Great Gatsby Notes

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Form, Structure and Language in the Great Gatsby

A key point for the structure is how Fitzgerald has played with the chronology; Nick's narrative starts in the present and then from about chapter 4 onwards he starts to integrate stories of Gatsby's past, however these are not in chronological order either! I think that this is because Fitzgerald understands that 1) the reader cannot absorb lots of information at once, 2) they will not understand/believe this information until they are interested in Gatsby and 3) it further builds the mystery surrounding his character.

Fitzgerald uses a patterning through the novel; the repetition of phrases or colors etc creates shades of meaning that when repeated the reader will recognize. These patterns thread their way throughout the story and adds richness of meaning to the novel as a whole. This links in to the 'scenic method of narrative construction'. Many scenes within the novel are parallel to or mirrored by others, most notably the party scenes. Also note the way in which Nick interrupts the main dialogue with supplementing information about characters and past events.

I think for form relevant things you can write about is that Nick is a narrator as well as a character, and so adds extra information to the plot and about characters. This makes it easier for the reader to understand the story. Also, as he writes in 1st person it can be seen as similar to a diary or a story of his past that he has written or is telling others.

Structure can be that it is mostly chronological but sometimes time does shift, it depends on the chapter. It often describes the past i.e. Gatsby's past. The structure follows the usual narrative; exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement. Chapters are often separated into different sections, based on the tension - as in when the setting or time changes it can be in a new section, often accompanied by a rise or fall in the tension. Pathetic fallacy is often used to create this tension.

Lots can be written about language. A lot of phrases can be analysed. You could think of the context and how this may have influenced the phrase i.e. expectations of women in 1920's, alcohol prohibition, etc, however this does not need to be included in A02 questions (in England anyway).

There are many alternative interpretations of the understanding of the language, form and structure of the text and you should explain some when writing an essay.

As for form, I really struggle with it, mainly because it overlaps with structural elements. All I can think of for Great Gatsby is the narrative voice/ 1st person perspective. Nick gives character insight, changes the tense, tone etc. Nick is both a participant and observer. I think what I said before about the scenic method is also form... and is symbolism form?

Is the Great Gatsby a tragedy genre or a romantic strory?
The novel is really a story within a story, for Nick Carraway, the frame narrator of Gatsby’s plot, is really a protagonist himself. Additionally, there is another subplot revolving around the triangle of Myrtle, Wilson, and Tom. Much of the story is also told as flashbacks, so the chronological order of the plot is constantly interrupted. Fitzgerald, however, masterfully intertwines all the plots and all the flashbacks into a wonderfully unified whole.

Gatsby’s plot is much more complex, for it unfolds through a series of flashbacks and really begins long before the chronology of the actual story told in the novel.

There are many things that help to hold the plots and subplots of the novel together. Fitzgerald carefully weaves repetition throughout the book. The introduction to Gatsby is the image of his standing in his back yard reaching out to the green light (symbolic of his dream) that is located at the end of Daisy’s dock across the bay. Throughout the book, Gatsby is reaching out to try and capture Daisy, but she always seems just out of reach, like...
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