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Great Gatsby -- a Theoretical Analysis
The Great Gatsby is one of the legendary novels written in the history of American literature. The novel intends to shed light on the failure of American dream that poor can attain whatever he wants and emphasizes on the hardships presented by the strong forces of social segregation. In order to understand this novel, there are various theories which tend to be helpful in order to understand various angles of this novel. Some of these theories are Freud's psychoanalytical theory, Marxist theory and Feminist theory. Each theory presents a different lens of looking at the same story and presents an ideology ruled by social factors and individual desires.
In The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway is the lead character and the story surrounds around him. He is a young chap from Minnesota who later on moves to New York. The main purpose of moving here in 1922 was to learn about the bond trading. After renting a house in the West Egg district of Long Island (which is a residential area for the elite class however is rather unfashionable; the place is famous in Nouveau riche who have recently made big fortunes and lack elite social connection yet they show their money off. The most interesting character around whom the whole story of Nick Carraway rotates is his mysterious neighbor, Jay Gatsby. Jay Gatsby lives in a humongous mansion having a gothic exterior and is known for throwing parties full of extravaganza, every weekend.
Unlike the other residents of the West Egg, Nick was an educated young man. Studies at Yale and having sound social connections at the East Egg (which is a rather fashion place of Long Island, an established hub of the rich ones). One evening, Nick reaches East Egg for dinner with his cousin Daisy Buchanan, and her husband, Tom. Now, Tom was a former classmate of Nick while he was studying at Yale. During the dinner, they introduce Nick to a fine looking, cynical young lady with the name Jordan Baker. A romantic relationship begins between Nick and Jordan tells him a bit about the marital life of his cousin and her husband. Through Jordan, Nick comes to know that Tom has a lover who lives in the valley of ashes, a gray industrial dumping ground between West Egg and New York City. Soon after this revelation, Nick visits NY with Tome and his lover, Myrtle and stays in an apartment which Tom had kept for his affair. During a vulgar party, in response to taunting from Myrtle about Daisy, Tome breaks her nose.
As the summer moves on, Nick eventually got invited by Jay Gatsby to one of his famous parties having a legendary status in that area. During the party, an encounter with Jordan Baker amuses Nick. While he is talking to her, they meet Gatsby. Now Gatsby himself turns out to be a surprise package as he is surprisingly young man with a nice English accent, a dashing smile and who likes calling everyone "old sport." After Jordan has a word with him in private, Nick comes to know that Gatsby is in love with Daisy since 1917 when he knew her Louisville He fantasized her so madly that he has spent many nights staring at the green light at the end of her dock, across the bay from his mansion. Where Gatsby parties had a legendary status for being wild and full of extravaganza, it turns out that they were just an attempt of getting Daisy's attention. Nick was informed that Gatsby wants to reunite with Daisy and he wants Nick to help him out.
However, Gatsby further showed his fear about rejection from Daisy. However, Nick invites Daisy over for a tea and doesn't inform him about Gatsby' presence over there. After an awkward encounter, the romance between Gatsby and Daisy rekindles and they reinitiate their former affair.
After a while, Tom becomes suspicious about Daisy's relationship with Jay Gatsby. At an awkward meeting at lunch, he finds Gatsby staring at Daisy with such compassionate eyes that he immediately understands Gatsby's feelings for his wife. Although Tome himself had been involved in such an affair, the thought of his wife being unfaithful to him, outrages him. He sets up a meeting involving all the characters where he forced Gatsby to do a confession about his feelings. Furthermore, he asserts that he and his wife share a relationship that Gatsby will never understand and he also tell Daisy that Gatsby is a criminal who earns his fortune by bootlegging alcohol and other crimes. During this encounter, Daisy realizes that her adherence is to her husband. Tom sends haughtily sends her back to East Egg with Gatsby. This act was intended to prove that he is not scared of Gatsby and doesn't see him being capable of hurting Tom.
When Nick, Jordon and Tom drive back, on their way, they find out that Gatsby's car has struck and killed Myrtle, Tom's lover. They hurried back to Long Islands where Gatsby tells Nick that he wasn't driving the car but Daisy was and it is she who killed Myrtle but he was ready to take the blame. The next day, Tome meets Myrtle's husband George and tells him it is Gatsby who has killed his wife. Events made George realize that Myrtle's lover had killed him. Therefore, he hurries to Gatsby's mansion where he shoots Gatsby and kills himself too.
Nick arranges a small funeral for Gatsby detaches himself from Jordon and travels back to Midwest. All these attempts were intended for to get rid of the feeling that disgusts him about the people who were part of Gatsby's life. He deeply felt the emptiness in the life of the rich people and the way the life of people at East Coast was decaying away, morally. Nick further felt that just the way, Gatsby's desire for Daisy was polluted by money and dishonesty, the American dream of happiness and individualism has disintegrated into the mere pursuit of wealth. Though Gatsby's power to transform his dreams into reality is what makes him "great," Nick reflects that the era of dreaming -- both Gatsby's dream and the American dream -- is over.
The Great Gatsby through the Lens of Marxist Criticism
For understanding The Great Gatsby with reference to Marxist school of thought, we need to understand the philosophy of Karl Marx. Karl Marx was a philosopher and an economist from Germany. The basis of his theory was to emphasis on the fact that those who control the factors of production in a society bear the power to control it. Or in simple words, whosoever controls the factories controls the culture and social forces too. This very concept is called "dialectical materialism." Marx further emphasized that the social forces of the world are driving this society towards communism. As per Marx, the means of production will be governed by the masses (those who use it) and not by the owners of them. Marxism was considered as the reflection of poor's unanimous thought all over the world.
Marxist criticism is based on the economic theories of his. Rather than taking literature a work produced by an individual on the basis of his consciousness, Critics from Marxist school of thought believe that in order to observe and examine any work, it is necessary to relate it to any ideology which is related to any specific period. Such critics examine the work on the criteria of how it is portrayed as part of social actions and institutions (Beauvoi, 2006). Furthermore, how that work reflects any class's struggle, is another criteria. Given below are the claims of Marxist criticism:
History of humanity has shown evolution and so has it institutions. The ways of it, are also evolved and are determined by the "material production or basic economic organization" which has shown the changing mode.
Changes shown by history, in the methodology of production are causative factors in constitutional changes and variation witnessed in the power relations of the social classes and the struggle for economic, political and social change.
Human realization in any period of the history is governed by a set of beliefs, values and norms of the society. These beliefs provide a basis for human perception of the reality. A Marxist. A Marxist critic attempts to "explain" the literature in any era by examining the relation of the text to the economic and social realities of that time.
Marxist theory is critical in a manner because it examine literature with reference to power and money. Who owns the power and who doesn't? And what will be the result of this clash.
In order to read literature from Marxist perspective, one must realize the fact that Marxists believe that culture is reflected by literature and literature has a power of affecting culture even tendency of instigating revolution. Marx deals with sub-consciousness governed by political forces and believes that oppression is caused by this part…[continue]
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