The Contrastive Techniques in The Great Gatsby
[Abstract] The Great Gatsby, with it’s depiction of “the Jazz Age”, marks the highest point of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s artistic achievement. T. S. Eliot once concluded that it was the “first step that American fiction has taken since Henry James”. In this novel, the author successfully employed the contrastive techniques, which endow the novel with artistic glamour and profound connotation. This paper intends to illustrate the contrastive techniques in terms of scenes, characters as well as dream and reality. The significance of these contrasts lies in the fact that they help the readers to have a better understanding of the Jazz Age, the personalities of the main characters and the American dream. The careful deliberate employment of contrastive techniques not only testify to Fitzgerald’s craftsmanship in planning and developing the novel, but also contribute a great deal to the reveal of the tragic theme, that is, the disillusion of American dream. [Key Words] contrast, scene, character, dream, reality
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece The Great Gatsby shows us a vivid picture of the 1920s with its superficial prosperity and underlying sadness. The failure of American dream and the crisis of value are well reflected in characters and the details of the novel. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald skillfully employed the contrastive techniques in terms of scenes, characters as well as dream and reality. These techniques not only deepen the tragic theme, but also imparted the text a brand-new interpretation and profound artistic glamour. 2 The employment of contrastive techniques
2.1 The contrast of scenes
The author gives us a vivid description of various scenes in the novel, among which the most impressive are the sharp contrast between Gatsby’s parties and his funeral and the strong contradicts between the east and the west. These two pairs of contrastive scenes foreshadow Gatsby’s tragical destination. 2.1.1 The parties vs. the funeral
The Jazz Age is a time of broken dream, a time of flapper, a time of changes and a time of financial boom. It’s clearly reflected in the description of Gatsby’s parties. These parties are fashionable, but pointless. It is only a show-off of Gatsby’s riches and material success. The crowds hardly know their host; many come and go without invitation. The music, the laughter and the faces, all blurred as one confused mass, show the purposelessness and the loneliness of the party-goers beneath their marks of relaxation and joviality. All this is typical of “the Jazz Age”, when many people lose belief in American dream and indulge themselves in drinking and dancing. The great expectations which the first settlement of the American continent brings vanish, and so despair and doom set in. In his blue gardens, men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars….On week-ends his Rolls-Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city between nine in the morning and long past midnight, while his station wagon scampered like a brisk yellow bug to meet all trains. And on Mondays eight servants, including an extra gardener, toiled all day with mops and scrubbing-brushes and hammers and garden-shears, repairing the ravages of the night before. Every Friday five crates of oranges and lemons arrived from a fruiterer in New York----every Monday these same oranges and lemons left his back door in a pyramid of pulpless halves.” (Chapter 3, 52) The exavagent life, the noisy people constitute Gatsby’s parties. However, the depiction of the fashionable and meaningless parties serves to highlight Gatsby’s tragedy by contrasting the grandeur of his party with his violent death, with the frustration of his dream. Gatsby’s funeral is rather deserted and cheerless compared with his parties. It’s a record of human coldness. Nick has invited some people to come to Gatsby’s funeral....
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