THE AUTHOR AND HIS/HER TIMES: Born; 1896 /Died; December 21, 1940: biographical background important to under standing the novel: important family, community, national, and world events that influenced the author and the novel. F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St Paul, Minnesota of mixed Southern and Irish descent. Due to his mother’s inheritance, Fitzgerald developed a taste for fine things and belief that the rich are different. In 1913 Fitzgerald entered Princeton University. He left his studies in 1917 because of his poor academic records, and took up a commission in the US Army.
FORM, STRUCTURE, AND PLOT: How is the novel organized? The novel is organized in chapters. Chapters? There are 9 chapters in the novel. Discuss techniques such as flashbacks or dream sequences, stream of consciousness, chronological order of events, foreshadowing, parallel events, multiple, complex, or simple plot. F. Scott Fitzgerald uses many different techniques in the novel The Great Gatsby such as flashbacks to inform the reader why a certain character might do something. At some points in the novel Fitzgerald also uses stream of consciousness. He rambles on, on certain topics, which can confuse the reader. Parallel events are not used in the novel neither are multiple. The plot of the novel is rather simple. It is all based on Gatsby trying to recreate the feeling he and Daisy had for one another five years before. Then, outline the events of the plot, labeling the exposition, initial incident, rising action, crisis/climax, and falling action with one or two sentences describing each. How much time is covered? The plot of the novel is very simple. It is the problem that has troubled man since the beginning of time, love. Gatsby wants Daisy but he cant have her because she is married. He and her get a little thing going behind her husbands back but he is suspicious about the things that are going on around him, he senses that something is wrong. Tom, Daisy s husband, finally confronts Gatsby and tells him he knows what is going on between him and his wife. Daisy realizes who she belongs with and goes back with Tom because they are married and have a child together. At the end Gatsby gets killed. All of this takes place in a couple of months.
POINT OF VIEW (NARRATIVE PERSPECTIVE): Is the novel written from first person (I), second person (you very rare), or third person (he she)? This novel is written in the third person. Is it a reminiscence or recent perspective, written in the present tense or the past tense? The Great Gatsby is a reminiscence of when Nick Carraway live in N.Y. and it is also written in the present tense. If in the third person, is narrator omniscient (knowing everything), limited omniscient (knowing one character most often), or objective (no subjective commentary by the narrator, but limited omniscience?) The character of the novel is limited omniscient because he focuses on Gatsby, his neighbor, most of the novel. Often a character may be autobiographical or reflect the views of the author. Show how this occurs and what he wants to show us. The novel takes place in a rich neighborhood where Nick Carraway has just moved in from the Mid West and he finds that things are different when dealing with rich people because they have different morals than where he came from. The author of The Great Gatsby believes that rich people are also different that everyone else so he expressed his feelings vicariously through his character, Nick, in the novel.
CHARACTER: General Comments: Flat/round characters? All of the characters are flat except for Nick because he undergoes a catharsis. The only one that has a change of heart is Nick because he realizes that rich people are snobs. Believable? The characters are believable. How are they revealed? They are revealed as they come along. How complex? The characters are not complex they have simple means of doing things. Protagonist/antagonist? The protagonist of the novel is Nick Carraway. There is no antagonist. Then describe 4-6 central characters: name, age, three descriptive adjectives, appearance, personality, function in the novel, a short quotation that reveals character. Nick Carraway is tolerant, understanding, and honest he is the narrator and main character of the novel. In consequence I m inclined to reserve all judgements, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores. (F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, pg. 5). Jay Gatsby is very persuasive, calm, and pitiful. Tom Buchanan is very strong, self centered, and proud of himself and his achievements. Daisy Buchanan is very weak, pretty, and has a low moral.
SETTING: Where and when does this novel occur? An Island named West Egg in New York between the period of 1912-1925. How is the environment described: Any symbolic meaning in the settings? The environment is described as, one of the strangest communities in North America. It was on that slender riotous island which extends itself due east of New York and where there are, among other natural curiosities, two unusual formations of land. (F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, pg.9) What ATMOSPHERE is crated by the setting? The atmosphere created by the setting is a very weird and interesting one, which foreshadows the weird plot in the story. Any important changes in settings, tensions between settings? There are many important changes in settings. Everywhere the characters in the story go gives off a different kind of vibe and feeling towards the novel.
THEMES: Identify at least three major themes: use a sentence for each theme. Three themes are The Corruption of the American dream, Time, and love. The American dream is corrupted because it was it was believed that anyone could succeed in life no matter what status they were but in Gatsby s case he doesn t succeed because he is not from such a well off background. Gatsby didn t acquire his money by hard work or family he acquired it because he was close with someone who was rich so people see him as lower social status still. Time is used because Gatsby wishes he can go back in time to when he had Daisy but he finds out that you cant turn back the hand of time. The theme of love is used throughout the whole novel. We see the love that Gatsby has for Daisy and that makes us feel pity for him. What universal truths are revealed? The universal truths that are revealed are that you cannot turn back the hands in time, and that rich people are different from poor people, not just in the money aspect, but in the morals they have. Time has to be lived as it is presented to you and if you don t all you will be able to do in the future is retrospect on the past and wish you should have acted different towards a certain situation. Another thing that is revealed is that rich people act different than that of poor lower class people. They tend to have low morals. How are they revealed in the novel? The themes are revealed in the novel as we are further introduced to the characters and their motives. Are these themes typical of this novelist? Yes. Cite at least three critical reviews of the novel that reinforce your selection of themes. The Great Gatsby is an exploration of the American dream as it exists in a corrupt period, and it is an attempt to determine that concealed boundary that divides the reality from the illusions. The illusions seem more real than the reality itself. Embodied in the subordinate characters in the novel, they threaten to invade the whole of the picture. On the other hand, the reality is embodied in Gatsby; and as opposed to the hard, tangible Illusions, the reality is a thing of the spirit, a promise rather than the possession of a vision, a faith in the half-glimpsed, but hardly understood possibilities of life.”
Marius Bewley, “Scott Fitzgerald’s Criticism of America,” 1954
STYLE: How does the novelist make ideas come alive? The novelist makes the ideas come alive by being very descriptive about things. What fictional techniques are used? The fictional techniques that are used are the foreshadowing of events, different colors to let different moods, and flash backs are also used to further make the reader understand the novel better. Make a few general comments before exploring style more specifically below. I think that Fitzgerald did a great job at depicting certain scenes in the book by making them so vivid. Foreshadowing of upcoming events in the novel is used very often to set you up for upcoming events. Fitzgerald is a genius when using foreshadowing and describing an environment.
DICTION: Analyze the novelist s word choices. First, discuss the work in general: is the language formal, neutral, or informal? The Language in the novel is formal because the characters of the novel are from the higher class and are well educated. Explain, and give an example. Does the writer use lots of imagery? The author does not use a lot of imagery. Metaphoric and/or ironic devices? Fitzgerald uses foreshadowing and uses descriptions of things to set the mood of a particular scene in the novel. Is the language plain? Flowery? Concise? Strong? Lewd, crude, rude or shrewd? The language is plain. Does diction indicate social status, education, region? The language used in the novel indicates that the people are of high social status and are well educated. They say such things as old sport which people of lower class wouldn t use. Are the sounds cacophonous (k, t, p, ch, ow, etc.), or euphonious (m, l, n, sh, etc.)? The sounds in the novel vary from cacophonous and euphonious depending on what kind of scene the novel is in. Does this seem patterned or random? Random. Poetic diction? No. SELECT THREE PASSAGES featuring three different plot segments. Copy or Xerox them. Referring to the passages, discuss specific diction choices. Comment on how diction helps define character and setting.