‘Fitzgerald presents American society as shallow, corrupt, hypocritical, immoral and pretentious.’ Show the various ways employed to achieve this in the first three chapters.
Throughout ‘The Great Gatsby’, Fitzgerald is able to portray his opinion of American society through the narration of Nick Carraway. However, just from the first three chapters the reader is able to recognise the flaws and corruptions of the classes identified by Fitzgerald and share his distain for the ignorance of morality.
A key element used is the first person narrator, Nick, who instantly makes it clear that he considers himself to be ‘inclined to reserve all judgements’ and therefore give an objective account of events. However, within the same chapter the reader can see that this is not true, as Nick makes several judgements including when he hears about Tom’s adultery: ‘my own instinct was to telephone immediately for the police’, thus demonstrating his hypocrisy. This use of first person narrator not only enables Fitzgerald to give a more realistic insight into a lavish lifestyle (including direct conversations with all of the characters involved), but it also shows Nick’s emotions and motives, allowing the reader to recognise his faults and the irony in the title to the novel too; Gatsby may not be considered ‘Great’ at all, it is simply Nick’s subjective viewpoint. Furthermore, his opinion may not always be trusted when considering that he is drunk in chapter two and he admits: ‘everything that happened has a dim, hazy cast over it,’ and so Nick becomes an increasingly unreliable man of honesty. Thus corruption is evident from the beginning, even in one who began as one of the most admirable characters of the book.
Fitzgerald also has each of his characters representing a feature of what American society has become. The main theme of hope for the American dream is represented by Daisy Buchanan and yet her superficiality and pretention show how much it has changed; it has become...