America in the twentieth century promotes the idea that money and properties are the source of true happiness and success, and this very concept contributes to American identity and perception. During that time in American history, religion was used as a tool to justify the means in controlling wealth.
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One can also argue that religion justified the capitalist approach in the United States market, which led to the rich feeling it necessary to over-work and abuse blue-collar citizens. Americans became obsessed with how they were seen in contrast to how they actually lived. Herein lies one of the key differences between old money and new money; the bourgeoisie was in constant competition with the WASPs, regarding who had the most properties and possessions, thus signifying the authenticity of the WASPs against the lack of roots of the nouveau riche.
Their family name suffices. The Great Gatsby is not a tale of money or financial success but one of America, and how it manipulates the world to gain what it wishes. He argues that understanding the American dream as a concept allows us to comprehend and unpack the workings of American society, politics, and economic dialogues. The binary effect located within the concept of this dream illustrates a juxtaposition where temporality and illusions are contrasted. Herein lies the ability of the novel to speak to generations across vast spectrums of time.
The Great Gatsby is now our material. According to Michael Groden et al. Reception is useful in distinguishing and understanding the literary tastes of a certain time period. When discussing the novel in terms of its reception in the early s, one can assert that the novel was not received well by the general public and specialized critics of its time.
In the historical sense, during the time of the novel the American dream was still being defined, and as such not yet fully understood. The nature and reception of his works preceding The Great Gatsby prompted a criticism of the novel through prior presumptions. This was the first novel of Fitzgerald's through which he would prove his skills to his readers; it was to be his masterpiece and he intended it so.
Readers and critics expected Fitzgerald to fail even before he wrote his novel, as he only wrote to make money when he married Zelda. Criticism and reception of film adaptations are somewhat influenced by the relation of the visual productions to the original written work, and even to the history and perceived understanding of Fitzgerald himself. By creating film adaptations of the novel the text is revived, which consequently introduces new criticism and forms of reception theory.
The fact that the novel has been reproduced multiple times through different visual and staged outlets confirms how the essence of the work and its central themes remain significant to this day. In fact, the novel translates into a commodity being bought by the consumer the reader of a certain era. As Hohendahl et al.
When The Great Gatsby was published, for instance, the political and economic situation had a profound effect on the common people of that time which resulted in negative reviews. One could argue that the dissemination of the publication in the late s and beyond was impacted by the depression of Thus the roaring s as represented by Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby seemed a bipolar opposite of that critical period of the national economy. The chapter will observe how criticism has evolved through the past several decades in its appreciation of the novel.
By exploring the articles chronologically in order to suggest their significance through time, the chapter will be broken down into sections discussing each article thoroughly. As the chapter unfolds, different views in understanding The Great Gatsby, will be highlighted. The focus will be on several major critics of different orientations who analyzed the novel and its relation to the American Dream, both as an ideal and in terms of actual application.
Moyer, a distinguished critic and dedicated historical scholar of F. In the s and s, the economic condition of the U. Rebelliousness and hippy subculture drew attention to lack of satisfaction with the standard norms of American society. This led to exploitation of the middle class and the destruction of their humanity, as illustrated through incidents in The Great Gatsby. In the s, the condition of the U. The economic and historical situation of the U.
This probably affected the development of literary criticism and cultural expectations, hence moving away from the idea of the American Dream of joining the prosperous white upper class. In the political and economic situation in the country had changed from better to worse and the big burst came in America was experiencing a traumatic economic recession caused by the housing sector, and the stock market plummeted. This disaster resulted in American citizens becoming pessimistic towards the American identity and destroyed the ideal of hope in the American dream.
This might have influenced literary critics and scholarly work negatively because of the distrustful nature of the future of the U. The first African American president, Barack Obama, achieved a staggering triumph in the elections. The American spirit was resurrected and brought back to life. The author addresses a multiplicity of issues including class, gender and race in order to illustrate the relevance of the novel to American culture.
I mention her work in passing since I am concentrating on American critics. Hope is still alive pushing young people to follow their dreams. In his article originally published in , Moyer argues that not much has been devoted to how the novel personifies American history. The natural structure of time has been altered to achieve a state of transcendence, where the reader is able to experience how the historical changes have caused the struggle between the beauty of the perceived life — the illusion we create of life — and the harshness of reality.
Moyer suggests that this notion is circular due to its never-ending rotation, where one is always chasing a fantasy. Gatsby embodies this notion of circularity through his un-ending quest and desire to acquire Daisy. However, his eagerness to obtain Daisy creates a false lens through which Gatsby believes he can use monetary means to change the past and by so doing become deserving of Daisy. The scholar later reveals the relation between Gatsby and his dream of objectifying Daisy, whereby he utilizes her as a representation of the new world, where she — and only she — can grant him access into the upper-class.
According to Moyer, each character in the novel represents certain forces that helped shape the American identity throughout American history. Moyer highlights how the Buchanans symbolize the American upper class. Their ability to purchase and reside wherever they please creates a longing amongst the lower classes to imitate them.
Moyer describes Jordan Baker, a famous golf player who represents a new type of women in the s harsh, independent and self-sufficient , as having the same attributes of the Buchanans, but also representing the upper class superior physical strength as well as their deceitfulness. It is suggested that her role in the novel is an extension of the Buchanans through her arrogant and undermining tone throughout the narrative. Moyer thereby suggests that the WASPs have lost their moral and ethical American spirit, and have no desire to chase the notion of the American dream because they are living it.
As Moyer suggests, Gatsby loses sight of his spiritual dream and his materialistic obsession clouds his judgment, which forces him off his spiritual pursuit of the American dream. S during a time when greed and immorality were at the root of the American spirit. As stated in the notes of his article, Posnock is not interested in this type of critique of the text. This particular approach is important in the scholarship of Fitzgerald, because it is the first time a critic has shifted the focus of analysis from studying the text as a whole, to applying a Marxist framework in order to understand the economics within the novel.
Posnock at this point reflects on Marxist understanding of how the existence of a man in the capitalist world is determined by social conditions and perceptions of wealth, which in turn creates false consciousness. He demonstrates how the concept of money in Marxist terms can be considered one of the most important commodities because it has the ability to purchase anything, not limited to objects, but also individuals. In this case the object par excellence is Daisy, who is the object of desire, and the way to possess her is by becoming wealthier than her husband Tom and stealing her away with his money.
He is justified by his compulsive collecting of rare objects as a means of showing his class. He believes this to be a key aspect when critiquing the novel. The fact that she was the talk of the whole town and that she married Tom who represents old money and thus American aristocracy makes her the more valuable and worthy of the chase.
Posnock argues that the novel displays how capitalism has shaped the so-called American identity, as it illustrates a more liberal view of the real corrupt nature of the American people. In order to convince society of his authenticity Gatsby must produce a tangible piece of evidence to prove his past. Gatsby uses the only valuable asset, which is his life, in exchange and in hope for a mentor who can teach him how to belong to the upper class.
This passage in the book can be seen as the first valuable commodity exchange witnessed by Gatsby. He sends home all his servants and becomes vulnerable to society in terms of how he is perceived and understood by the elite. Gatsby represents the ideology of capitalism because he does not view the society that he is a part of, and instead believes his money is able to create an identity that does not belong to him.
Posnock illustrates through his Marxist lens how Gatsby creates his own view of reality and continues to believe in this illusion until his demise. This interpretation of the novel is important to critical reception because it moves the scholarly attention away from the typical historical and economic approaches.
It focuses on the inspiration and philosophical influence that shaped the work. Thus they strive to obtain and replicate the image of the upper class. This system conflicts with working class survival and needs. Canterbery argues his point of view by breaking down his article into five main analytical stages. Each section is employed to portray how Canterbery is arguing that The Great Gatsby is not merely an artistic work of fiction, but that it should be read and studied as a work that emulates the socio-economic dialogue of its setting and era Hence, The Great Gatsby becomes an allegory representing the historical and socio-political events of its time.
This approach is vital because it shifts the critical response that progresses from a historical perspective, to an economical, and ultimately a philosophical methodology in critiquing the upper class. Conspicuous consumption is a concept utilized in The Great Gatsby, embodied in the characterization of Gatsby, where he buys the expensive yellow Rolls Royce, the countless silk shirts, his general attire, etc.
Gatsby becomes the embodiment of the advertisement of success. In light of this, works such as The Great Gatsby can be considered a reflection of, and simultaneously a confrontation with, the collective consciousness of America during a time when greed overpowered honor and principles.
Critical reception of such works allows readers to formulate enhanced understanding, thus shaping readership and response of a specific generation. Each generation in general alters its perception according to the economic and historic events occurring at the time. Shreier focuses on the American individual identities illustrated in the novel rather than the collective American identity that most scholars previously paid close attention to. The importance of this article, in relation to its time of production, lies in how the socio-political situation of the U.
The American dream was being crushed by the increased economic recession and the decline of the positive American spirit. A new ethnic and racialized identity was located by critics in The Great Gatsby. Benjamin Schreier reads The Great Gatsby as a novel that uncovers an encoded American identity, which he argues is constantly shifting throughout time. Through this mode of reading it can be suggested that race and desire in The Great Gatsby are considered to be motivating factors that resist shaping a definitive American identity. This opposition makes conclusive reading of American identity an elaborate illusion.
What the critic seems to imply concerning identity is that it is a false problem. The question is bluntly: who has the right to be a citizen, and who has the right to the American dream? The cynical American, Nick, looks back. Here, Schreier goes further than the disappointment with the American dream. He implies that The Great Gatsby is about interpretation rather than the theme of American identity. This article written in the early decade of the twenty first century—has undermined earlier conclusive and confident readings.
Shreier thus relocates criticism of The Great Gatsby from assertive definitions to the realm of questioning hence revealing its composition as contemporaneous to aesthetics and philosophical concerns of our present context. These four articles take different approaches to the novel revealing how timeless is The Great Gatsby. Each generation finds in it meaning and relevance, critique of society and psychological realism. The reception of The Great Gatsby has been interestingly enough a way of seeing how timeless the novel has become.
The various approaches seem as if they are communicating with each other throughout time. I am able to identify with each of them because each has an important central theme and argument, namely, how Fitzgerald was an author ahead of his time. The spirit of the American Dream is constantly examined and criticized depending on the sociopolitical events of the periods and in the light of distinctive culture of a given era and its concerns. In reviewing these articles, one notices how the novel stimulates different discussions and arguments partly because the text is rich and offers multiple and complex issues, and partly because new temporal contexts provide new ways of looking at the novel.
Kermit W. The article establishes a correspondence between Marxist concepts and incidents in The Great Gatsby.
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Benjamin Schreier focused on the ambiguity of the American identity and questions how critics anchored it to nationalist history instead of seeing it as an identity in the making. These articles communicate with each other in terms of how the main themes are connected and intertwined such as American identity, social mobility, critique of capitalism, and American history. Over the years, the novel has been a source of inspiration to those who believe in the American dream and its unlimited possibilities. Hulseberg, one can understand the difficulties of converting a novel to film and how the director becomes the lens through which the audience view the text.
In order for a motion picture adaptation to succeed the director must alter the original novel in order to satisfy the general public and the censorship during the time of its production. After reading the novel first and watching the three movies, each adaptation proved to be confined to the historical and social norms of the given time of production. Each of the adaptations displayed a certain level of understanding towards the general public and how to present Gatsby as someone the audience can relate to.
Each version has proved to have its own specificity. The film version by Herbert Brenon has been lost and the only trace found was the silent black and white trailer. The second film adaptation was directed by Elliot Nugent in the year The code restricted directors from producing any motion picture that sympathized with any morally and ethically unacceptable behavior, such as crime, evil-doing, and religious sins.
In order to be able to produce the movie, Nugent needed to create a villain Dan Cody who taught and influenced Gatsby into leading a life of sin. The film was in black and white, and the casting of the characters was not effectively selected, which affected the financial success of the movie. It was produced by Paramount Pictures and was pulled from circulation following the release of the remake, directed by Jack Clayton.
The remake was in color and it captured the essence of the s by using New York and Long Island as its location for production. The music, costumes, cars, and houses were physically and historically accurate, which created a sense of what the novel wanted to represent. The adaptation followed the plot and theme of the novel closely but because of the poor casting did not achieve success in the box-offices. Almost four decades later, a new adaptation was produced by a director known for dramatizing and glorifying classics.
It was financially successful in the box-offices due to its focus on the younger audience and the complicated relationships between the characters, as well as its dazzling special effects. The film did not stay true to the original dialogue. Yet, it nonetheless managed to convey the message of the book more faithfully than its predecessors. In Fitzgerald and Hemingway on Film: A Critical Study of the Adaptations, Candace Ursula Grissom explains how each of the adaptations can be observed through a psychological lens, which opens up possibilities to discover how the films produce an understanding of the American spirit.
Grissom explains that by looking through the lens of psychologist Henry A. Murray and his Icarus complex written in , one can argue that the film adaptations can be seen as a reflection of Fitzgerald rather than of his novel being discussed. The Icarus complex can be adopted as a way of understanding the novel and film adaptions, in relation to Fitzgerald. Robert Wilson, a prominent sociologist who is known for analyzing literature, has interestingly enough applied the Icarus complex to Fitzgerald himself and found all five characteristics of such a complex instilled in his persona and in his work.
Grissom contends that it was very difficult for Nugent to attend simultaneously to limitations of the Hays code as well as be faithful to the criminal and immoral dimension of Gatsby This created an issue for Nugent, because the novel's purpose was to portray the loose morals of capitalist society during a time of excessive consumption. This drawback affected his style of interpretation because of the societal pressure placed upon him through censorship.
During the time of production, most of the motion pictures being produced were used as a tool, warning society that those who commit crimes will be swiftly and justly punished accordingly. The films were used as a means to attempt to restore the original American spirit, and in order to do so, they needed to destroy the trend of glorifying gangsters and criminals. Such films were warnings for those who lived a life of crime that their end would either be death or getting arrested. In fact, after the production of the motion picture, it received poor reviews and did not receive any critical acclaim due to its inferior representation of the American dream and immorality involved in trying to obtain that dream.
Gatsby's journey was what inspired the novel's readers. He may have used immoral techniques to obtain his dream, but his spirit resembled those of the founding fathers, those who have traditionally pursued such paths prior to his existence. His inspiration comes from how he was able to overcome extremely difficult obstacles in order to fight for his love for Daisy, and against all odds he was able to briefly taste victory. As the film was not a commercial or artistic success, it has not triggered much debate and thus its critical reception was minimal. The scandal uncovered corruption in the White House and led to stricter campaign financing restrictions and closer observations of government officials.
The U. The Great Gatsby was one of those novels that uncovered some of the corruption, and how the glitter of the Jazz age during the s masked moral decadence. Jack Clayton recreated the visual history represented in the novel but failed to include the complex spirit of the s. The director created a visual experience where the audience felt that they were literally given an opportunity to view the past through the lens of the camera.
However, by paying close attention to all of the visual details represented in the novel, the plot was too slow and uncaptivating to its audience. Bayles believes that Daisy is played as Fitzgerald would have perceived her in the novel, rather than seeing her as a misplaced actor as Cunningham argued. However, there were slight complications since Clayton, like Nugent, still believed that Gatsby should be portrayed as a criminal or gangster, rather than allowing the audience to decide for themselves, as the book does.
Just as in the version, the movie portrays Gatsby through a negative lens in order to prevent viewers from idolizing Gatsby. In order to use Gatsby as an example of how immorality can corrupt the American dream, they needed to produce a version where the audience does not have a choice.
At this instant Baz Luhrmann perhaps saw the perfect opportunity to create a new fresh adaptation that once again restored Gatsby as a representative for those who believe in the American dream. His directorial eye is similar to Dr. Giles explains how important this adaptation is in understanding the novel, how it may be read in the twenty first century, and how its visual interpretation will have to take into consideration its new modern setting, and the historical changes that help shape our understanding of the novel as a whole 3. Taylor Here Taylor is making a claim that the modern reception of the novel has been the driving force behind the director's adaptation.
Luhrmann has been able to select the right stars to complement each other. What is significant about the timing of this adaptation, according to Taylor, is how the American capitalistic society has not changed much since the s, where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.
In a way, The Great Gatsby is able to address the corruption of the leisure class without being offensive to upper-class that is represented in the novel and on screen. The novel presents the upper-class as people who have no idea of what the American spirit and dream encompass, or are even aware of how they repress the middle class through making social mobility nearly impossible by requiring a line of ancestry to prove your status.
The film adaptation does not include this critique of the upper-class.brandeddotmedia.com/foqe-phone-skype.php
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Instead it glorifies the extravagant lifestyle of the rich and famous. An important aspect to address is how the film adaptation illustrates the novel's original historical context. In a way, the critic is offering his readers a way of understanding the duality that is required in comprehending the text and the author. The director took this into consideration during his research and finally adapting the novel to screen, focusing mostly on the psychological aspects of the text.
The film starts with Nick in a psychiatric ward where he relates the story of his neighbor Gatsby through a flashback and the film ends with Nick back in the ward, thus adding to his flashback narrative a psychoanalytic dimension. The novel has always been difficult to interpret due to the open-ended questions Fitzgerald leaves for readers to unfold and understand on their own terms.
Taylor offers a different perspective of The Great Gatsby, in which the novel is currently being used to challenge the idea that America will not have the same opportunities for the American dream as it had in the s. The director has influenced his audience through his vision and recreated Gatsby as an underdog who falls for someone out of his reach.
Instead in the version, the music represents a new interpretation of old-meets- new. The sound track represents how the youth would have looked back and enjoyed some of the tunes used in the past, while also adding some new flavor. Even the fact that the genre of music that was chosen was hip-hop represented how the American dream has shifted from Wall Street to the recording studios. Luhrmann repeatedly and distinctively chose to address race both explicitly and implicitly in the film, in order to display racism of the s that may still apply in the minds and experiences of twenty first century audiences.
In the production of the film, not only has the American dream been affected by the entertainment industry, but the economy has been influenced greatly by this new culture of emulating the leisure class. Grissom Fitzgerald was a writer who knew his work was going to be discussed by future generations. The critics continue to ponder his artistic vision and argue whether it represents the typical and persistent American Dream or criticizes its very destructiveness and impossibility in a world where the rich exploit the poor.
After closely examining these three adaptations one can argue that each film brings to light during the time of production how The Great Gatsby adaptation was received by the general public and contemporary viewers. In viewers were not able to perhaps fully comprehend the significance of the novel during an awkward transition between the strict Hays Code and free artistic expression. However, in the adaptation, when film makers were allowed more freedom in terms of their content, the director was perhaps not able to capture the essence and spirit of the novel because of the temptation to try and generate as much income to make up for his investment.
The film focused more on creating a movie to attract viewers who wanted to see a more sexualized view of the novel. Finally, in , the director wanted to revive the novel and illustrate the importance of the main thematic properties that Fitzgerald is likely to have wanted his readers and viewers to experience. The adaptation focused its attention on giving the audience an opportunity to see the main character, Gatsby, not as a criminal, but a man trying to get ahead using any means necessary.
All in all, the reception of these three adaptations has created controversy among film critics and contemporary audience. A debate ensued as to which of the films best captures the spirit and message of Fitzgerald. I wanted to discover why it received a negative reception during the time of publication and why it is currently being revisited.
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The novel has been analyzed in many fields of study and has captivated its readers when taught in classrooms. It has been adapted into different forms of media throughout the last decades. Fitzgerald produced this novel with the intent of making this work of art his legacy. However, the audience readers during the s did not appreciate or understand his style or technique as they did afterwards.
It is a novel ahead of its time and continues to speak to us, representing both a period literary work that captures USA in post WWI as well as depicting a universal theme of desire, wealth, and eventual fall. When reviewing the literary reception of the novel one notices how each critic has chosen to investigate the novel from different perspective. This in turn influenced a more positive perception of the novel after the death of Fitzgerald, appealing to readers interested in fiction that lends itself to multiple interpretations.
Readers interested in any field—be it literature, economics, history, race, or gender—would find something of relevance in it. However, in the early s the novel received great reviews when the many film adaptations started to shed light on the concept of social mobility and the American dream. But for the last half a century and more, The Great Gasby engaged the public and remains the focus of critical debates. Different critics have found various angles to analyze The Great Gatsby, precisely because it offers so many themes—ethical, economic, social, erotic, etc.
The novel addresses economic factors and has been a source of criticism of the capitalistic society in the U. The class culture of society has changed drastically since the Roaring Twenties because of the ability to purchase products and homes on credit has given the lower class opportunities for mobility. The definition of class has become more elastic and status symbols are often acquired by the lower classes even if through borrowing.
During the Roaring Twenties one of the main factors of moral decay and also one of the main themes in The Great Gatsby is illegal bootlegging of alcohol. During the s the Hays Code forced the movies that were typically produced to warn and display how the corrupt actions of those who broke the moral and ethical boundaries would be punished. Where the film falters, if it does, is in the effort to present a suspenseful story. Then we learn our trade, well or less well, and we tell our two or three stories—each time in a new disguise—maybe ten times, maybe a hundred, as long as people will listen.
Through King, Fitzgerald saw the opportunity to be accepted into the wealth that the King family represented. This double vision matured as he gained objectivity toward his material. With these cornerstones, Fitzgerald constructed a set of novels that document the development of one of the most complex and fascinating literary personalities of modern times, which chronicle a time of unparalleled frivolity and subsequent national despondency in America, and that speak with authenticity about an international wasteland almost beyond reclaiming.
The route that Amory follows to arrive at this pinnacle of self-knowledge is more a meandering process of trial and error than it is a systematic journey with a clearly defined purpose. His mother, whom Amory quaintly calls by her first name, Beatrice, and whom he relates to as a peer, instills in Amory an egotism almost unbearable to his own peers as well as to the reader and a respect for wealth and social position. These qualities make Amory an object of ridicule when he goes away to an eastern boarding school. His years at St. After learning from these individuals, Amory either leaves or is left by them.
From Clara, a cousin whose beauty and intelligence he admires, he learns that he follows his imagination too freely; he learns from his affair with Rosalind, who almost marries him but refuses because Amory lacks the money to support her, that money determines the direction of love. Through Monsignor Darcy, he learns that the Church of Rome is too confining for him; and from half a dozen of his classmates at Princeton, he discovers the restlessness and rebelliousness that lead him to reject all that he had been brought up to believe, reaching out toward socialism as one of the few gods he has not tried.
Readers may wonder how Amory, whose path has zigzagged through many experiences, none of which has brought him closely in contact with socialism, has arrived at a point of almost evangelical, anticapitalistic zeal. It is worth noting, however, that, in addition to its interest to literary historians as an example of the Bildungsroman , This Side of Paradise also has value to social historians as an enlightening account of jazz age manners and morals. More than any other writer of these times, Fitzgerald had the sense of living in history.
He tried hard to catch the color of every passing year, its distinctive slang, its dance steps, its songs. I took the book to bed with me, and I still do, which is more than I can say of any girl I knew in In it are contained early versions in rough form of most of the novels that Fitzgerald later wrote. Even in the characterization of Amory, who is born moneyed and aristocratic, Fitzgerald seems to be creating his ideal conception of himself, much the way Gatsby later springs from his own platonic conception of himself. With his subject matter, his themes, and his distinctive stamp already formed, Fitzgerald needed only to find a point of view by which he could distance himself, more than he had through Amory, from his material.
He had yet, as T. Written in the third person, it shows Fitzgerald dealing in a more objective fashion with biographical material that was close to him, in this instance the early married life of the Fitzgeralds. In spite of the differences between the two novels, however, particularly in narrative perspective, it is clear that the characters and subjects in The Beautiful and Damned are logical extensions, more objectively rendered, of those introduced in This Side of Paradise , making the former a sequel, in a sense, to the latter. Add to Amory a heritage that links him to Anthony Comstock, a mother and father who died in his youth, a multimillionaire grandfather, and half a dozen years, and the result is a reasonable facsimile of Patch.
When Fitzgerald created Rosalind, Zelda had for the time being rejected him. The novel could logically end there, but it does not. Instead, its long conclusion leads the reader through a maze of melodramatic circumstances and improbabilities. Gloria and Anthony contest the will and, with dwindling funds, sink into despair and self-destructiveness. Gloria auditions for a part in a motion picture and is told that she is too old; Anthony remains drunk, tries unsuccessfully to borrow money from friends, and finally gets into a senseless fight with the film producer who has given Gloria the news that she is too old for the part she wants.
On the day of the trial that will determine whether the will is to be broken, Anthony loses his mind and is capable only of babbling incoherently when Gloria brings him the news that they are rich. The major flaw in the novel is this long, melodramatic ending and the thematic conclusions it presents.
The effect of the ending is to leave the reader with the impression that Fitzgerald had not thought the theme carefully through; or, as Edmund Wilson hints, that Fitzgerald himself had not taken the ideas in either of his first two novels seriously:. The greater truth suggested by Wilson here is that through Fitzgerald was writing, in part, what he thought he should write. Critics have marveled that the author of This Side of Paradise and The Beautiful and Damned could in fewer than two years after the publication of the latter produce a novel of the stature of The Great Gatsby.
The process by which Fitzgerald came to create The Great Gatsby is a logical one. From the beginning of his career as a novelist, Fitzgerald stayed with the subjects and themes that he knew well and that were close to him: wealth, youth, and beauty. However, he was also near enough in memory that he could recall, even relive, the seductiveness of her world; that is, he was still able to be the romantic hero, Jay Gatsby.
In effect, he had reached the pivotal point in his life that allowed him to see clearly through the eyes of both Gatsby and Nick; for the time of the creation of The Great Gatsby , he possessed double vision. On a more general level, the reader must believe that anyone in America, through hard work and perseverance, can and cannot gain access to the best that America has to offer. The central scene in The Great Gatsby nicely illustrates how Fitzgerald is able to present his material in such a way as to create dramatic tension through the use of double vision.
This scene, which occupies the first part of chapter 5, is built around the reunion of Gatsby and Daisy after a five-year separation. The years, for Gatsby, have been devoted to the obsessive pursuit of wealth, which he wants only because he believes it will win Daisy for him. Daisy, who has married Tom Buchanan, seems to have given little thought to Gatsby since her marriage. The moment of their reunion, then, means everything to Gatsby and very little to Daisy, except as a diversion from the luxurious idling of her daily existence. When Gatsby leans against the mantel, the clock teeters on the edge, deciding finally not to fall.
The three stare at the floor as if the clock has, in fact, shattered to pieces in front of them. On the level of plot, this scene is the dramatic high point of the novel; the first four chapters have been devoted to preparing the reader for it. All of these scenes have come to the reader through the central intelligence, Nick, who has learned from Jordan Baker a truth that, at this point, only Gatsby, Jordan, and Nick know: Gatsby wants to turn time backward and renew his relationship with Daisy as if the five years since he has seen her have not gone by.