Examine The Contradictions In The Great Gatsby, Including Its Narrative

2666 words - 11 pages

Examine the contradictions in The Great Gatsby, including its narrative

The novel moves on two levels: Fitzgerald makes you see the magic and
romance of Gatsby's vision of ideal love, dazzling the eye with
wealth; yet, at the same time, the narrator pulls us down to earth
revealing the immorality, waste and corruption of those who surround
Gatsby and cause his death.

Examine the contradictions in The Great Gatsby, including its
narrative styles.

One of Fitzgerald's main aims is to show the reader that the world he
illustrates in The Great Gatsby includes both dazzling wealth and
corruption, both of which are evident in American society of the
1920s. These work in parallel and come together as part of the same
society: the wealthy upper class. Straight away we see this as being a
contradiction, as the glittering surface impression of these wealthy
people conceals their true nature as an immoral, careless and
unsympathetic society.

This novel clearly does move on two levels. The author enables us to
look into the different worlds of money and romance (and whether or
not they can exist together), as it is not only a story of superficial
richness, but also of lost love and the use of wealth to regain it.
These themes alone are a contrast, as money is a matter of the mind
and love a matter of the heart.

Although Fitzgerald glamorises the lifestyles of the rich minority, he
also asks us to question how attractive money really is, by conveying
to us the destruction and unhappiness that huge wealth can cause
underneath its dazzling exterior.

We are led through the various events of the novel by our narrator,
Nick Carraway, who is also Gatsby's neighbour. Nick, despite being
surrounded by excessive wealth, is not a part of this society, and he
stands as the voice of morality amidst all the triviality and
corruption. We quickly realise that Nick is the only character with
any depth in the novel, and the comparison between himself and the
rich clearly displays the huge contrast between their priorities and

The author's aim is to show the reader the vulgar extravagance of the
upper classes, and to expose their corruption. The first insight we
get into the trivial existence of the wealthy is at one of Gatsby's
lavish parties. The parties are a means for Gatsby to show off his
unimaginable wealth, in an attempt to impress Daisy Buchanan, as he
hopes that their passionate romance might be rekindled. The reader
soon realises that Gatsby's love for Daisy has been his constant
driving force throughout the years they have been apart. Everything
that he has achieved has been part of the plan conceived by him to try
to win her back. We know that, though Gatsby is incredibly rich, his
is 'new money' and the speed at which he has made his millions hints
at the idea that he has earned this wealth through various illegal

'"Who is this Gatsby anyhow? Some big bootlegger?"'


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