Creating Sympathy For The Great Gatsby

2290 words - 9 pages

Creating Sympathy for The Great Gatsby

     In the text, The Great Gatsby, the author, F. Scott Fitzgerald leads us to sympathize with the central character of the text, Jay Gatsby. Fitzgerald evokes our sympathy using non-linear narrative and extended flashbacks as well as imagery, characterization and theme. Through these mediums, Fitzgerald is able to reveal Gatsby as a character who is in an unrelenting pursuit of an unattainable dream. While narrative and imagery reveal him to be a mysterious character, Gatsby's flaw is his ultimate dream which makes him a tragic figure and one with which we sympathize.


In the opening pages of the text, we are introduced to the main characters through the believable and trustworthy narrative of Nick Carraway. We discover that Nick is a moral character who is disenchanted with society after returning from the East. Throughout the text, Fitzgerald uses Nick's narrative to guide our response to the central character of the text, Gatsby, whom Nick states, "represents everything for which I have unaffected scorn." Nick's narrative also reveals the weak and shallow characters of Tom and Daisy. Nick's ability to recognise this emptiness and compare it with Gatsby through imagery shows the effectiveness of Nick's narrative. The strong image of Gatsby reaching out toward the green light can be juxtaposed to Tom and Daisy whom Nick describes as being "careless people." Nick's references to Daisy's voice and his attraction to her voice as "glowing and singing", emphasises that we can trust him as a narrator as he too is vulnerable to temptation and worldly beauty. This concept of Nick being a character that is "within and without" leads us to trust him as he does not know everything and is subject to everything that Gatsby is subject to.  Nick's strong morality, illustrated when he states that he wishes the world would stand at a "sort of moral attention forever", leads us to trust him as a narrator and thus, our response is stimulated by his feelings which are clearly set out throughout the text. Fitzgerald uses Nick to lead us to sympathize with Gatsby whom Nick understands and sympathises with. 

Fitzgerald uses Gatsby's parties and the way in which Nick views them to reveal that whilst Gatsby is surrounded by shallow and vulgar people, he is above this. Fitzgerald also uses these parties to expose Gatsby's isolation which leads us to feel sympathy toward Gatsby. Despite the amount of people at the party, Nick observes Gatsby's seclusion and loneliness, "my eyes fell to Gatsby, standing alone on the marble steps". This evokes a great deal of sympathy from us as although Nick describes Gatsby in a warm and friendly way, "It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life", we now can see that Gatsby is a lonely figure. This sympathy is accentuated when Nick is the only person...

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