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Isolation in the Great Gatsby

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Riley Moore

on 29 May 2014

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Transcript of Isolation in the Great Gatsby

Everyone has been socially isolated before...

Isolation is a feeling that everyone gets, but often it is attempted to be hidden

Characters in
The Great Gatsby
- Realize their isolation
-Cling to their pasts
-Do not attempt to fix their problems
Clinging to the past

-Gatsby and Nick have a strong friendship that develops over the course of the story, where they grow to like and respect each other

" 'This is a terrible mistake' he said, shaking his head from side to side, 'a terrible terrible mistake.' 'You're just embarrassed, that's all,' and luckily I added; 'Daisy's embarrassed too.' 'She's embarrassed?' he repeated incredulously. 'Just as embarrassed as you are.' " -Gatsby and Nick (5.86)
Making no attempt
" 'They're a rotten crowd,' I shouted across the lawn. 'You're worth the whole damn bunch put together.' I've always been glad I said that... first he nodded politely, and then his face broke into that radiant and understanding smile, as if we'd been in ecstatic cahoots on that fact all the time." -Nick and Gatsby (8.154)
Realization of Isolation

-Daisy finds herself alone after giving birth to her daughter, Pammy

-Nick realizes at the funeral that Gatsby did not actually have any friends, because no one comes to the funeral

-Nick remembers Gatsby reaching for the green light on his dock, and realizes how distant that hope was
Who has been isolated

Isolation in the Great Gatsby
Nick has solid relationships with Jordan and Gatsby

-Nick has a romantic relationship with Jordan, referred to many times during the novel

"Her gray, sun-strained eyes stared straight ahead, but she had deliberately shifted our relations, and for a moment I thought I loved her." -Nick (3.58)
Concession cont...
Concession cont...
Daisy giving birth
-When Daisy gives birth, she realizes she has no idea where Tom is, she is alone

-"Well, she was less than an hour old and Tom was God knows where. I woke up out of the ether with an utterly abandoned feeling..." -Daisy (1.16-17)

-Isolated and depressed tone

-Daisy seems happy on the outside, in the inside shes isolated
Gatsby's funeral
-Nobody is coming to the funeral
however Nick urge the minister to wait

-"The minister glanced several times at his watch, so I took him aside and asked him to wait for half an hour. But it wasn't any use. Nobody came." -Nick (9.174)

-Desolate tone, foreshadows Nick clinging to Gatsby

-Gatsby also seemed stable from the outside, but in truth isolated
The Green Light
-Nick recalls the green light at Daisy's dock that Gatsby believe in, even though it was long gone

-"...his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city..." -Nick (9.180)

-Grim tone and descriptive words engage and intrigue the reader
-Gatsby stubbornly attempts to relive his past with Daisy. Even though it is hopeless, he will not give up, which ultimately leads to isolation

-After Gatsby dies, Nick also clings to the past, in the form of Gatsby, who he now believes was his only friend, even though he never really approved of him until the end of the novel.
Gatsby cannot let go of Daisy
-Gatsby can't respect the past, and thinks he can fix everything to the way it was before

-" 'I'm going to fix everything just the way it was before,' he said, nodding determinedly." Then, Nick narrates: "He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then..." -Gatsby and Nick (6.110)
-After the confrontation with Tom, Gatsby is saying that Daisy never loved him

-" 'I don't think she ever loved him,' Gatsby turned around from a window and looked at me challengingly. 'You must remember old sport, she was very excited this afternoon. He told her those things in a way that frightened her- that made it look as if I was some kind of cheap sharper. And the result was she hardly knew what she was saying." -Gatsby (8.152)
Nick clings to the dead Gatsby
-Nick is calling people to attend to the funeral, but no one will come. This makes him realize he is alone in appreciating Gatsby's hope and character

-"I found myself Gatsby's side, and alone... it grew upon me that I was responsible, because no one else was interested..." (9.164)

-Gatsby's death gives Nick a chance to isolate himself, quote foreshadows this

-Nick actually wants to be solitary, he is happy when he is alone
-Nick tries multiple times to leave Tom and Myrtle's party, he doesn't even try to be social

-Nick slunks off to the cocktail table as soon as he arrives at Gatsby's party

-Gatsby, the host of the lavish parties has a perfect opportunity to lead a very deep and plentiful social life, but instead chooses to watch over everyone, waiting for Daisy
Nick at Tom and Myrtle's Party
-Nick constantly tries to leave the party, or at least get some time by himself, he expresses his discomfort in his narration

-"...each time I tried to go I become entangled in some wi, strident argument which pulled me back, as if with ropes, into my chair. Yet high over the city line of yellow windows must have contributed their share of human secrecy to the casual watcher in the darkening streets, and I was him too, looking up and wondering. I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life." -Nick (2.35)

Desire's second act: "race" and the Great Gatsby's cynical Americanism,
a critical essay by B. Schreier

-"While he is as straightforward as he gets in describing his displeasure, Nick also admits to being captivated. Both eyewitness and participant, at once disdainful and attracted, Nick feels at the same time an urge to escape and a sense of wonder. Repeated throughout the novel, this sense of being both inside and outside indicates Nick's alienation..."
Nick at Gatsby's party
-As soon as Nick arrives at the party, since he doesn't know where Gatsby is, he immediately isolates himself, no attempt to meet people

-"I slunk off in the direction of the cocktail table- the only place in the garden where a single man could linger without looking purposeless and alone." -Nick (3.42)

-Irony that he isolated at a party of hundreds
Gatsby at his own parties
-Nick notices Gatsby alone on his marble steps, just watching the party go on, making no physical or social connection to any of his many guests
-"no one swooned backward on Gatsby, and no French bob touched Gatsby's shoulders, and no singing quartets were formed with Gatsby's head for one link." -Nick (3.50)
The great party-crasher; Mrs. Dalloway, The Great Gatsby, and the cultures of World War 1 remembrance,
a critical essay written by Phillip D. Beidler
-"Jay Gatsby, he is always alone. He touches nobody. Nick Carraway makes just such a crucial observation of Gatsby at the height of one of hid lavish parties... He is not drinking; he actually grows more sober and stiff in behavior as the general hilarity increases."
-Daisy, Nick and Gatsby, among others are socially isolated in the novel. They realize their isolation, cling to their pasts, then make no effort of making a new, better life for themselves

-Isolation in
The Great Gatsby
could have been avoided for the most part if some characters let go of their pasts.The incapability to embrace the present and not to dwell in the past led to the destruction of many characters in this novel.

-"...in the mad Jay Gatsby, we come to know the isolation, the mute inability to feel; the strange, off-tune, maladaptive phrases; the restless movement of unease. The assumption of an unreal identity becomes the desperate attempt to have back the vision of the world the way it was before the war, but it is all an insane dream, the whole crazy scenario, the mansion, the landscaping, the furnishings, the car, the shirts, the famous scene in which their lavish waste and abundance move Daisy to tears. He is a hero; he is a gangster; he is a dreamer; he is mad." -Phillip D. Beidler
Thank you for listening!
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