Essay Example on The Great Gatsby Critical Lens
In this way, literature becomes the living memory of a nation”. He is correct in saying this and his quote can be proven true through the use of characterization and setting in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby sets its scene in the Long Island region of New York during the summer of 1922. The time period that this story takes place in is pivotal to how the story unfolds and why the course of events happen in the manner in which they do.
The 1920s is known in the United States as a decade of incredible economic success. In this novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald the story focuses on the negative and less known aspects of this era. With the end of the first World war only a few years past in 1918, there was a dizzying and staggering rise of the stock market that led to a sudden and sustained increase in the nation’s wealth. A new found sense of materialism was discovered as people began to spend and consume at unprecedented levels.
Fitzgerald provides an accurate judge of American character in The Great Gatsby during the 1920s. His book is a perceptive and astute account of the time in which he obviously studied and then successfully captured the angst of society drama and the sadness of lost love and the promise that lurks just beneath the roar of the twenties. This novel is known the world over today as an accessible door into the history of that time period. Like Solzhenitsyn said “…literature becomes the living memory of a nation” and so is the case with The Great Gatsby.
Characterization in the novel is vital when attempting to understand the complex personalities of the characters in the book. In The Great Gatsby social status can be considered to be a defining quality by the characters in the book. It naturally becomes a means by which we the reader come to define the characters. Fitzgerald’s characters develop along the lines of self-indulgence, ignorance, and complete disregard for the real world in which they do not and do not want to belong or even acknowledge.
The overarching cynicism of the characters, the empty pursuit of happiness that they tried to achieve, and the destruction of the idea of the “American dream” are just some of the things that occurred in this time period in the United States. While most people deem the 1920s as prosperous and booming and leave it at that, Fitzgerald portrays it as an era of social and moral decimation in which all his characters were money hungry, greedy, and recklessly ignorant.
Readers who will look back on The Great Gatsby in hopes of acquiring insight into that time in history will discover that our nation appeared to be one thing on the surface but another one entirely if one dug deep enough. Overall The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a prime example of a book that fully embodies a decade’s worth of history. It paints an accurate picture of who people really were back then and how little they really cared about things that were bigger then the next party they planned to attend.
Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was right when he said that “literature transmits unquestionable condensed experience…from generation to generation. In this way, literature becomes the living memory of a nation”. There are an abundance of examples given to the reader of this book that supports this conclusion. Overall, The Great Gatsby is a story told in a point of view that brings a realistic feel to the book and provides a clearer and accurate understanding of America’s past.