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Discuss the ways in which Fitzgerald's choices of form, structure and language give the reader an insight into the failure of the American Dream. (Passage based. The passage in question is taken from the final two pages of the novel, beginning "Gatsby's h

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Introduction

Discuss the ways in which Fitzgerald's choices of form, structure and language give the reader an insight into the failure of the American Dream. Within this passage, which marks the very end of the novel, Fitzgerald depicts the downfall of Gatsby's American Dream in particular. He uses form, structure and language in ways which heighten the effect that he is trying to create, and also end the novel on a thought-provoking note. The American dream, characterised in the novel by the accumulation of wealth and material possessions, is effectively shown shattered in this passage, due to the choices Fitzgerald made regarding form, structure and language. The first paragraph of the extract is fragmented, with long sentences which change topic within themselves. Fitzgerald chose this structure in order to present Carraway's mind at the time as being fragmented, and that he strips away at the layers of the American Dream, to reveal the ugly truth. The truth, which he avoids, as he 'didn't want to hear it'. This presents a very negative tone. In the second paragraph, Fitzgerald uses very visual, vibrant language, 'gleaming, dazzling... vivid', in order to present the superficial, seemingly positive side of the Dream, here represented by Gatsby's parties; in using visual language, Fitzgerald is expressing the superficial nature of the Dream, which is visually appealing, but wholly unfulfilling underneath. ...read more.

Middle

taking the common route of seeking wealth, whereas the American Dream isn't about wealth specifically, but that striving to achieve goals makes them possible, reachable. This word 'incoherent' here is used to describe Gatsby's failure to truly understand the dream, and also is Fitzgerald's way of criticising the materialistic interpretation of the Dream as being incoherent. The word 'failure' is without a doubt a direct reference to the failure of the Dream for Gatsby. There is also a sound effect linking 'huge' and 'incoherent', the repeated 'h' sound. The effect of this is to emphasise and accentuate the scale of the failure. The structure of this passage fades from light to dark as it progresses, reflecting the American dream, which fades away; Fitzgerald begins using words such as 'gleaming' and 'dazzling', but by the fourth paragraph, he states 'there were hardly any lights', using words like 'shadowy' to describe motion. This transition to darkness reflects the increasingly darkening tone of the piece, which goes to show the decay and ultimate failure of the idealistic concept of the American Dream. The American Dream is taken literally, as Fitzgerald relates the ideas to the past, of Dutch sailors seeing the 'flowering' America, the 'fresh, green breast of the new world.' ...read more.

Conclusion

In Gatsby's case, he essentially seeks to recreate the past with Daisy (this being his American Dream), but the past cannot be recreated, despite Gatsby's aspirations. This fantastical future is also mentioned satirically at the close of the paragraph: 'And one fine morning-'. This cut-off line represents the wistful thoughts of those pursuing the Dream, and the hopes and thoughts that one day they will be achieved. It is said in a form as if from the point of view of one in pursuit of the Dream, which gives it the satirical quality. The closing line of the passage, and indeed the entire novel itself, 'So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past' is a final reflection of those pursuing the American Dream. The repetitive alliteration of 'b' in 'beat', 'boats', 'borne' and 'back' is almost brutal in sound, and certainly portrays the concept of struggle; Fitzgerald clearly chose this alliterative phrase to give the literary impression of a struggle 'against the current.' The sound effect of these words overall, alliteration aside, also seems to portray a futile, driving effort. This seems to describe Gatsby, who struggled to win Daisy against the circumstances (not least her marriage to Tom), and eventually died as a result. He was dragged back by the 'current' into his grave, in the case of the novel, rather than 'the past', which he sought. ...read more.

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