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The Great Gatsby Analysis

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Category: Book Reports

Autor: anton 14 March 2011

Words: 2061 | Pages: 9

Diction:

In the Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald utilizes a heavily elegant and sometimes superfluous diction which reflects the high class society that the reader is introduced to within the novel. The speaker Nick Carraway talks directly to the reader. The diction is extensively formal throughout the novel using high blown language the borders on being bombastic. An example of this formal language is seen when Nick states,"The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God—a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that—and he must be about His Father’s business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty." The words "platonic" and "meretricious" elucidate a sense of the education of the speaker it also has a tone of almost superiority. The diction seems peculiar to the reader because of the formal tone which contrasts greatly with the sound of normal speech. Color and light imagery saturate the entire novel allowing the reader to see things in a new light or draw conclusions through different connotative innuendos. Irony is also observed through the use of this opulent diction because it contrasts with the character of Gatsby. Before Gatsby got into "business" he was a normal middle class man and he will always be that man no matter how many material objects he obtains. The language used in this novel reflects the speakers social class very clearly and the reader can see that most of the characters are part of the higher levels on the social ladder. There are also a few references to religious association scattered throught he book with characters such as the eyes of Dr. Eckleberg and the valley of ashes. Most of the novel is long and flowing with a euphonous rhythm. Fitzgerald uses much poetic language literary devices in this book making some sections sound profound.

Syntax:

In the Great Gatsby, the narration by Nick Carraway predominantly uses complex and compound complex sentences. An example of a typical complex sentence is when Nick says,"It faced, or seemed to face, the whole external world for an instant and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor." Fittzgerald does, however, use simple and compound sentences as well, most oftenly used in the few heated arguments within the novel and the lazy and relaxed comments of the characters. The sentences within The Great Gatsby are long and often twisted together forming a formal tone. This differs greatly from the simple and boring structure of common speech. This contrast with normality mixed with the irony of the situations creates a fake and almost pretended syntax. The sentences and word order are carefully thought out, especially by Gatsby himself in an attempt to impress Daisy. There are not many run-ons or fragments aside from the drunken ramblings of Gatsby's guests. The word order is not usually inverted and the characters get their points across through clever choice of words.

Passage1:

If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes then thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the "creative temperament"--it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. 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 6-7)

The diction in this passage is extremely elegant verging on the point of superfluous. It is a long description of Gatsby as someone whom nobody would forget through his extreme sensitivity and dedication. His hope for his dream influenced the dreamy and easy flowing language used in this passage. The tone is hopeful and dignified. Much detail is used and even some ironic detail such as Gatsby being "gorgeous." Even though one would not normally describe a man with such a word it fits perfectly in this sentence. The language is formal and it reveals Nicks positive view on life and on Gatsby. The syntax in this passage is made up of strung-together sentences and clauses. All of the sentences within this passage are complex or compound-complex. These long and airy sentences emphasize the tone of upper-class people speaking as well as the emphasis on a dream. The sentences are extensively poetic and carefully thought out giving it a nonchalant and superior tone.

Passage 2:

"I didn't call to him, for he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone - he stretched out his arms towards the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward - and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock. When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished, and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness." (pg 16)

The diction in theis passage is a little less elegant than the previous passage because this passage is reflective of Gatsby's true nature. It is one of insuperiority and one of a dreamer who sees his dream right across the bay but yet it is so far away. It elucidates Gatsby's fakeness and it emphasizes the reality of his situation. Gatsby's dream of getting Daisy back lowers his guard and takes off his facade of a wealthy and superior individual leaving the lonely Jay Gatz. The sentences in this passage are strung together by a series of dashes which indicate pauses in the narrators speeech. These pauses are reminiscent of normal language. The tone is curious and quiet. Color imagery reminds the reader of the connotations for money and pride. The syntax in this section is typical of Fitzgeralds style. It is filled with complex and compound-complex sentences which give the passage a soft and rhythmic flow and contribute to the intensity of the dream-like situation. Words like "intimation" and "unquite darkness" emphasize the dreamy air around Gatsby and the green light.

Passage 3:

Page 171 "I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes — a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder."(pg 171)

The diction in this passage is hopeful and positive. Words like "fresh, green breast" and "new world" and "tree" all evoke a hopeful and renewed tone full of optimism and excitement for the future. The passage also dicusses the concept of dreams within the novel as a whole. The diction in this passage is very formal and verges on the point of profound. It scatters very juicy words like "transitory," "aesthetic," and "commensurate," into the passage, which reflects the formality and opulence of the passage. The language is extremely poetic and flows euphoniously. The syntax in this passage is typical of Fitzgeralds complex style. The entire passage actually is one long compound-complex sentence that flows with the utmost fluidity. This complex sentence again reveals the dreamy and intuitive nature or the narrator.

Passage 1:

You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book , which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as i said before.

Passage 2:

“They tackled missionarying, and mesmerizing, and doctoring, and telling fortunes, and a little of everything; but they couldn’t seem to have no luck. So at last they got just about dead broke, and laid around the raft as she floated along, thinking and thinking, and never saying nothing, by the half a day at a time, and dreadful blue and desperate.”

Passage 3:

It was a close place. I took . . . up [the letter I’d written to Miss Watson], and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: “All right then, I’ll go to hell”—and tore it up. It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming.

I don't have a copy of TGG and it's copyrighted so there's no online version except for brief excerpts, but in the first couple

of pages of the book there is a 30-line passage in which there

is clearly something going on. This is the passage on p. 6-7

that runs "...Reserving judgements is a matter of infinite

hope...the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men."

The major part of this is a long paragraph about Gatsby, the

main character. The lines that apply to the question are:

"...after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that it has a limit...When I came back...I wanted

the world to be...uniform...no more riotous excusions with...

glimpses into the...heart. Only Gatsby...was exempt...If

personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures,

then there was something gorgeous about him, some

heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he was

related to one of those intricate machines that register

earthquakes ten thousand miles away."

These lines show alliteration, note the predominence of the

"s" sound, a sound that gets your attention because of

its association with whispering, good diction, note the description of Gatsy as "gorgeous," a loaded word not really suited to describing a man but very effective as used here,

and I'm not sure what the exact technical terms are but

there is the device of comparing him to a seismograph,

a very novel and effective comparison, and the backdrop

here of him saying he's stopped being a confidant to

men, except in the case of Gatsby, so there's the technique

here of "all except for ___," which grabs your attention.

The purpose of all this seems to relate to something like

establishing the mood of the book. Gatsby is going to

be the symbol or foundation around which the book is built with

much commentary by the narrator on peripheral issues.

(Note: I read the book long ago and I've completely forgotten

it, so I could be way off here.)

"I didn't call to him, for he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone - he stretched out his arms towards the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward - and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock. When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished, and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness." (16)

“If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life,…[Gatsby had] …an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.”

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