The Great Gatsby

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Compare and contrast the presentation on the destructive nature of love and desire in The Tempest, The Great Gatsby and Rapture. (Word count 3081)

The complexities of love and desire are repeatedly illustrated in all three texts. Shakespeare, Fitzgerald and Duffy depict the destructive nature of love and desire through the themes of greed, selfishness and obsession. These are conveyed through metaphors, similes and personification. The most prominent technique used by all the writers to demonstrate the power of love and desire as destructive is the use of foreshadowing and imagery; however, the desired effect of these techniques differs across the three texts.

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald illustrates the despair felt by Gatsby when he loses Daisy to Tom through the use of negative imagery. This is demonstrated by Nick when he comments on how Gatsby must have perceived the world in his last moments before he died, the leaves are described as ‘frightening’ and a single rose as ‘grotesque.’ The adjectives symbolise his troubled state of mind and Gatsby’s loss of purpose and disenchantment with beauty once he could not win the love of Daisy, clearly presenting the destructive nature of love and desire. Fitzgerald foreshadows a story of destruction and tragedy told by the narrator, Nick Carraway, about Gatsby. The tragedy is foreshadowed when Nick says in Chapter One, ‘it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams’ evoking images of tortured thoughts. The ‘foul dust’ indicates impurity which predetermines the corruption in the novel, such as the deceit of Daisy meeting up with Gatsby without her husband knowing, the affair between Myrtle and Tom, and Gatsby’s bootlegging, which is how he amassed his fortune. The theme of deceit runs throughout the novella and the hope of fulfilled desires are present in many of the characters. ‘Right through to the end’ Gatsby had desired the love of Daisy, therefore the novel centres on Gatsby’s attempt to make his lifelong dream a reality, even if she was already married. This shows love and desire to be destructive because it caused Gatsby to oversee the pain caused to others, such as breaking a marriage, in his attempt to gain love.

Duffy also foreshadows the ultimate breakup of the persona and her lover and the destruction of their love in the poem ‘Wintering’. The anthology is structurally chronological and the poems, although individually different, altogether present a journey of love, from the poem ‘You,’ where the persona is happy and in love, to the poem ‘Over’, where she says goodbye to her lover. In the poem ‘Wintering’ she writes of how she and her lover turn ‘love to pain,’ this oxymoron shows how love can easily be destroyed. Similarly to Fitzgerald, Duffy uses the disenchantment of nature to show the distressed thoughts of the persona. The garden is described to have ‘wept its leaves,’ the personification demonstrates the destruction and heartbreak felt by the persona and reflected in her surroundings. The tree losing its leaves could also be a metaphor for the persona losing the love she once had for her lover. Similarly, clouds are also personified, they are said to ‘sag beneath the burden of their own weight,’ signifying a burden that she is carrying and that she cannot endure. It could also be interpreted as the cloud, instead of releasing rain, is carrying a burden of tears which demonstrate the personas unhappiness and therefore the destructive nature of love and desire.

In contrast, Shakespeare shows the destructive nature of love through the use of pathetic fallacy and stage directions in The Tempest. Prospero is angry at his brother, Antonio, for betraying him and his daughter and making them suffer. He therefore punishes Antonio by using his control of nature. In Act 1 scene 1 Prospero uses magic to manipulate the weather, the stage directions of ‘[a storm with thunder and lightning]’ demonstrates the destructive nature...
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