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An Interpretation of the Great Gatsby from the Structuralism Criticism

Author YangXin
Tutor BaiSu
School Xi'an University of Electronic Science and Technology
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords The Great Gatsby structuralism the pattern actions binary opposition
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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The Great Gatsby(1925) is regarded as the masterpiece of F. Scott. Fitzgerald. Since its publication, T. S. Eliot, a well-known American poet and critic, who is famous for his rigor, calls it "the first step the American novel has taken since Henry James." The previous researches mainly attach importance to the contents and try to explore the theme- disillusion of American Dream from the historical background, nevertheless, regardless of its well-designed structure. This dissertation analyzes the contents from structuralism point of view to explore the well designed structure and the universal theme underlying in the narrative.This dissertation consists five chapters. Chapter One gives brief introduction to the author, the plot of The Great Gatsby and the critics from various perspectives. The greatness of The Great Gatsby lies in the fact that it reveals the reality of the 1920s America. Through depiction of the disillusionment of the American Dream, it reflects the strong conflict between the dream and the reality on the journey of making progress. Chapter Two is the theory analysis. The structuralism focuses on the structure of the literary text rather than a specific work. This theory is the origin of human thoughts and literature works. Greimas and Thodorov confirm that grammatical mode exists in the deep structure of every narrative. According to the theory of binary oppositions, the literal works can not be analyzed alone. The theme, background, characters and colors in The Great Gatsby reflect the binary opposition rules. Relying on text analysis, Chapter Three aims to sum up the "hope-gain-lost-hope" grammatical mode. The main character Gatsby’s wish to obtain Daisy’s affection is closely connected with his life-long goal. This mode also supports the narratives of Tom, Myrtle, and her husband. Their longing for love, fortune and happiness turning into bubble takes on repeatedly. Chapter Four is mainly analyzing the theme, symbols, characters and colors by employing the binary opposition rules. The author, Fitzgerald, his duality in his own personal experience and personality is the underlying structure of the literal text. These opposition pairs are mainly constructed by the contrast of illusion and reality, life and death, east and west, black and white, and spirit and material. These multi-dimensional contrasts are a good illustration of the deep structure of the narrative. Chapter Five is the conclusion part. Through thorough analysis of the literal text, what has been found is The Great Gatsby keeps to the theory of binary opposition and grammatical mode; these rules shape the actions of the characters and further reveal the theme of this classic novel:human beings undertake the conflict between reality and dream, and they are persistent on their dreams and take the "hope-gain-lost-hope" actions. The dominant goal of structuralism is not to focus on the specific work but to find the universal significance of all. Although structuralism has a lot of merits and can address the question from different perspectives, it also occupies its own position. It is not fettered by old conventions but open a new window for analyzing the literal contents.

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