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Discuss the presentation of Gatsby's character through Carraway's narrative perspective

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Discuss the presentation of Gatsby's character through Carraway's Narrative Perspective In the novel The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald tells the story through the narrative perspective of Nick Carraway, a character within the novel who has a somewhat peripheral role in the story. The effect of this is that the reader learns about Gatsby's character through the eyes of Carraway, thereby revealing information about Gatsby gradually; the effect of this is to keep the reader interested in finding out more about Gatsby; were the reader to find out his past at the beginning of the novel, part of the character's appeal would be ruined: his mystery. The mystery surrounding Gatsby is something that Carraway's Narrative perspective plays the key role in creating; that Carraway and the surrounding characters don't know much about his past, other than rumours and fragments of information to begin with is mirrored in what Fitzgerald reveals to the audience, creating an empathy with Carraway. This empathy with Carraway means that Carraway's opinions are likely to be shared by readers on some level, as Fitzgerald gradually reveals information. That Gatsby's past is shady presents him as a secretive character, and stimulates contemplation regarding how Gatsby acquired his wealth; as Carraway speculates within the novel, 'Young men didn't... ...read more.


Gatsby is presented as being an essentially isolated character within the novel through Carraway's perspective, given the hollowness of the parties, and the fact that people at Gatsby's parties don't even know who he is. This is especially notable when the parties end; Fitzgerald uses a strong narrative and descriptive phrase to describe the aftermath of the first party Carraway attended: 'A sudden emptiness seemed to flow now from the windows and the great doors, endowing with great isolation the figure of the host.' This is a very powerful chunk of narrative, which clearly distinguishes Gatsby's isolation. The idea of 'sudden emptiness' also goes to portray the hollowness and superficiality of the parties, and the idea that it would 'flow' is a strange choice of verb. Fitzgerald chose to describe the emptiness as flowing from the windows and doors in order to imply that the emptiness wasn't just an absence of people, but almost as an entity in itself. The 'great isolation' described is a lucid presentation of Gatsby's character as a lonely and isolated character. Gatsby's isolation is clearly and brutally made apparent towards the end of the novel, where Fitzgerald uses the brilliant construction, 'it grew upon me that I was responsible, because no-one else was interested.' ...read more.


That Gatsby is able to affect something seemingly 'unaffected' gives him a mystical quality, implying that his lifestyle was even able to draw in Carraway, who had contempt and 'disapproval' for it. That Gatsby, despite being the subject of disapproval and scorn, had 'something gorgeous about him' again gives him an inexplicable lure to the narrator. This does limit the narrative perspective, as it makes it likely that Carraway will show bias towards the man who defies his sensibilities and is mystifyingly likeable, however it does present Gatsby as a charismatic and friendly character. It seems that Carraway may even view Gatsby as somewhat of a novelty, a man who he is drawn to by the lure of his lifestyle, and by his idiosyncrasy. In conclusion, Gatsby is presented by Carraway's Narrative Perspective as being an isolated figure, who is initially shrouded in mystery, which soon fades, leaving the hollow, superficial nature of Gatsby exposed to Carraway and reader alike. The narrative then reveals that in fact Gatsby's wealth, although acquired through shady deals during the Prohibition, was all done in pursuit of Daisy. This infatuation is presented by Carraway's narrative as Gatsby being a 'man in love' who 'came alive' in his love for Daisy. However, whether or not his pursuit of Daisy is true love is questionable. It is certain that Carraway admires, even idolises Gatsby, despite his reservations, because of something 'beautiful' he sees about Gatsby. Harry Dayantis ...read more.

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Response to the question

This essay starts off with a strong introduction, but then suddenly wanders aft a bit, not really addressing much of the question. It is only by about the fourth paragraph do we find a candidate who has a very strong ...

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Response to the question

This essay starts off with a strong introduction, but then suddenly wanders aft a bit, not really addressing much of the question. It is only by about the fourth paragraph do we find a candidate who has a very strong grasp of the novel, it's intentions and the style with which it is written. There is evidence that the candidate fully understands the function of Nick Carraway and our relationship with him as the "peripheral" narrator of the novel, and also how the method by which we receive the information encourages much of the mystery Fitzgerald originally intended for Gatsby.

Where I would ask the candidate to dissipate more effort is in the realisation that Nick is not a reliable narrator. Frequently his opinions of Gatsby varies - he is conflicted because he admires Gatsby's fervour and determination but despises the means by which he goes about it, calling it "shallow" and purposeless" at times. The candidate must be aware that the information we gather about Gatsby is skewed by personal opinion - Carraway's - and that even he does not find out all the information about Gatsby (at first) by objective means (he collects much of the information in rumours from Gatsby's party guests. This unreliable narrator style of narrative is not clearly identified in this essay, even if the candidate may actually be aware of it. It is a very fundamental concept and vitally important if trying to understand Carraway's presentation of Gatsby.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis is absolutely exceptional, save the unclear incorporating the use of the unreliable narrator (much could have been said about this, hence why it is greatly recommended that candidates do not overlook obvious facts that may seem pointless to mention, but could actually form the building blocks of some very effective and extensive analysis). Elsewhere, the candidate's writing style naturally encourages a very effective analysis, drawing sensitive appraisal to the techniques Fitzgerald uses and applying comments that are both illuminating and insightful. Through this analysis, the candidate shows they possess a profound knowledge of the novel and it's events, and also it's symbolic and contextual resonance. This is a writing skill few acquire, but essentially the idea is that you don't write descriptively - you write analytically, quoting from appropriate sources wherever appropriate, and show a knowledge of the novel by citing information you know to occur/be implied within the novel when conducting the analysis. The trick is getting both as integrated as possible, so they don't feel juxtaposed or segregated. This candidates masters this, writing seamless, confident analysis throughout.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is very good. Both the candidates grammar and spelling feature next to no errors, if any at all. The candidates use of punctuation is good as well, as they appear confident enough to use more complex vocabulary like colons, semi-colons and parentheses. There is evidence then, that the candidate took great care in trying to write this, checking and re-checking their grammar, spelling and punctuation in order for it be perfect for the final hand-in. This is encouraged of any candidate, as we make errors without even realising sometimes, and often computers can miss these as they do not appear to be erroneous at first, due to the word being a homonym or simply using the wrong adjective.

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