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Fate and Free Will in Slumdog Millionaire and The Great Gatsby

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The 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire that was directed by Dany Boyle and the novel The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald published in the year 1925, explores the truth of fate of both protagonists regardless of their social context. The director and the author used representations, symbolism, and imagery to open the eyes of contemporary audiences to demonstrate the power of fate. This extraordinary playwright and author included an imagery descriptive and figurative language that emphasize the values, attitudes, and beliefs.

Brilliantly, the author of the book and the director of the movie have an opposite social context of their protagonists. The novelist generated Gatsby to be the protagonist – wealthy and a powerful man and this is in contrast to the protagonist of the film, Jamal, who came from the slums of Mumbai and works as a tea server.

The representation of fate of both protagonists’ relationship was shown in different text types, novel and film. Interestingly, each of these works depicts a character pursuing a love interest. Here are two characters Gatsby and Jamal from very different social environments who had very different outcomes in their pursuit of a love interest. Gatsby’s free will in choosing to believe he could win back the love of his life Daisy through his wealth and social success. Notably, this belief is represented successfully in the line “Can’t repeat past? Why of course you can!” in which it shows how Gatsby’s fate of reuniting again with Daisy. However, in an added chapter of the novel, in the end, Gatsby’s plan turns out to be out of his control. As he comes to realize this, Gatsby accepts death as and blames himself for Myrtle’s loss. Eventually, Daisy chose to stay with Tom. Gatsby chooses to try to win her back, but fails. Furthermore, this shows that Gatsby’s wealth and status doesn’t matter. This is in contrast to Jamal’s situation in scene 7. Jamal in the Slumdog Millionaire chooses to enter the game show ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ as he believed that it is the best way to find Latika and he won. After the show he goes to train station and sees Latika. This is where he lived happily ever after (it is written). Obviously, the representation of fate was faced throughout the stories. Both stories shared with the audiences to show that money can’t buy happiness. But fate controls much of what happens in both works, helping Jamal and stopping Gatsby.

As Slumdog Millionaire and The Great Gatsby are apparently an opposite text, both Boyle and Fitzgerald used symbolism to convey how fate is the true prevailing force. Regardless of the differing social status, both upper class and lower-class value money. Skilled author and playwright used monotonous symbolic of colours – green in The Great Gatsby and yellow in the Slumdog Millionaire – illustrating how the characters’ fate to attain wealth and consequently, worth it for their love interest. Remarkably, the greenlight is a symbol for Gatsby despite of his fate that through his wealth and money, he could win back Daisy but in the long run, he only ends up struggling himself and hunting his own lonely heartbreaking fate. “Gatsby believe in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…… And one finding morning – So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”. By the same token, in Slumdog Millionaire the insistent of yellow is used in slums of Mumbai where the character spots Latika from afar at the train station, with her bright yellow dress and scarf before she was taken by the crime lord’s men in which it pushes Jamal to search for wealth. Jamal’s choices to join the game show “Who wants to be a Millionaire” ending in the ultimate happiness. Finally the film end up with happiness in the train station. This symbolic location of constant state of movement since the beginning of the movie, so them staying symbolizes settling down. Both Gatsby and Jamal value money as it is their belief it will give them worth and succeed. Yet the novelist and director’s knowledgeable use of symbolism, it Is made clear that whatever social class they belong, that does not always associate with a ‘happily ever after”. In other words, Boyle and Fitzgerald truly demonstrated the protagonists’ fate through the use of symbols in order to build the mood of both texts.

Without question, imagery strongly communicates the emotional fate and free will have on the protagonists in both Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Boyle’s The Slumdog Millionaire. Director and the writer used lighting in order to represent the darkness and depression that affect both Gatsby and Jamal. Gatsby making a choice to wait for Daisy using his wealth just turns out on hurting himself when he saw that Daisy shuts off her light in which it symbolizes that his dream to be with her again can no longer be achieved. “Nothing happened…… I waited, and about four o’clock she came to the window and stood there for a minute and then turned out the light”. Similarly, shadowy lighting is used in the film “Slumdog Millionaire” to express Jamal’s agony when his brother Salim chooses to let go Latika’s hand and she was left behind. Clearly, the representation of free will was demonstrated in both texts. However, the film and the novel show how destiny drives their choices. In the novel, Gatsby’s decision to wait for Daisy is not worth it at the end. Alternatively, in Slumdog Millionaire, even if Salim made a choice that broke Jamal and his aspiration, at the end Salim’s final words “God is great” repays Jamal and Latika with his own life. Therefore, through the use of symbolism by the author and director, it made clear that although the protagonists’ free will choices control their storylines, that does not always associate with a happy ending. 

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Fate And Free Will In Slumdog Millionaire And The Great Gatsby. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 28, 2022, from
“Fate And Free Will In Slumdog Millionaire And The Great Gatsby.” GradesFixer, 16 Dec. 2021,
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