The Great gatsby: Repeating The Past Through Rhetorics

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 761 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Aug 31, 2023

Words: 761|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Aug 31, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Metaphors of the Past in The Great Gatsby
  3. Imagery in The Great Gatsby
  4. Conclusion
  5. Works Cited


Throughout history, attempts in repeating the past have been a prominent and an ordinary action taken upon many individuals/countries. For instance, acts of genocide (such as the Cambodian Genocide) were more frequent following one of the first genocides known as the Holocaust. Although their motivations may have varied, it is evident that as a society we have a reputation for repeating actions from the past. Similarly, this idea of wanting to repeat the past is also expressed in a novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald called The Great Gatsby. In The Great Gatsby, repeating the past is depicted as an elusive and intangible concept, explored through various rhetorical strategies in the novel's first interaction between Daisy and Gatsby.

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Metaphors of the Past in The Great Gatsby

Fitzgerald first uses the clock on Nick’s mantle as a metaphor to demonstrate that one cannot recreate past. When Gatsby, Daisy, and Nick settle in Nick’s living room during the tea party, the text reads, “Luckily the clock took this moment to tilt dangerously at the pressure of his head, whereupon he turned and caught it with trembling fingers and set it back into place” (Fitzgerald). Freighted from his first time seeing Daisy in quite a while, Gatsby almosts knocks over Nick’s old clock that was on his mantle. Metaphorically, the old clock represents the time lost between Daisy and Gatsby during the 5 year separation between them. Gatsby saving the clock directly suggests that he is now “catching up”/making up the lost time. Moreover, the nervousness in Gatsby’s character at the time symbolizes his clumsiness in his attempt not only to stop time, but also to retrieve the past as he almost drops the clock. Gatsby catching the old clock also signifies that despite all his efforts to recover the past, time continues as the clock is saved and thus still functional. However, had the clock broken as they believed it was, this wouldn't have reshaped the outcome as clocks are replaceable and time is not a depletable resource. This suggests time is a concept that cannot be altered or feathered by an individual and despite any attempts in stopping time, it will continue for eternity.

Imagery in The Great Gatsby

Fitzgerald also implements imagery within the first interaction between Daisy and Gatsby to exemplify how the past is a standstill part of time that cannot be retrieved. During the period of time when all three of them first are in Nick’s living room, the text states, “Gatsby, his hands still in his pocket...trembling fingers...he then sat down, rigidly” (Fitzgerald). Through the description of Gatsby when he is reunited with Daisy, it is evident that he both nervous and anxious. Despite Gatsby’s dream and what he has worked for for the past 5 years literally and figuratively standing right in front of him, Gatsby still expresses immense nervousness which implies that he may not be as ready for his dream as he had initially thought. This also goes into the breakdown of Gatsby’s character himself as prior to this confrontation, Gatsby was a peculiar man who expressed little/no emotion. However, this is the first time in the novel where the fragile and more sensitive side of Gatsby is clearly expressed. Due to this “break” into his real character, it can be inferred that Daisy is possibly the only person who he shows affections and has real feelings for. This exhibits that Gatsby is willing to go to the farthest extent in order to recreate his past life with Daisy. Gatsby’s immediate change in character may suggest that the past cannot be recreated as throughout time, people change (for example their morals, beliefs, personalities, etc). So, even though one may want to recreate a moment in the past, it is impractical due to the fact that with time, the world around us and the people within it are continuously changing.

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In conclusion, Fitzgerald's use of both imagery and metaphors during the first interaction between Gatsby and Daisy allows for him to effectively express the theme of how one cannot recreate the past as time is impossible to retrieve. Throughout the novel, Gatsby's inability to comprehend how the past cannot be recreated drives him on this ceasingly and never ending path until reality eventually catches up with him. As a society, it is imperative to realize that we cannot retrieve/change the past nor the future. In order to be not only effective, but also to be cognizant, our primary focus should be on the present, the now.

Works Cited

  1. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Scribner, 2004.
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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

The Great Gatsby: Repeating the Past Through Rhetorics. (2023, August 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 26, 2024, from
“The Great Gatsby: Repeating the Past Through Rhetorics.” GradesFixer, 31 Aug. 2023,
The Great Gatsby: Repeating the Past Through Rhetorics. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 Feb. 2024].
The Great Gatsby: Repeating the Past Through Rhetorics [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Aug 31 [cited 2024 Feb 26]. Available from:
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