Modernism in the Great Gatsby

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What is real? In a modernist point of view the world shouldn't be called reality. But if the world isn't reality what is it then? What is reality in modernism? Modernism is a rejection of realism, which believed that science will save the world and where notion of science and social determinism is idealized. In modernism, science explains everything, which took away all the power of God, He became useless. In a way, life had lost its mystery, man, not God, could rule the world. Irving Howe, a literary critic, once talked about modernism as an "unyielding rage against the existing order". (Van Dusen, 1998) Nevertheless, modernism is also an era of disappointment; people are preoccupied with the meaning and the purpose of existence. They are in search of new values and in something new. Modernism first took place in the Jazz age and/or the roaring twenties; this period was all about prohibition and intolerance, flappers, gangsters, and crime. In 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment made it illegal to manufacture or sell alcohol. This helped to create a network of criminal organization in the trade of illegal alcohol. Moreover, in 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment gave the women the right to vote, which is what probably helped alter the traditional moral and social standards dramatically; women began to assert new freedoms such as going out with no chaperon, wearing less constrictive clothing, and smoking in public. During that time, a circle of writers was formed "The lost generation". They moved to more culturally vibrant cities of Europe, especially Paris, after World War I. "These writers, looking for freedom of thought and action, changed the face of modern writing. Realistic and rebellious, they wrote what they wanted and fought censorship for profanity and sexuality. They incorporated Freudian ideas into their characters and styles." (Whitley, 2002) These authors wrote about what they wanted and talk openly about sexuality. They created a type of literature appropriate to what they thought was the modern life, after World War I. They used new techniques and addressed new subjects in reaction to the changes of the early twentieth century.


One of the authors of "The lost generation" was F. Scott Fitzgerald. In modernism, Fitzgerald found a way to define his world. He lived a wild and tragic lifestyle in the course of the Roaring Twenties. His fictitious writings were actually reality-based and reveal some of his own struggles. His most renowned work is The Great Gatsby, which reveals a little bit more than what is on the surface. But how much did Fitzgerald makes modernism transpire in The Great Gatsby? In this short essay, I'll explain how The Great Gatsby is a modernist novel. I will also demonstrate how the Jazz Age is illustrated in the novel The Great Gatsby, through examples and quotations. Finally, I will exert the surrealism in the novel using short definitions, examples and quotations. MODERNISM IN THE GREAT GATSBY

First, The Great Gatsby is a truly modernist novel and set the tone for the movement that is renown today. But how exactly modernism is presented in this novel? Like I mentioned earlier in the introduction; modernism is a rejection of tradition and a hostile attitude toward the past. This transpires in the narration of the novel. First of all, it is a first person narrator. "Vision and viewpoint became an essential aspect of the modernist novel as well… The way the story was told became as important as the story itself." (VanSpanckeren, 2003) Moreover, the narrator is not really reliable. He fails to remember some parts of the story, because he was too drunk to remember. "I have been drunk just twice in my life and the second time was that afternoon, so everything that happened has a dim hazy cast over it although until after eight o'clock the apartment was full of cheerful sun" (p.33). At the end of Chapter II he wakes up beside Mr. McKee, who is in his underwear, looking...
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