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The phenomenon of the writer's influence on the readers-descendants is well-known, but there is also a feedback: reading by subsequent generations opens new meanings in the work, gives them a new life in a different set of names and creations.
This is the fate of the novel "The Great Gatsby". Written simultaneously with Dreiser's novel, it continues the "American tragedy", or rather, the tragedy of humanity. In the pure American version, this is seduction by wealth that promises freedom, happiness, beauty, and reckoning: what is metaphorically labeled "loss of illusions" and what in reality turns into death on an electric chair or death from an undeserved bullet.
In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald managed to achieve what he considered the purpose of art, namely to leave a lasting trace in the mind of the reader, in his artistic memory, which not only carefully preserves the impression but creatively recycles it. In the book, a lyrical theme or dominant emotion is given to the protagonist and identified by Fitzgerald as "heightened sensitivity", as "a rare gift of hope," a romantic fuse”. But, named in the novel a special characterological feature of the main character, this emotion dominates everything that Fitzgerald created. This is, in fact, not only the theme of the hero, but the theme of the author and this is manifested in what is commonly called the atmosphere, tone, and spirit of the work.
All the characters of Fitzgerald are endowed with the "gift of hope," which makes them eternally young. They do not live by accomplishments, but by expectations, listening to promises of an unattainable future or an equally unattainable past. They are at that time, which represents the fusion of the ideal past-future and where the present is only an intermediary, reducing the past and the future together. This state determines the effect of the novel, its pulse, which is sometimes feverishly quickened, a hurried moment in joyful expectation, sometimes painfully-slow, delaying minutes in the anguish of guessing disappointment; it determines the fluctuations of his future-past time, impatient aspiration in tomorrow and regrets about the past. This state is expressed directly through the vital content: through the fates and characters of the characters. But even more indirectly, it is expressed through the form, that is, the structure of the novel, its composition, and imagery.
In the novel of Fitzgerald, imagery is not official or peripheral, it lies not in the outer surface layer, but in the depth, inside the very artistic idea or theme of the novel. And this idea develops not only through the plot and characters (which does not mean their unimportance), but bypassing the plot-narrative logic, through "grip", repetitions, variations of figurative leitmotifs. One should not think that imaginative novelty consists in the unusualness of metaphors or epithets found by the author, it is in the nature of imagery that was noted, and the traditional character of the image does not deny, but confirms it. An inexperienced reader may think that in the figurative sphere there is no fundamental difference between the novel by Fitzgerald and the novel by Dreiser and, similar in nature, they are similar in the choice of poetic means.