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Archetypal Approach to the Great Gatsby

Author ZhaoYunLing
Tutor DuanXiaoYing
School Hebei Normal
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Bible archetype parallel correspondence displacement
Type Master's thesis
Year 2008
Downloads 958
Quotes 2
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F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1990), as the outstanding spokesman of the Jazz Age, is one of the most popular and financially successful of the American novelists of his time. As one of the greatest novels in American literature, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby has aroused great interest of study. According to Frye’s archetypal criticism, the archetypes could be the characters, structures, plots, images, and themes. This thesis attempts to analyze this novel in the light of the archetypal criticism put forward by Northrop Frye to probe into the biblical archetypes in the above novel, including plots, characters and images.Chapter one interprets the archetypal plots of the novel. Fitzgerald borrows the most two fundamental biblical plots: the plot of conflicts between the virtuous and the evil, and the plot of seeking for faith and ideal. The writer of this thesis has expounded the parallel correspondence and the displacement between the biblical archetypes and Gatsby’s story.The second chapter, the archetypal analysis of characters, tries to find out the archetypes of the leading character Jay Gatsby and other characters related to Gatsby. Fitzgerald ingeniously gives the main characters—Gatsby, Nick, Daisy and Tom—many traits of biblical archetypes. The archetypes of Adam and Jesus Christ can be found in Gatsby. By comparing him as Adam, Fitzgerald stresses Gatsby’s innocence, warmness, ignorance of time, and the fate of fall. Fitzgerald also underlines the likeness of the virtues and“scapegoat”fate between Gatsby and Jesus Christ. As the unique witness and Gatsby’s friend, Nick burlesques the archetype of God and Nicodemus, one of Jesus Christ’s followers. The archetype of Daisy is the mixture of Eve and Judas. Tom’s is Satan in disguise and doubting Thomas.Chapter three interprets archetypal imagery of the novel. According to Frye, archetypal imagery can be divided into two groups: the apocalyptic and the demonic, drawing heavily on the Bible. The writer of this thesis classifies those images into two groups and mainly discusses Gatsby’s garden, Jacob’s ladder as the apocalyptic imagery, and the valley of ashes, colors, and water as the manifest demonic imagery. Those images give the novel a mysterious coloring, strengthen the tragic atmosphere and highlight the themes.In the last part, with an overview of the above analysis, I come to my conclusion: Fitzgerald’s use of archetypes in The Great Gatsby is ingenious and complicated. These archetypes can be used not merely to be as the sources of the novel in order to constitute an integral part of Fitzgerald artistic creation, but also effectively convey and manifest the themes of the novel. By making full use of archetypes, Fitzgerald reveals his attitude towards the unrealistic American dream and his scathing criticism of the sordid reality of the American society of the Jazz Age. At the same time, these archetypes greatly add to the readability and profundity of the novel. These functions of archetypes contribute to the eternal artistic brilliance and greatness of the novel.

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