices chare the job of narrating – for example; Jordan Baker tells us about the time when Gatsby asked her to help him in his quest to win back Daisy. The plot within ‘the Great Gatsby’ is quite complex with many intertwining relationships causing the plot to come to an abrupt end. The story is focused around people striving to achieve the American Dream for different reasons which are not always kosher.
The Great Gatsby’ is about the lifestyles and secrets held among the higher-class society during the 1920’s Jazz Age. The book tells of a man named Jay Gatsby who’s one obsession in life was to be reunited with Daisy Buchanan. Daisy Buchanan, was Gatsby’s first love, however, they had been forced apart by their different lifestyles; Gatsby being of a lower-class compared to a young Daisy. Their love was finally ended when Gatsby left for the war and Daisy married Tom Buchanan (a man seen more fit for her).
When he returns from the war his reason for striving to achieve the American Dream was to win back Daisy and give her the life he thought she deserved. For years he waited for her to come to one of his extravagant parties but she never did and this is when he ’employs’ Nick and Jordan to help him win her back. This is also when Daisy’s husband Tom’s affairs become apparent to the readers. Tom’s current affair is with a woman called Myrtle Wilson – she has a very unhappy marriage. After Myrtle is brought into the story this adds more intensity to the plot.
In the end of the book, Myrtle is killed by Daisy in a car accident, however, Myrtle’s husband – George, is told by Tom that it was Gatsby who was driving as he now knows about Gatsby and Daisy (as they had formed a relationship) by this time and now wanted to triumph over Gatsby. George then shoots and kills Gatsby, bringing his dream to an end. The main theme in the book is the sought after American Dream. This is particularly true of the main character Gatsby. He returned from war to find his first love – Daisy, had married Tom Buchanan who was in a higher-class of society compared to Gatsby.
This was when Gatsby began to exploit all meanings of the American Dream. He truly did come from nothing to being classed as one of the highest members of society. Also, America in the 1920s was shown as being the land of freedom and opportunities which, Gatsby proves can be true if you’re prepared to do anything – even if it is illegal. However, Gatsby’s case of achieving the American Dream was not entirely satisfying because he did not achieve it for the right reasons – he did it to get Daisy.
Gatsby’s life also highlighted the negative sides of the American Dream; one of these is the idea of being alone because of riches making you feel different. This is proved several times for Gatsby within the book. One example is the fact that at his luxurious parties, hundreds of people came – whether they had been invited or not. However, at Gatsby’s funeral not one came accept his father, who Gatsby had not talked to for years; in fact, Gatsby said all his family were dead so the American Dream made Gatsby want to be alone.
Another example of Gatsby’s solidarity is when Nick sees Gatsby standing alone on his beach and says: “he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone. ” All of the above examples show why I believe the narration of themes within ‘the Great Gatsby’ plays an effective part in increasing my appreciation of the text because as the narration is in the first person it allowed me to read someone else’s opinion on situations in the story. Symbolism plays an important part in ‘the Great Gatsby. It allows the narration within the book to develop in a positive way as it adds variety and complexity to the storyline; which made the book more interesting to read and therefore effecting my appreciation of the story.
One main symbol within the book is the green light at the end of the Buchanan’s dock. To Gatsby, the light stood for Daisy and his goal to win her back and gain her love once again – it was a symbol of hope. After Gatsby and Daisy are reunited, a mist guards the green light at the end of the dock and Nick interprets Gatsby’s thoughts: Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever… Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one. ” (PAGE100) This quotation shows that now Gatsby has Daisy, she is not as ideal as he had made her seem. To him, having Daisy diminishes all he has ever done; having his full American Dream is not as perfect in reality as he had imagined. A second symbol within ‘the Great Gatsby’ is the use of names.
The use of names within the book effected my enjoyment of the story because this form of narration allowed me to see how a high-class society acts. For example, when Tom and Daisy came to one of Gatsby’s parties, Gatsby insisted on showing them around and chose to introduce Tom as “the polo player” to reduce his status and importance. I think Gatsby did this to show Tom he could compete with him to take Daisy and to show Daisy his lifestyle could please her – he was good enough for her now.
A second example is when Nick – the Narrator, is describing the guests at one of Gatsby’s extravagant parties: “Women who never know each other’s names” his quotation shows that within this higher-class society everyone is strangers to one another, however, due to reputation and popularity they are all associated together as one group of ‘friends. ‘ Lastly, again Nick is narrating the important people at Gatsby’s party; “Civet, Blackbuck, Beaver” this quotation confirms that only people who Gatsby sees as important and status building people are invited to his parties – he only wants to be associated with appropriate people for a man of his stature, which I think shows how alone he was in his bid to get Daisy and how much he was willing to sacrifice to get her.
Overall, ‘The Great Gatsby,’ was an intriguing compilation of deceit, lust and love shown through the development of narrative skills in the areas of theme and symbolism. I found the narration within the book effected my enjoyment of it because as it was in the first person I felt the story seemed more personal and realistic; bringing the book to an interesting climax.