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Compare How Settings And Societies Are Essential To The Mood In 'the Great Gatsby' By F Scott Fitzgerald And 'the Importance Of Being Earnest' By Oscar Wilde

2916 words - 12 pages

Oscar Wilde's 'The Importance of Being Earnest' and F Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby' are set in different historical and cultural contexts. However, there are common themes and moods that both writers create within these different settings to help convey their social comments. But there are also some important differences in how mood is created and in the themes presents to the readers and audiences. This exploration of the moods created by settings, should reveal a comparison in how setting aids the purpose of a text.'The Great Gatsby' and 'The Importance of Being Earnest' both reflect times when society was not as bright and cheerful as the upper classes tried to make it. People tried to create a mask of happiness, ease and freedom to hide the darker side of life being experienced by the lower classes. In 'The Great Gatsby' the reader gets a chance to see beneath the mask and catch glimpses of the darkness of society, the corruption in the upper classes and the misery in the lower classes. The reader sees people living amongst the ash heaps and the horrific deaths of Myrtle, Gatsby and Wilson that are brought about by Tom's greed. A destructive mood is created through Tom's violence towards Myrtle, Myrtle and Gatsby's murders and Wilson's suicide. In 'Scott Fitzgerald's Criticism of America', Marius Bewley describes 'The Great Gatsby' as "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." 2. I think that Bewley has found the essence of 'The Great Gatsby' with the description of the society as "corrupt". Tom and Daisy try to keep the mask in place but when it does start to slip, after Myrtle's murder, they leave before anyone has the chance to notice. Only, Nick and Jordan notice and comment on how Daisy and Tom "smash things up". This comment highlights and brings to the reader's attention the destructive features of the upper class attitudes.In 'The Importance of Being Earnest' the serious criticisms of society are hidden subtly, but are revealed in the comedy. Katherine Worth commented: "What is wrong with society, so the farce implies, is it's fatal inability to distinguish between the trivial and the serious". I agree with Worth and believe that this quote sums up the themes of the play beautifully. Wilde hides the serious gibes at society beneath the over emphasised and absurd trivial matters that many within the society at the time managed to overlook. This can certainly be seen through criticisms such as that of William Archer, a critic at the first performance of 'The Importance of Being Earnest', who described it as "a play that raises no principle". Yet through study of the text or watching a performance today the audience can quite clearly see the problems that Wilde identifies with this society. For example the abandonment of a child by a careless nanny, which today would be treated as a very serious...

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