Critical Studies:  The Great Gatsby

Critical Studies: The Great Gatsby

  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140771978
  • 144 Pages
  • Adult


Kathleen Parkinson places this brilliant and bitter satire on the moral failure of the jazz age firmly in the context of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life and times. She explores the intricate patterns of the novel, its chronology, locations, imagery and use of colour, and how these contribute to a seamless interplay of social comedy and symbolic landscape. She devotes a perceptive chapter to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s controversial portrayal of women and goes on to discuss how the central characters, Gatsby and Nick Carraway, embody and confront the dualism inherent in the American Dream.

Table of Contents

1. The Great Gatsby: A Novel of the 1920s

The Jazz Age: ‘It was borrowed time anyhow’
New York
The post-war mood
The post-war voice

2. A Novel of Intricate Patterns

The organization of The Great Gatsby

The chronology of events preceding 1922 in The Great Gatsby
The summer of 1922: events in the main narrative
1923-4: after the main narrative
A summary of events
The selective use of time as a narrative device

The relationship between the four locations of action
West Egg
East Egg
New York
The valley of ashes

Patterns of imagery
Death and ghosts
Imagery of nature:
The golden sun

The Sea

3. Alernative Worlds

The Buchanans’ glittering white palace
Daisy’s home in Louisville, Kentucky: the ‘white palace’ of the ‘golden girl’
Gatsby’s house
Gatsby’s first party in early summer
The history of Gatsby’s house
‘Silence had fallen within the house’
Gatsby’s last party
The swimming pool
‘It was a photograph of the house’
‘A huge incoherent failure of a house’
Plaza Suite
The flat on 158th Street
Wilson’s garage

4. The Women Characters

Emancipated women
Myrtle Wilson
Jordan Baker
Daisy Fay/Buchanan
The woman in white

5. Gatsby and Nick Carraway

Corrective vision
Jimmy Gatz/James Gatz/Jay Gatsby/’Mr. Nobody from Nowhere’
An isolated figure
A mysterious and ambivalent figure
Faithful lover and wealthy parvenu
Gatsby’s past
Gatsby and time
The nature of Gatsby’s dream
The destruction of Gatsby’s dream
Gatsby as victim
Nick Carraway
Nick’s ‘journey’ of discovery
Nick’s role as observer and judge
Nick as active participator
Nick Carraway and Scott Fitzgerald, writers of ‘this book’

6. America: History and Myth

The title of the novel
Myth as history
The heirs of Dan Cody: Meyer Wolfshiem and Tom Buchanan
Symbolic landscapes: Midwest and East coast

Selected reading

SHOP new year