《了不起的盖茨比》中主人公盖茨比形象浅析
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An Analysis of the Image of Gatsby in the Great Gatsby

《了不起的盖茨比》中主人公盖茨比形象浅析

Major: English

专业:英语

Author:

作者:

指导教师:曹晓玲

University: Eastern Liaoning University

学位授予单位:辽东学院

Time: June, 2014

完成时间: 2014年6月

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本人郑重声明:此处所提交的本科毕业论文《<了不起的盖茨比>中主人公人物形象浅析》是本人在导师指导下,在辽东学院外语学院学习期间独立进行研究所取得的成果。据本人所知,论文中除已注明部分外不包含他人已发表或撰写过的研究成果,对本文的研究工作做出重要贡献的个人和集体均已注明。本声明的法律结果与导师无关,将完全由本人承担。 作者签名:日期:年月日

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Upon the completion of this paper, An Analysis of the Image of Gatsby in The Great Gatsby, I am grateful to the professor who offers my sincere encouragement and generous support during the course of my study for the Bachelor’s degree.

First and foremost I am deeply indebted to my supervisor, Mrs. Cao Xiaoling, who guided me with academic expertise, critical insights throughout each stage of my study and initiated me into my research. Her instruction enabled me to express my idea in a better way. Without her patient and insightful supervision, this paper would not be possible.

Wh at’s more, I also extend my heart-felt thanks to my classmates and friends, for their valuable guidance and sincere help.

Last but not least, I would like to express thanks to my parents, for their encouragement and support.

ABSTRACT

The topic that the thesis aims at researching is an analysis of the image of Gatsby in The Great Gatsby. By analyzing the image of Gatsby, the reasons resulting in his tragedy and his peculiar and persistent attitude towards love are known by us and the ridiculous thought that common people are eager to become rich through his own endeavor is naturally reflected. The people like Gatsby in Jazz Age are deeply influenced by the capitalism but are at the bottom of the society. The miserable ending of Gatsby at last brings much attention to those who want to make a great fortune by taking advantage of the illegal opportunity instead of hard work. At the same time, Gatsby's incorrect attitude towards love also alarms people that love is not to pay out blindly but to demand equally, love is mutual, and the blind love will allow people to lose their lives eventually.

The thesis is divided into five parts. The first part introduces the background of The Great Gatsby. The second part is the literature review. The third part mainly analyzes the image of Gatsby from three aspects and is also the main body of the thesis. The key points are the personal image of Gatsby in different ways and the reasons giving rise to his love and life tragedies. However, the fourth part puts emphasis on analyzing the deeper factors of Gatsby's death, from which we can know that it is his individual disadvantages and the tempestuous society that lead to his tragic ending. At last, the fifth part is the ending of the thesis. Although Gatsby is a very ordinary person at the bottom of the society in those days, his example represents defects of the generation and the time at the moment. Literature reflects the realistic society. We can better understand the unequal positions of people under the capitalist system through vivid characters written by the author. Moreover, we are in the hope of arousing the attention of the young generation: young people should earn money with legitimate means, should have a better understanding of the society, and don't follow blindly or become enthusiastic about unhealthy ways and customs in the society. More important, we should establish positive life view, value view and love view.

Keywords: The Great Gatsby; Gatsby; image

摘要

本论文要研究的课题是《了不起的盖茨比》中主人公盖茨比形象浅析,通过分析盖茨比的形象以及造成他悲剧命运形成的原因,以及别具一格对爱情执着的精神这几方面入手来体现爵士乐时代盖茨比一类深受资本主义思想毒害却处在社会最底层的普通老百姓想要通过自身的努力成为人上人的可笑想法,最终盖茨比的悲惨解决也给了现在社会中一些不想通过刻苦努力想要投机取巧发大财人们以深深的思索,与此同时,盖茨比错误的爱情观也给现在的年轻人一个警醒:爱情不是一味的付出而是对等的索取,爱是相互的。盲目的爱情会让人失去理智甚至失去生命。

本论文将分为五个部分。第一部分介绍《了不起的盖茨比》的背景。第二部分是文献回顾。第三部分主要从三个方面分析了盖茨比的形象。第三部分是文章的主要部分从不同方面描述了盖茨比的个人形象以及造成他爱情和生命悲剧的原因。第四部分分析了盖茨比死亡的深层因素,从中我们可以知道他的悲惨结局是自身个人缺陷和动乱的社会双方面的造就。第五部分是论文的结论,尽管盖茨比是当时社会底层中的一个很普通的人,但他的事例代表的是一代人和那个时代的污点。文学反映了现实的社会,从作者笔下那些鲜明的人物中,我们可以了解到资本主义社会制度下人们地位的不平等,同时希望引起现代年轻人的思索:要通过正当的手段获得财富,要有自己独立的见解,不要盲从或热衷于社会上的不良风气,最重要的是要树立正确的人生观,价值观以及爱情观。

关键词:《了不起的盖茨比》盖茨比形象

CONTENTS

Acknowledgements I

Abstract II

摘要 III

Contents IV

1 Introduction 1

2 Literature review 1

3 Analysis of the Image of Gatsby 2

3.1 The different features of Gatsby 3

3.1.1 The different background of Gatsby

4 3.1.2 The different imagination of Gatsby

4 3.2 The dreamful image of Gatsby 4

3.2.1 Gatsby’s dream of love 5

3.2.2 Gatsby’s dream of career 6

3.3 The lonely image of Gatsby 6

3.3.1 His lonely life 7

3.3.2 His lonely death 7

4 The roots of Gatsby’s tragedy 8

4.1 The self-factors 8

4.2 The social factors 9

5 Conclusions 9

Bibliography 11

An Analysis of the Image of Gatsby in the Great Gatsby

1 Introduction

Francis Scott Fitzgerald (September 24, 1896-December 21, 1940) is widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in America of the 20th century and is considered a member of the “Lost Generation” About one hundred short stories and four long novels including This side of Paradise, The Beautiful and the Damned, Tender is the Night and The Great Gatsby which have been published during his whole writing. Beyond that he left an uncompleted novel, The Last Tycoon before he died. Fitzgerald’s novels have been regarded as a sign for the ‘Jazz Age’ and he is called “spokesman in the Jazz Age”. Not only Fitzgerald’s novels work on different levels, but also give us memorable characters and events, as well as referring to the issues of American wealth and spirituality”.

As one of the classics in American literature, The Great Gatsby reveals the moral inanity and shame under the booming of the Jazz Age. When the book was published in 1925, it was widely accepted in American literature because Fitzgerald criticized the thought of ultra-individualism in the contemporary American society.

The Great Gatsby shows a subject of how the American dream influences the American characters: each of them has their own wish for their life of future, but their wish is only around wealth. To enjoy happiness from money is the main part of their life. Fitzgerald unites his exper iences with his nation’s experiences and reflects the time features through the novel. Fitzgerald proposes the rise and fall of Gatsby, cleverly choosing a first-person narrator, Nick Caraway’s point of view. The Great Gatsby has been the first progress ma de in the American novel. It has become a sign of the American literature.

2 Literature review

Written in 1925, The Great Gatsby is one of the best known literary documents of this period. Many scholars have studied Fitzgerald’s works from different perspe ctives, for example the personal background, the characteristics and the subject. Over the past years the research on The Great Gatsby in the word has went through a long and excruciating process. Lots of researchers have proposed different conclusions from different fields and wrote critical essays. Many of them studied the American dream in The Great Gatsby. Bewley Marius(1985) claims that the failure of Gatsby who seeks the American dream madly and explores the changes that happens in the American societ y, indicating obstructions which cannot be get across on the way to Gatsby’s aspire of success. Meanwhile, Color Symbolism is very popular during the 1920s, and some of them studied the Symbolic Colors in The Great Gatsby to find out the dreams and thoughts of characters. Of course some studied The Great Gatsby from the matter of style of freshness. “The Great Gatsby seems to be so different from what has otherwise engaged the passions of other writers in form and content.”(George Garrett, 2007). T.S.Eliot, a most influential critic of English, praised the novel was “the first step that American fiction has taken since Henry James.” The famous critic H.L.Mencken declared this novel “to be no more than a glorified anecdote.”

The famous Professor Wu Kunning first translated The Great Gatsby into Chinese in 1983. Since then, more and more Chinese scholars began discussing this novel, analyzing its symbolic colors, its subject and its forms of art. What Zhang Lilong (1998) has said, “In fact, The Great Gatsby is a recall and summarize of the process development of the American dream practical and historical point of views.” Also some analyses Gatsby’s tragedy. Wang Weiping (2004) argues that the Gatsby is a romantic dreamer of the past, who dedicated his life to realize his dream. Wang

Yujuan (1998) claims that “Gatsby’s dream is also all American dreams.”

From all researchers about Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel “The Great Gatsby” all over the word, we can conclude that The Great Gatsby is a great novel that different people can have different point of views. But we can see that these researchers mostly concentrate on the American dream, the Symbolic Colors and the language. Nevertheless, a few researchers have studied the image of Gatsby. In the following, I’ll analyses the different images of Gatsby and find out the roots of Gatsby’s tragedy.

3 Analysis of the Image of Gatsby

Gatsby is an idealist persisting in pursuing his dream. When he is a young boy, he has a Platonic idea that he deem he is the son of the God, so that he should devote his life to the God and devote himself to the profound, vulgar and gaudy beauty. When he meets Daisy, a girl from a prominent family, he still decides to pursue Daisy recklessly even though he know perfectly that their social positions are totally different: one is an unknown and stony-broke young man, the other is a rich girl living in an elegant and pleasant atmosphere. He has devoted himself to pursuing the dream and the charming and elegant Daisy is the embodiment of his dream. In order to achieve the wonderful life of reviving an old dream with his first love-Daisy (however, Daisy has already been married with a rich man-Tom before Gatsby goes abroad due to oversea battles.), Gatsby risks his life to earn money under the condition that both his body and mind are tired.

After Gatsby makes great fortune overnight, he spends much time and energy in arranging plans so as to see Daisy for a moment and tell her his miss. He buys a villa opposite to the house of Daisy, often holds luxurious banquets in it and looks forwards to sudden presence of Daisy someday. For this, he has been waiting for 5 years. With the help of Nick, a distant relative of Daisy, Gatsby has the chance to meet Daisy. Therefore, he is mad with joy since his dreams come true. It is the motional excitement that makes him exhausted just like a clock with a spiral spring wound too tightly. What he does is just for Daisy. He is passionately devoted to her even willing to undertake murder for her.

Nevertheless, the dream he has built in his life with much effort is nothing but a vulgar, empty, extremely selfish and flirtatious lady in reality. Gatsby is a Faustian person who struggles against obstacles endlessly. His life course presents an automatic inner development. Changes in life are peaks resulting from his past choices and experience. He is eager for an infinite state and never gives up his dream even when he loses his life.

In a next part, the thesis will attach much importance to introduce different features of Gatsby including the dreamful image of Gatsby and the lonely image of Gatsby.

3.1 The different features of Gatsby

Gatsby is a person with different characteristics. As a young man mad about money and love, he has different background and different imagination.

3.1.1 The different background of Gatsby

In the novel, the description of Gatsby gives us a series of questions. There are rumors that Mr. Gatsby kills a man or Mr. Gatsby is a German spy. Some people deny the previous information and say Gatsby serves for USA army in World War II. Some people argue that Gatsby is a bootleg liquor dealer. Many people deem Gatsby is not Emperor William but the German field marshal Hindenburg's nephew. The complex contradictory information effectively spells a person a mysterious line or contour. In fact, so many people go to the Gatsby’s home but know nothing

about Gatsby as if a subtle homage to Gatsby. In addition, the origin of Gatsby’s property is not clear. But his character is very obvious, it is a contradiction that as if thinking of something in noise or feeling something is missing when gambling at high stakes. Of course that he feels lonely after he gathers lots of guests to his party is another contradiction. He gathers guests but stays away from them. When the band plays the symphony for the guests, Gatsby stands alone on the marble steps. When the guests revel in his garden, Gatsby become more and more dignified.

3.1.2 The different imagination of Gatsby

First of all, we can see that Gatsby is an ordin ary person through Nick’s eye because he has a remarkable talent for hope. In fact, “I never find this romantic passion in others and cannot find in the future”. From what Nick has said, we can feel Gatsby is extraordinary refined with his unique imagination. As a romantic idealist, this remarkable talent seems to be the cornerstone of Gatsby. Even though he is just a poor boy named James.Ghez, he creates a Jay Gatsby finally. The poor James.Ghez has become the ideal Jay Gatsby and he is no longer an ordinary people. He regards himself as “The son of the Gold”.

3.2 The dreamful image of Gatsby

Gatsby, as a literature character, represents a generation of the society. His personality is very colorful, so that his image is dreamful. This chapter emphasizes Gat sby’s dream of love and Gatsby’s dream of career which fully reflect that Gatsby is a complicated person.

3.2.1 Gatsby’s dream of love

As for Gatsby's love for Daisy, he sacrifices a lot and is a representative figure in the field of love. First of all, Gatsby has a persistent and single-minded attitude towards love. After he falls in love with Daisy, great changes have taken place. He is wild with joy and loves Daisy without controlling his mind. Even though Daisy has a new sweetheart due to Gatsby' poverty, he attributes all the reasons to his own poverty and is determined to change himself. He never doubts or blames the mate choice of Daisy. After he gets huge wealth through many years of struggle, the unique desire and the unique pursuit in his heart are to obtain the love from Daisy all the same. In order to attract the attention of "goddess" in his heart, he waits for 5 years unexpectedly and buys a villa. All these are just for seeing Daisy accidentally. What a fool for love! He would like to spend everything he has and never care any gains and losses to obtain the love of Daisy. That he treats Daisy all the same from the beginning to the end without conditions and reservation moves our readers.

Secondly, Gatsby treats love in the spirit of devotion. He spends money recklessly, holds parties throughout the night, is not in the mood for fame and compliments and is not in the mood for obtaining worship and appreciation from others. What he wants to acquire is accidental attention and patronage of the "goddess" in his heart by wasting money unselfishly, devoting time and dedicating patience. After the "goddess" is in trouble, he shoulders the responsibility of the crime positively without any hesitation. At the moment, he never considers the consequences properly brought by the undertaking. It is observed that he has no idea of thinking for himself. All his thought, all his body and his entire mind have been contributed to his lover-Daisy. There is only one purpose for all the consideration: assuring the safety of Daisy and allowing her to be happy. He makes the final decision even if paying the price of life. His selfless and great love for Daisy allows people in his time to be ashamed. However, it is Daisy who is the only person with perfect body figure and attractive appearance is not really moved by Gatsby's true love. Daisy is really attracted by Gatsby' great change after he makes a great fortune and gets back to his hometown,

but she does not love him. What she loves most is the money and the status that Gatsby owns, so that she does not shed tears even when Gatsby saves her with his own life.

3.2.2 Gatsby’s dream of career

Under the conditions that capitalism is promptly developed and the polarization is increasingly intensified, it is delusional that a person wants to be understanding through industry and thrift. The secret of Gatsby' success is a witness to this point. Since he is a young boy, he follows the instruction of Franklin all the time and practices major requirements of the traditional pattern as far as possible according to his comprehension and the social conditions of America in the 20th century. Nevertheless, the young Gatsby is not successful correspondingly, so that he is abandoned by his first love-Daisy due to poverty.

He wishes to thoroughly get rid of his poor family and dreams to become rich and outstanding just as heroes in books of Franklin and Alger when he is young. Later, Daisy becomes a symbol of the perfect dream of Gatsby when he comes across Daisy and falls in love with her. He cannot concentrate without thinking her. Because Daisy represents all the glamorous aspects of the upper class of America, he thinks Daisy is a fairy in the world when he recalls. However, the reality is that Gatsby does not have a wealthy family to support him. The wide gap between he and Daisy let him understand that "he has no right to touch her hand actually". Gatsby deeply realizes that wealth limits freedom to love, how a piece of clothes keeps a person fresh with energy and Daisy always stands above the poor peacefully. After losing his lover, Gatsby makes money without any expenses and dreams that he will retake Daisy when he has enough money. Afterwards, he really becomes rich and has magic power to attract people. He can do whatever he likes, such as hiring or firing a person at will, buying houses at any place and holding parties at every night. (Certainly, the money he makes is not legal but illegal business. However, the extravagant life does not bring any happiness to Gatsby because there is an essential difference between Gatsby and people who pursuing money and reputation crazily in "Jazz Age". Wealth, for Gatsby, is only an external thing besides the body. To review the love between him and Daisy and to find the pure love he has lost are the only thing that he wants to yearn for day and night.

3.3 The lonely image of Gatsby

The lonely image of Gatsby includes his lonely life and his lonely death.

3.3.1 His lonely life

Gatsby is born in a poor family and his parents are unambitious and unsuccessful farmers, but he never takes them as his parents for a moment in his mind. He is indulged in dreaming his successful future and firmly believes that he is the son of God and tries his best to devote himself to the God. In the essential stage of his life, Gatsby is completely ambitious and courageous and he is innocent and ignorant at the same time. He makes strict daily schedules for himself such as when to do physical exercise and when to read, which aims at improving physical and mental health, so that he can achieve his goals preferably in the future. He endows himself with great dignity as if he does not come from a poor peasant family.

Meanwhile, he exerts all his energies to prepare for the bright future, but he is too innocent to be unaware of the inevitability that his dream disappears. When Gatsby meets Daisy, his life is thoroughly changed and pushed towards a totally different direction. She is the first elegant lady appearing in his life, so that he falls in love with her forever and ever due to lack of social experience. It also takes him five years to save their love. Serving as a young officer, he lacks experience in love. Together with his social status, Daisy is mysterious and attractive in his eyes.

Compared with the things that Daisy has, such as "a beautiful house, the bedroom upstairs which is cooler and more beautiful, wonderful activities held in a corridor and flowers which never wither, he is just a young man without money and background. He comes across many ladies from distinguished families with his own identity never revealed, but there exists an invisible wire net between Gatsby and the ladies. The wire net is the class difference and also the real reason that he is not willing to reveal his identity. Therefore, he makes up his mind to ascend the upper class by changing himself with great efforts. He is too childish to believe that he will be really accepted by the social circle where Daisy lives. Actually, both his true love for Daisy and his unremitting effort are wasted intangibly.

3.3.2 His lonely death

As Gatsby has lost his independent personality in a process of pursuing love, he is immersed in a complete "altruism" personality. The "altruism" in psychology and the "altruism" discussed in a moral aspect are almost the same. The "altruism" discussed in the moral aspect is the sentiment that our society ought to advocate and refers to that people can think for each other and think for others. A contrast is made between this kind of "altruism" and the selfish morality. However, the "altruism" in the psychology refers to the loss of the independent personality. In other words, Gatsby has suicidal tendency that he has completely lost his independent personality when he pursues love. People are equal in the love field, but Gatsby loses oneself in love. Love cannot live in the complete "altruism" of Gatsby. He becomes a crazy person for a woman. Love getting away from a normal living rail is certainly like water without a source or trees without land. All in all, the complete "altruism" represents ill-natured and illiberal humanity and personality deficiency. The reason that Gatsby is killed by somebody can also be comprehended as suicide for love. 4 The roots of Gatsby’s tragedy

The roots of Gatsby’s tragedy refers to self-factors and social factors.

4.1 The self-factors

The major factors resulting in the tragedy of Gatsby is Gatsby himself-his dream. His dream includes two parts. On one hand, he has a dream of making a fortune. Most people in the times are encouraged to work hard because the government claims that if you work harder, you will become richer. Gatsby is one of those people believing in the faith. He thirsts for money all the time and wants to be reputable among the rich. The pretty house and the expensive automobile of Daisy attract him. Daisy' life allows him to firmly believe that possession of money and wealth is equal to youth, safety and dignity, so that Gatsby risks his life to achieve his dream. However, the traditional American dream cannot be achieved in the decayed time. Even though he makes lots of money finally, the people in the society do not accept him. Nothing can change his poor family background. Money only leads him to the way of death. On the other hand, his love dream kills him. He loves Daisy but treats her as an imaginary dream not a real woman. What he longs for is not the Daisy now but the girl who brought him a wonderful dream five years ago. Therefore, his tragic end is destined when he throws himself into a thought which does not exist truly.

4.2 The social factors

First of all, the social background of the novel is the Jazz Age of America. The First World War was just ended at the moment and the American economy was very prosperous. On the other hand, the young generation is aware that the battle for democracy is just a lie. Although the war brings great economic benefits for the Wall Street of America, what it really brings to the overwhelming

majority of Americans is death and sorrow. As a matter of fact, what the young people have done is wrong and what they deem to do makes no sense. They even don't know what they should do tomorrow not to mention the future. This is the sadness of young people, families, the society as well as the time.

Secondly, moral values at Gatsby' time has lost. Most people think money means everything, so that they pursue money blindly. They can sell their souls so as to get money. Money is more practical compared with the God. They lose traditional virtues such as honesty and goodness. On the contrary, money and reputation become the goals and motivation to accomplish tasks. Some of them become very cunning and brutal. For example, Daisy would not marry a man who is poor and has no social status in The Great Gatsby. Only by having money and houses can Gatsby gain confidence to love Daisy. However, there is a great difference between Gatsby and Daisy: he earns money just because they deem that he can achieve his goals with money in the time. Compared with Daisy, Gatsby is a honest and virtuous person. In general, he cannot survive in a dog-eat-dog world and his life is destined to a tragedy.

5 Conclusions

In conclusion, Gatsby lives in a society with definite class differentiation. He is the son of poor peasants and is fed up with torment of poverty and oppression from the rich, so that he is bent on squeezing into the upper class. To some extent, the society leads to his dream. It is also the society that does not accept him so as to destroy his dream. Gatsby is destined to fail if he challenges the rich. No matter how rich he is finally, he is just an overnight millionaire in the eyes of the rich. The rich like Tom who has the higher social position envy and fear the overnight millionaire. They prevent Gatsby from obtaining benefits and realize their purposes even by murdering. These are the external causes leading to the tragedy of Gatsby. The inner causes are that Gatsby's dream is too ideal to get away from the reality and cannot be achieved. In short, the tragedy of Gatsby with the unrealistic dream at the time is definitely inevitable.

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