Sun 6 Jul, 2014 08:29 am
The prompt is: Choose a character from a novel or play of recognized literary merit and write an essay in which you (a) briefly describe the standards of the fictional society in which the character exists and (b) show how the character is affected by and responds to those standards. In your essay do not merely summarize the plot.
In the novel, The Great Gatsby, author F. Scott Fitzgerald criticizes American society through the eyes of his narrator Nick Caraway, as he watches the downfall and pathetic lives of what most believe to be achievers of the American Dream. Nick changes profoundly over the course of the novel and his transformation is just as intriguing as Gatsby’s dramatic story.
Nick Caraway, portrayed as plain, straight forward and “honest”, ends up being the novel’s most interesting character. He grew up in a family of “prominent, well to-do people” in Chicago. Nick lets the reader know he attended Yale, enjoys literature and considers himself one of those “limited” specialists known as a “well-rounded man”. He has now moved to the East to work in the bond business in New York City. He has connections with wealthy and important people, like his cousin Daisy and Tom, although he is not one of them. One starts to see Nick’s admiration of wealth and glamour when he describes his house as a “small eyesore” at a “consoling proximity of the millionaires”.
Nick seems to view himself as a respectable Midwestern boy with high standards for everyone he meets, including himself, and prides himself on maintaining his standards even in the corrupt, fast-moving world of East coast high society. He calls himself “one of the few honest people that I have ever known”. He also says, “I’m inclined to reserve all judgments”. However, it seems that the entire book consists of him judging one person after the other. Gatsby represents everything that makes Nick feel “unaffected scorn”, he describes Tom and Daisy as “careless people”, and Jordan as “incurably dishonest”.
During the course of the novel, Nick gets deeply involved in the world he is observing, both throughout his friendships with Tom, Daisy, and Gatsby and throughout his romantic relationship with Jordan. The deeper he gets involved in these relationships, the more careless and dishonest, he becomes. Jordan seems to be the only to realize this. She confronts him at the end of the novel and says, “You said a bad driver was only safe until she met another bad driver? Well, I met another bad driver, didn't I? I mean it was rather careless of me to make such a wrong guess. I thought you were rather an honest, straightforward person. I thought it was your secret pride.”
Nick then realizes he is now living a dishonest lifestyle. He lets the reader know he does not want to deal with the immorality of the high society people he has been associating with, yet he excludes Gatsby from this. This could be because Nick realizes he and Gatsby are not drastically different, they both want access to a world that they were not born into. This might lead the reader to believe Nick is fundamentally untrustworthy, blinded by his admiration of wealth and glamor, and his own failed attempts to access the world of the rich and famous. Others might think he is merely a morally upright narrator, giving us an uncompromising look at the consequences of undisciplined wealth. All in all, The Great Gatsby is a prominent work that illustrates how a society pressures a character and inevitably corrupts him.
A quick glance Liz suggests you write most expertly. However some if not most of us would consider much further analysis unreasonable
Nonetheless let me address just one sentence
In his novel The Great Gatsby, author (is this term not redundant?) F. Scott Fitzgerald criticizes American society through the eyes of his narrator Nick Caraway as he watches (describes? records?) the downfall and pathetic lives of whom most believe to be (might consider?) achievers of the American Dream
In any case Liz you can see how a critique of any thoroughness might require hours