This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

He Told Me (A Father's Word): Authoritative Discourse In The Great Gatsby

1320 words - 5 pages

Mikhail Bakhtin, in his essay "Discourse in the Novel," characterizes his theory of authoritative discourse as "the word of the fathers," in which previous external knowledge demands a "simultaneously internally persuasive" acknowledgement (532). Bakhtin explains further that this authoritative word is met with its influence intact and is therefore perceived as truth, finding its way into the point of view in which everything is examined. It requires complete commitment to its authority. Given its absolute authority, however, also requires that the follower accepts as true the "entire context framing it" and it "enters our verbal consciousness as a compact and indivisible mass" with no freedom to reject parts of the ideology when it no longer suits (Bakhtin, 533). It is consequently difficult for any transmission of thought or word to stand clear of this intrinsic dogma. In a novel that uses language as a device for uncovering the perceived identity of its protagonist, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby also shows evidence of this same external narration that attempts to achieve discrimination between classes and control the behavior that governs social conduct.

Fitzgerald's narrative strategy of using the character/observer Nick Carraway creates an ambiguity that distorts the reality of who the story is about and instead the story becomes about what the narrator sees and consequently interprets. In doing so, the author allows the reader to witness Nick's own authoritative scourse. By beginning the first chapter with Nick's account of his father's advice, Fitzgerald reveals the external narrative that governs Nick's interaction and comprehension of the events that unfold. Though the paternal counsel gives the impression of altruistic forgiveness for those with less "advantages", the underlying message that Nick comes to understand is far different.

I understood he meant a great deal more than my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parceled out unequally at birth (Fitzgerald, 2).

Nick's authoritative discourse is recognized and discarded when he sides with Gatsby late in the story. Nick emphatically announces to Gatsby, "You're worth the whole damn bunch put together," and realizes that it is the only compliment he ever gave him as he "disapproved of [Gatsby] from beginning to end" (Fitzgerald, 154). The accolade is remembered by Nick as his saving grace, acknowledging that he had been judgmental in his assumptions of Gatsby.

Gatsby's character is attacked, impugned, fabricated and speculated upon by virtually everyone in the book. As is evidenced in the party scene of chapter three, the gossip about Gatsby and his history becomes an authoritative discourse in itself as the partygoers are convinced of his background and various misdeeds stating, "somebody told me they thought he killed a man once"; "he was a German spy during the war'"; "he...

Find Another Essay On He Told Me (a Father's Word): Authoritative Discourse in the Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby: A Study in Social Class Behavior

1021 words - 5 pages . Understandably, a woman might seek a man who could ensure her financial stability. Unsurprisingly therefore, Myrtle Wilson complains the "only crazy I was was when I married him. I knew right away I made a mistake. He borrowed somebody's best suit to get married in, and never even told me about it" (Fitzgerald 35). Gatsby certainly becomes an extremely wealthy man, however his wealth is fickle and does not possess the strength and stability of wealth

Dishonesty in The Great Gatsby Essay

1514 words - 6 pages Lies are a treacherous thing, yet everyone tells a few lies during their lifetime. Deceit surrounds us all the time; even when one reads classic literature. For example, F. Scott Fitzgerald makes dishonesty a major theme in his novel The Great Gatsby. The falsehoods told by the characters in this novel leads to inevitable tragedy when the truth is revealed. Jay Gatsby, one of the main characters in the novel, fails to realize that

Symbolism in The Great Gatsby

2082 words - 9 pages Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald reached a celebrity status upon his publication of This Side of Paradise and attained all new heights of stardom after his release of The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald reveals a great deal about himself in The Great Gatsby as he ascribes aspects of himself to different main characters in the novel. Fitzgerald uses these symbolic characters to aptly represent humans and social classes in the Jazz Age, defined by the OED

Illusion in the Great Gatsby

1071 words - 4 pages see how everyone swoons over Gatsby, and is in utter disbelief that Nick does not know the great and all powerful Gatsby. Nick reacts to what everyone tells him about Gatsby in a calm way, as the objective narrator that he is. "Well, they say he's a nephew or a cousin of Kaiser Wilhelm's. That's where all his money comes from... I'm scared of him. I'd hate to have to get anything on me."(37) At this point, Nick has seen Gatsby for a total of

Love in The Great Gatsby

935 words - 4 pages to gather great fortune, built a great cross the bay from Daisy's house and, was throwing huge parties every Saturday night just in order to gain her back. Their next meeting was planned by Nick and Jordan when Nick invited her to tea at his home. Daisy went to visit Gatsby's mansion and she was impressed by his wealthy set of t-shirts. The affair kept going until it raised Tom's suspicion so, he started to investigate in the affairs of Gatsby. It

Narratology in The Great Gatsby

1791 words - 7 pages in The Great Gatsby that “[e]very narrative has elisions” (Bolton 190). These elisions are known as gaps within a story. Without gaps, the story will become drawn out, making the readers bored while reading. The objective is to get the readers to desire what is about to happen next. If the reader is not intrigued, the objective will not be reached. Because he himself is so closely involved with the story he tells, Nick has an interest in leaving

Symbolism in The Great Gatsby

532 words - 2 pages The Great Gatsby Symbols Throughout the book the Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, there are many examples of very simple things that have a deeper meaning or represent more than meets the eye. The book is narrated by Nick Carraway, and is about a man named Gatsby who throws huge parties where he doesn’t even make an appearance, all in an attempt to win back his lost lover Daisy who is married to Tom Buchanan. Gatsby is a big figure in

Moralism in The Great Gatsby

889 words - 4 pages is a girl who had caught a glimpse of the great life, but who lacked the courage to live it, someone who chose in the end to live the sophisticated life rather than the loving life" (Frohock 78). The reason behind Daisy's marriage to Tom is since he was wealthy and he had convinced her not to wait for Gatsby to return from the war. Early on in the book , she is portrayed as sweet and innocent. Her white and seemingly floating dress appeals to

Narratology in the Great Gatsby

2169 words - 9 pages matter; nor is his failure to win back Daisy; what matters is the supporting belief in the value of striving for a marvelous object, not its predictable disappearance and meaninglessness. In a significant shift in of the novel's final sentences, Nick unites Gatsby's effort with a general, if unspecified, national collective. Although to Nick, Gatsby seems at once completely unoriginal, extremely knowable, being with him, he notes, was "like skimming

Symbolism in "The Great Gatsby"

1190 words - 5 pages Symbol, as defined in the dictionary, is "Something that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used to represent something invisible", and plays a very important part in F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece The Great Gatsby. On the surface, it is a love story with a tragic ending, but if one looks deeper into the novel's many profound symbols and themes, one will find that it is a

Characters in The Great Gatsby

723 words - 3 pages replies ‘Five years next November’” (87). The fact that he keeps track that precise is a bit obsessive. Daisy tries to fool everyone. She wants them to think that she’s innocent and angelic, when in fact she is the opposite. Daisy is a spoiled brat. She is selfish, only caring about herself, or money. We learn this after Gatsby and Daisy reunite and Gatsby shows her his shirts. “ It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such beautiful shirts before

Similar Essays

Values Shown In The Book The Great Gatsby. The Author F. Scott Fitzgerald Shows What Values He Excepts And Rejects

585 words - 2 pages American way in the 1920s is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The book is told through the viewpoint of a man named Nick Carraway, who had recently made his wealth and moved from a Midwest town into the city. The reader experiences how the young wealthy people spend their lives by adultery, illegal operations, and partying. F. Scott Fitzgerald based the Gatsby and Nick on his own values of life, which gives you a little taste of what the author

Write An Extended Response Beginning With "He Told Me One Last Story. He Used His Aged, Ruined Voice Like An Old Man's Hands To Pick The Lock On His Past..."

2187 words - 9 pages He told me one last story. He used his aged, ruined voice like an old man’s hands to pick the lock on his past, on our past. I lay quietly in a web of tubes, wires and intravenous drips. We both knew that it wasn’t these things that kept me alive; it was his voice. I could still hear it, a warm, familiar rumble amidst the ominous beeps emitted by the numerous life-support machines designed to keep me alive. I was pinned to the bed like

Gatsby As A Fake, Desperate Hero In The Great Gatsby

1726 words - 7 pages lives and breathes for Daisy, the “nice” girl he loves, even though she is married to Tom Buchanan. Gatsby`s love may sound dedicated, but it is more obsessive because he lives in his dreams and will literally do anything to win Daisy`s heart. In Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby, Gatsby is not portrayed as being a romantic hero due to his attempts in trying to be someone he is not by faking his identity, by his selfish acts in desperation for

A Father's Actions In "He Was A Boxer When I Was Small"

851 words - 3 pages The negative influence factor which radiates from father, Don, in Lenore Keeshig-Tobias' essay, "He Was a Boxer When I Was Small," is a great example of how a parent's actions can brainwash and alter their children's future decisions in life. Author Keeshig-Tobias grew up in a miserable household raised by her feared, alcoholic father, who held frequent temper tantrums in order to establish his parental authority. Don has many flaws that make