Use of Contrast in the Great Gatsby

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Discuss the use of contrast as a literary device in The Great Gatsby byJeannette Ng
5.15

In the book, contrast is widely used to bring about the theme of class as well as to greater emphasize the characteristics of a particular character. The book contrasts the setting, West and East egg, as well as the characters, Gatsby and Tom, Wilson and Tom and Gatsby and Tom. 1Gatsby is contrasted with Tom in several ways. Tom is overpowering while Gatsby is more reserved. Tom is described as having ‘shining, arrogant eyes” and a ‘supercilious manner’. The word ‘supercilious’ shows that he is rather presumptuous and condescending, as echoed by the description of his eyes being ‘arrogant’, proud. In contrast, Gatsby, on the other hand, is the opposite, being more shy and reserved. Despite Gatsby throwing many parties, many of his guests ‘had never met him’ but ‘came and went without having met Gatsby at all’, even though Gatsby was the host and had been present for most of his parties. This shows that Gatsby as a person is rather unnoticeable, in contrast with Tom whose presence is very striking and memorable. Nick even sat at the same table as Gatsby without even noticing until Gatsby introduced himself as Gatsby, ‘surpris(ing)’ Nick. For a guest to not have recognized or even notice the host goes to show that Gatsby did not have a commanding presence but one that is inconspicuous. However, Tom has a very imposing presence, one that is hard to forget, compared to Gatsby. He has a large figure, with even his clothes not being able to ‘hide the enormous power of (his) body’. Tom carried himself with confidence, almost arrogance. His large figure was very striking and daunting, giving others the impression that he was above them and to be taken seriously. The way he spoke with a ‘touch of paternal contempt’ also shows that he is patronizing, as if looking down on others. This is in contrast with Gatsby whose presence is not noticed despite the many parties that he throws....
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