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Double Vision in the Great Gatsby

Author TangZuo
Tutor HongZengLiu
School Anhui University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords double vision polarity dramatic tension objectivity
Type Master's thesis
Year 2004
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This thesis is a systematic research into the double-vision perspective applied in Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece The Great Gatsby. The fact that Fitzgerald ranks as high as Hawthorne and Hemingway in the history of American literature is, in a sense, due to his effective application of double vision in his best work The Great Gatsby. Double vision denotes two ways of seeing, that is, people hold two opposite opinions simultaneously. In The Great Gatsby, double vision exists in themes and in characterization. In themes, there mainly exist contradictions between Fitzgerald’s yearning for and revulsion against money, between his enchanted and disenchanted aspirations. The reflection of Fitzgerald’s double vision in the novel is that wealth could or couldn’t corrupt a person; that Gatsby would and would not win Daisy - the novel’s heroine and symbol of the American ideal; that anyone in America could and could not realize his "American dream" through hard work and perseverance . In characterization, there are Gatsby and Nick Carraway who represent Fitzgerald’s emotional and rational selves respectively. By balancing one against the other, Fitzgerald dramatized the dilemma of the western twentieth-century man, wavering between sense and sensibility. Double vision is further enhanced with the choice of a semi-detached narrator-Nick Carraway. Nick’s ambiguities sometimes get the readers close to the events, yet sometimes keep the readers at a distance. Double vision brings about great effects. Holding double vision, Fitzgerald liked to set his favorite subjects of wealth, potential of "romantic readiness", youth, beauty, and the rational against their polar opposites: poverty, squandered potential, age, ugliness, and the perceptual. Because of the strong contradictions between those polar opposites, dramatic tension is created. But one side of the opposites always triumphs over the other. Then the themes and characteristics of the figures present themselves in this intensified phenomenon. Meanwhile, Fitzgerald also uses double vision as a means for spiritual transcendence of the contradictions he held. Double vision in the novel helps to reflect the author’s vision of the complexity of human emotion, and of the human situation more generally. In short, the success of The Great Gatsby lies in Fitzgerald’s effective application of double vision. His double-vision perspective offers something more than contradictory ideas, which might confuse the readers. It serves as a means of clarification and sublimation of the themes.

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