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Narrative Viewpoint In The Great Gatsby By Fitzgerald

3677 words - 15 pages

Narrative Viewpoint

Gatsby is quintessentially presented to us as a paradoxical enigma. As the novel progresses this sense of mystery shrouding him is heightened. We see Gatsby through the looking glass, we catch frequent glimpses of him, yet only through Nick’s trained eye. We are, to a certain extent, unable to judge him for ourselves. Even so Nick is eager to depict Gatsby as a multi-faceted character, one who hides behind his own self concocted images of himself. Is this the ‘indiscernible barbed wire’? Is Gatsby himself the ‘foul dust that floated in the wake of’ his own ‘dreams’?

Indeed one of the unique features of this novel is the mystery surrounding it’s main character ‘Gatsby-the man who gives his name to this book’ This sense of inscrutability which is omnipresent with Gatsby is cleverly achieved through the narrative techniques which Fitzgerald employs. The most obvious, and also most effective of which is the narration from Nick’s perspective. Throughout this novel it is Nick’s views of Gatsby which we read, not Fitzgerald’s and not anyone else’s. Only Nick’s. And even Nick seems to be some what in the dark as to Gatsby’s character, he often switches tact throughout the novel on his impression of Gatsby. This seems to insinuate that he has been ponderous over Gatsby for some time. The reader gains the impression that Nick has made calculating decisions throughout the novel, in terms of what he allows us to know about Gatsby. He is after all writing in retrospect. The very fact that Nick still has an ambiguous attitude towards Gatsby even after his death, endorses the readers opinion of Gatsby as a character who can not be categorised. He is unique in literature, a character who we learn so little about even though the book itself has been written in his name. It is this presentation of Gatsby which has made his character infamous in literature. Throughout the novel we are scarcely in ‘touch’ with his character, and according to the extract, neither were those people surrounding him, for Daisy ‘was the first nice girl he had ever known.’

‘..What gave it an air of breathless intensity..Daisy lived was as casual a thing to her as..out at camp was to him’ For me this quotation helps emphasise truly the essence of how Gatsby’s character is depicted throughout this novel. He is the chameleon, interminably in pursuit of a further re-invention of himself. This quote perhaps show cases one of Gatsby’s original adaptations to the world around him, to become wealthy, to be significant. To become the ‘Great Gatsby’ and not to stay as ‘just’ James Gatz. Gatsby is depicted here as having seen Daisy’s way of life as the next plateau in his re development in character. Therefore, we query as to whether it was Daisy’s appearance and personality that attracted Gatsby to her, or her money and lifestyle. I...

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