The Theme of Appearance vs. Reality in Literature

Topics: The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jay Gatsby Pages: 4 (1496 words) Published: December 22, 2014
The dramatic presentation of the theme or issue can add greatly to the impact of a narrative text. I have studied the novel The Great Gatsby [GG] by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the film Citizen Kane [CK] directed by Orson Welles and the play Juno and the Paycock [JP] by Sean O’Casey as part of my comparative course. All three texts explore the theme of the appearance vs. reality, through the personalities of the principal characters, their relationships, the narration, symbolism and overall perception of the author or director. All three texts encourage us to question what we consider to be real, to make sense of our world and think about what is just surface appearance, and what is really deeper than that. The settings of GG and CK immediately challenge audience’s perceptions. The ostentatious displays of wealth encourage the audience to assume that the residents of these magnificent homes are satisfied. Gatsby mansion was a “factual imitation of some Hôtel de Ville in Normandy”. While Kane's mansion on a private mountain is called Xanadu, which is also the name of the capital of Kublai Khan's summertime Empire. The protagonists' estates mirror each other, they are vast and sprawling. Unlike Gatsby's mansion, however, Kane's is completely isolated. In the film Lealand says, "he was disappointed with the world, so he built one of his own, an absolute monarchy". In a key scene we are taking over a high metal gate and barbed wire, to a castle high on a hill covered in mist. This is our first view of Xanadu, it is dark and empty. This differs from our first visit inside Gatsby's home, which is full of people and seems like a vibrant and magical place, "in his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars". Fitzgerald shows the appearance first, whereas Welles presents us with reality. The dramatic presentation of both settings emphasizes the contrasting reality. These settings contrast greatly to...
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