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Modernism in Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby

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Words: 660 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 660|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Shifting Identities
  2. Disillusionment with the American Dream
  3. Fragmented Narrative Structure
  4. Conclusion
  5. Works Cited

Modernism, a literary movement that emerged in the early 20th century, sought to capture the complexities and uncertainties of the modern world. F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby, embodies the key characteristics of modernist literature through its exploration of shifting identities, disillusionment with the American Dream, and fragmented narrative structure. This essay will analyze several examples of modernism in The Great Gatsby, highlighting the ways in which Fitzgerald's work aligns with the conventions of the modernist movement.

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Shifting Identities

One of the central themes in The Great Gatsby is the idea of shifting identities, a characteristic feature of modernist literature. The characters in the novel constantly reinvent themselves, creating personas that blur the boundaries between reality and illusion. Jay Gatsby, the enigmatic protagonist, constructs a new identity for himself in order to win back his lost love, Daisy Buchanan. He transforms himself from James Gatz, a poor young man, into the wealthy and mysterious Gatsby. This transformation reflects the modernist desire to escape the constraints of social class and reinvent oneself in pursuit of happiness.

Similarly, other characters in the novel also grapple with shifting identities. Daisy Buchanan, for instance, presents herself as a charming and carefree socialite, but beneath her facade lies a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage. Jordan Baker, a professional golfer, projects an image of independence and self-assurance, yet she is plagued by her own insecurities. These shifting identities highlight the disillusionment and fragmentation that characterize the modernist era, where individuals are constantly striving to define themselves in an ever-changing world.

Disillusionment with the American Dream

The Great Gatsby explores the disillusionment with the American Dream, another prominent theme in modernist literature. The novel portrays the 1920s, known as the Roaring Twenties, as a time of excess and materialism, where the pursuit of wealth and success overshadowed moral values. The characters in the novel are driven by their desire for wealth and social status, believing that these will bring them happiness and fulfillment. However, Fitzgerald challenges this notion by exposing the emptiness and corruption that lie beneath the glamorous surface.

Gatsby's relentless pursuit of wealth and social status is ultimately futile, as it fails to win him the love and acceptance he seeks from Daisy. The lavish parties he hosts at his mansion are mere illusions, serving as a facade to hide his loneliness and longing. This disillusionment with the American Dream reflects the modernist belief that traditional values and ideals have become hollow in the face of rapid industrialization and urbanization.

Fragmented Narrative Structure

In addition to the thematic elements, The Great Gatsby also employs a fragmented narrative structure, a characteristic technique of modernist literature. The story is told from the perspective of the narrator, Nick Carraway, whose viewpoint is unreliable and subjective. The narrative is filled with gaps, inconsistencies, and fragmented memories, mirroring the fragmented nature of the modern world.

Fitzgerald employs various narrative techniques to create this fragmented structure. Flashbacks, for example, disrupt the chronological order of events, blurring the boundaries between past and present. This fragmentation reflects the modernist belief that reality is subjective and elusive, and that there is no single, objective truth.

Conclusion

In conclusion, F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby, exemplifies the characteristics of modernist literature through its exploration of shifting identities, disillusionment with the American Dream, and fragmented narrative structure. The novel captures the complexities and uncertainties of the modern world, reflecting the modernist movement's desire to challenge traditional values and conventions. By analyzing these examples of modernism in The Great Gatsby, we gain a deeper understanding of the novel's significance within the broader context of the modernist era.

Ultimately, Fitzgerald's portrayal of shifting identities, disillusionment with the American Dream, and fragmented narrative structure in The Great Gatsby aligns with the key themes and techniques of modernist literature. Through his innovative storytelling and exploration of these themes, Fitzgerald invites readers to question the nature of reality, the pursuit of happiness, and the meaning of success in a rapidly changing world.

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Works Cited

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Scribner, 1925.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Modernism in Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/modernism-in-fitzgeralds-great-gatsby/
“Modernism in Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/modernism-in-fitzgeralds-great-gatsby/
Modernism in Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/modernism-in-fitzgeralds-great-gatsby/> [Accessed 23 Jul. 2024].
Modernism in Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 13 [cited 2024 Jul 23]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/modernism-in-fitzgeralds-great-gatsby/
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