The Great Gatsby as a Modernist Novel

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The Great Gatsby is a modern novel charting the failures of the Jazz Age. Discuss in reference to appropriately selected parts of the novel and provide relevant contextual information on 1920s America to illuminate your understanding of the novel’s thematic concerns. A modern novel is a novel that disobeys and rejects the old “Victorian” style of writing, which was traditionally based around the necessity of respect for authority and usually had a religious coda, which ended with a clean-cut moral lesson. A modernist novel contravenes this linear, moral structure and instead conveys a comment on social mores. A modern novel’s purpose is to expose social injustices instead of indoctrinating readers with rose-tinted views of society. In the Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald employs the innovative features of a modernist novel such as an unreliable narrator, symbolism, non-linear narrative structure, a retrospective viewpoint, ambivalence and an amalgamation of genres. The Great Gatsby’s narrator is the character of Nick Carraway who gives a profound moral insight throughout the novel and the author himself, Scott Fitzgerald identifies himself with this character, claiming Nick is very like his mature self while romantic Jay Gatsby is his naïve younger self. Nick likes to think that in consequence of his his upbringing in the traditional West of America he is “inclined to reserve all judgements” however it becomes very clear that Nick is an unreliable narrator due to his insistent hypocrisy throughout the narrative. Firstly Nick has a dual vision of Gatsby as a character, unable to maintain a. impartial view of him as his smile of “eternal reassurance” clouds his judgement. Nick in the first chapter describes Gatsby as having an “extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness” but yet in consistently overlooks Gatsby’s career as a bootlegger. Gatsby made his fortune
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