The Use of Language in the Great Gatsby

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In “The Great Gatsby,” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s use of language serves to develop the characters of Tom Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson. Fitzgerald’s use of specific details, particularly the juxtaposition of those details pertaining to Myrtle, portrays her as contradictory and superficial and Tom as a bullish and arrogant. Fitzgerald’s diction, dually connoting prosperity and deficiency, conveys Myrtle’s false sense of egotism and affluence and enforces the narrator’s disdain for both Tom and Myrtle. Myrtle’s transition from the slums in between the ‘Eggs’ and New York City is made apparent by Fitzgerald’s selection of details regarding her. Her change in dresses, the purchase of trinkets and perfume, and her methodical choice in taxi cab based upon its luxury interior are details that serve to depict Myrtle as superficial, yet her origins of the ashen slum contradict these actions. The juxtaposition of these details reveals that Myrtle feigns wealth and propriety due to her affair with Tom Buchanan. Tom’s brash comments following the frivolous purchase of a dog “Here’s your money go buy ten more dogs with it,” characterize him as brashly using his wealth to degrade and deny someone of lower socioeconomic stature, the dog seller. He repeatedly refuses to let Nick leave, saying “No, you don’t,” showing again that he believes he is powerful enough to keep an adult man for an undisclosed amount of time against his will because his own will is greater and stronger. While Tom is affluent, he lacks politeness and courtesy, believing that he can use his money to subdue and control others such as Nick and Myrtle. The diction of the passage connotes both vanity and deficiency. Words such as “regal,” “hauitlly,” and “pastoral,” connote a type of quiet and subdued perfection found with affluence. Fitzgerald’s description of the “long white cake of apartment-houses” reflects this, yet upon entering the apartment it is described as too small, “crowded,” and over furnished with...
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