Point of View in the Great Gatsby

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Point of view is a critical narrative technique that F. Scott Fitzgerald frequently manipulates throughout The Great Gatsby (1925) to manipulate and shape the reader’s response to the various issues explored. Point of view (in fictional writing) is the narrator’s position in relation to the story being told. Through the first person and sometimes third person limited retrospective narrative voice of Nick Carraway, Fitzgerald invites us to condemn or condone various aspects of “the roaring twenties” in American society. Some of the issues explored include class dichotomy, the position of women within society and prejudice. Nick’s character is constructed so as to have a biased and judgmental nature and throughout the text his descriptive account of events are often subjective, distorted by time and unreliable. Other characters provide opinions and accounts within the text such as Jordan Baker’s narration for example “one October day in 1917.” However our response to other characters narration is filtered through Nick’s retrospective account of the entire plot. As readers we experience the events of the plot through Nick Carraway’s character but in terms of individual response Nick merely acts as a filter in terms shaping out understanding of 1920’s America and the issues questioned by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The pivotal issue of class dichotomy is shaped by Nick Carraway’s descriptive narration and distorted by his own character construction and participation within the plot. Nick’s portrayal and subjective opinion of class is effected by the fact that he is from a wealthy family “my family were prominent well-to-do people” and even though he recognizes himself as being “snobbish” he still actively condones the concept of class distinction evident when he says “I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parceled out unequally at birth.” Nick...
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