The Great Gatsby is a sordid tale of deception

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Isobel Smith

“The Great Gatsby is a sordid tale of deception, adultery and murder” How do you respond to this view of the novel?

If you were to take a quick look at the plot of the Great Gatsby and look at the themes it deals with I expect many people would agree with this view. Throughout the Great Gatsby there is murder, infidelity and lying and yet having read the novel and considered the story it tells I respond in a rather disagreeable way to this view. It seems to me that this view does not take into account what F. Scott Fitzgerald is trying to tell us about human beings, that we may have many faults but that most of us are just trying to do the right thing. Having listened to Nick and seen his judgment of the various happenings within the novel it seems he has found justification for all these supposedly ‘sordid’ events.

Firstly, what does sordid mean? As far as I can see, it is a word for dirty, unethical, degrading or morally unsound. This is not at all how I felt once I had read the Great Gatsby. If the novel had been of this nature I expect I would have reacted very differently to it, and found myself reading uneasily. Yet I was caught up in the stories of all the characters life’s and their emotions and feelings seemed to put to rest any ‘dirty’ feelings from what went on.

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So why do all these fundamentally wrong events seem so justified? It is because they are told through the eyes of Nick, our limited narrator. We learn about these events through his own judgemental eyes, and yet it is through Nick that we see the emotional connection between the events and the people that they involve. That is what validates the actions. The way Nick speaks about the events is not in a harsh, sharp tone but in a mellifluous, flowing way which takes into accounts the characters emotions and feelings. Although they are not real in any way, ...

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