Techniques Used in the Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby.
Britain: Penguin, 1926. 1. Point of view – the view or perspective of how the story is narrated (i. e first person) “Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction – Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. ” (pg. 8) • This novel is narrated from a first person point of view. Nick Carraway is both a narrator and a character participant in the story.
Seen that this novel is mostly about Jay Gatsby and how what happens to his life is narrated to represent general themes, there could be no other narrator than the character who is Gatsby’s neighbor, and someone who declares to be free of any preconceptions or judgments due to an important lesson his father taught him. Nick Carraway seems to be a narrator exempt from bias due to this aspect of his profile, and he leaves clear what are his specific opinions or observations. 2. Tone – throughout the connotation and denotation of words, it is what gives a mood or attitude to the story No – Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men. ” (pg. 8) • The narrator keeps his tone always dry and realistic. This helps the readers understand that even though this seems like a romantic story due to Gatsby’s unconditional love for Daisy and his pursuit for his dream, it is completely sucked in by reality from beginning to end. When the narrator talks about love or dream he does not idealize them by using words with positive connotation.
He is clear and concise about the relationship between those who love and how they love. In the example above for example, the narrator clings on to disillusionment and even pessimism as he foreshadows Gatsby’s fate. 3. Imagery – the creation of a mental picture through detailed description “It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… And one fine morning – So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. ” (pg. 188) • In this passage the author is able to create two clear mental pictures to convey his message.
One is of men stretching further and running faster – though we can picture that his true intention is to suggest that mankind is trying to grasp what seems far from their reach, like Gatsby trying to grasp his American Dream throughout five years of his life. The second imagery is of the boat tiredly pushing against the strong current, and with that any reader can understand that individuals have to strive against the repressive society in order to adhere what they truly want. 4. Symbol – using one smaller idea to represent a larger one “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. (pg. 188) • The colors in this novel are used to represent greater ideas or they give specific significances to characters’ profiles or the environment in each scene. In this last moment, the green light Gatsby believes in is his dream. The color green itself is a representation of hope or faith. Also, in a specific part of the novel, the light emitting from Daisy’s house has a greenish hue, corroborating the fact that this is what he has longed so much for. 5. Irony – when there is an outcome of events that is opposite to what was expected initially The minister glanced several times at his watch, so I took him aside and asked him to wait for half an hour. But it wasn’t any use. Nobody came. ” (pg. 181) • This quote is in relation to Gatsby’s funeral. This can be considered an irony since at the beginning the impression that Nick had about Gatsby was that he had many friends and was extremely popular due to all the parties he threw at his house. Yet, when he dies and has no longer anything to offer to society, he is alone and none of the plenty of people who came to his parties even cares or remembers him then. 6.
Mispronunciation – when words or full sentences are written exactly as they sound to emphasize the tone and profile of the character “Oh, my Ga-od! Oh, my Ga-od! Oh, my Ga-od! Oh, my Ga-od! ” (…) “What you want, fella? ” “What happened? – that’s what I want to know. ” “Auto hit her. Ins’antly killed. ” “Instantly killed,” repeated Tom, staring. “She ran out ina road. Son-of-a-bitch didn’t even stopus car. ” (pg. 145-146) • Being a realistic novel, Fitzgerald compromises to every small detail of reality. In this example, readers can easily see the difference in accent and pronunciation of the three people having a dialogue.
The officer, being from a lower social class, and therefore imaginably less educated, skips sounds when he says certain words such as “ins’antly” instead of instantly, “fella” instead of fellow and “stopus” instead of stopped. With these mispronunciations Fitzgerald enables a brief and careless speech. Wilson’s quote (“Oh, my Ga-od! ”) also tells a lot about the character and justifies the murder by the end of the book. He is also part of the rough, low class, uneducated, and in this case angry and desperate.
The officer and Wilson stand as contrast to Tom who presents a complete and fluent speech that proves that his wealth bought him education. 7. Repetition – to use the same word, phrase or sentence repeatedly for emphasis or another purpose “In his blue gardens (…) I watched his guests (…) or taking the sun on the hot sand of his beach while his two motor-boats slit the waters (…) On weekends his Rolls-Royce (…) while his station wagon scampered like a brisk yellow bug to meet all trains. ” (pg. 45) • In this passage readers are able to clearly notice the repetition of the possessive pronoun “his”.
Fitzgerald chooses to do this in this specific part because the narrator is describing one of the parties at Gatsby’s house. By repeating that everything is “his”, or belongs to him, the narrator emphasizes Gatsby’s abundant wealth. Fitzgerald is creating the image of a rich and ostentatious man. 8. Flashback – the narrative of an event outside the present timeline in order to provide background information to the events “James Gatz – that was really, or at least legally, his name. He had changed it at the age of seventeen (…)” (pg. 104) Throughout the novel there are many stories being told about what Jay Gatsby’s past was like, and what made him become who he is now. Gatsby himself tells Nick in the present timeline of the story, a specific version of how he was educated and how he became wealthy. It is finally due to this flashback that the readers learn the accurate story about Gatsby’s life, including how he earned his money. 9. Charactonym – when a character’s name has some significance to his profile in the novel “I’ve heard it said that Daisy’s murmur was only to make people lean toward her; an irrelevant criticism that made it no less charming. (pg. 15) • The character Daisy Buchanan can be compared to the actual flower “daisy”. Just like the most common daisy, the one that is yellow on the inside and white on the outside, the character appears to be something that she is not. She uses excessive amount of white powder to prove her purity and innocence, but inside she is sardonic and superficial. Like a flower, she is delicate, charming and beautiful, but throughout the novel she proves to be interested in wealth and luxury, and underestimates Gatsby’s true love. 10.
Dramatic irony – when the readers know something about the plot that one or more characters might not know “Was Daisy driving? ” “Yes,” he said after a moment, “but of course I’ll say I was. ” (pg. 150) • In this passage the readers find out that even though it was Gatsby’s car being driven, it was actually Daisy who was driving it and who was guilty of killing Myrtle Wilson. If Mr. Wilson had known about this the ending would be different since he would not have killed Gatsby. Daisy’s shallow personality kept her from assuming the blame, and instead she just moved away with Tom to escape from the guilt.