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The Great Gatsby

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Ben Ferguson

on 1 November 2013

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Transcript of The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Chapter 2
Analysis and Themes
Part 1 - Reader Response Theory
The point of Reader Response Theory is to:
Free the reader from the authority of the text/author
Allow readers to construct their own meanings or messages behind the text
Make connections between texts
The purpose of this presentation is to demonstrate the presence of Reader's Response Theory in a passage, as well as connect the main ideas and character development which is relevant. The truth of the novel will also be discussed.

Reader Response Theory can be applied to almost any kind of text, due to its nature of not being bound by the text. The Great Gatsby is no exception, and the theory can be placed on even the earliest passages in the novel.
The Passage
The passage that is to be analyzed in this presentation is the following:
"The only crazy I was was when I married him. I knew right away I made a mistake. He borrowed somebody’s best suit to get married in, and never even told me about it, and the man came after it one day when he was out. ‘oh, is that your suit?’ I said. ‘this is the first I ever heard about it.’ But I gave it to him and then I lay down and cried to beat the band all afternoon." (Fitzgerald, 39)

The Context
In this scene, Myrtle is talking about her husband, whom she married despite their difference in perceived class. She denies the accusation that she used to be in love with him, claiming that she was not crazy for him, as her sister suggested.

Now Myrtle is cheating on her husband George with Tom, Daisy's husband. Though this is unknown to George, though Daisy knows about Tom's affair.

Theory Relevance
This passage is an excellent example of interpretation on the reader's part, and like most passages in this book contains a lot of relevance to the story's main idea and its truth, which will be covered later.

Several questions can be asked about this passage on the reader's part, such as how Myrtle's character can be related to other stories or why the reader thinks the two even got married in the first place.

Main Idea Relevance
One of the most prominent ideas in The Great Gatsby is that wealth and power corrupts peoples' moral standards and perceptions of the world. This quote is an excellent example of this idea, as it portrays Myrtle as a person who has lost all moral standards simply because of her wealth and difference in class, even though to others outside of her realm she seems petty and pedantic.

Literary Style
Fitzgerald's method of dialogue is quite unique; often he has character quoting themselves inside of speech, and often there is no mention of who is speaking, as it's implied by the context of what is being said.

Specifically, the exaggeration "to beat the band" occurs at the end of the quote, and obviously it simply is said to emphasize how much Myrtle cried when she found out that her husband had borrowed his wedding suit, which also points out how shallow she is.

Character Development
Previously Myrtle had already given off the impression to most readers that she was quite heartless and shallow when she demanded Tom buy her many things such as a puppy, but this quote simply confirms it as well as post an insight into the relationship between Myrtle and he husband George. We did not know much about their relationship before, and this quote tells us that it is a painfull one full of hatred and contempt.

Part 2 - Truth of the Novel
The "truth" of the novel in The Great Gatsby is one which applies to modern society even more than the society Fitzgerald cast in the novel.

In the most simple way of wording it, the truth of The Great Gatsby is that the American dream has become convoluted with power, greed and hollow lives of those who are born into the high class without ever learning the skills of dealing with the real world.

Fitzgerald is also saying that the ultimate destination of life should not be wealth, for those who only seek wealth become lost in their own fantasy world where they can do no wrong.

Proof of Truth in Chapter
This chapter is arguable the most prominent with proof of this idea. Besides the passage provided previously, there are many other instances which reflect the ironic nature of the faux characters, for example in the line:

"most of these fellas will cheat you every time. All they think of is money. I had a woman up here last week to look at my feet, and when she gave me the bill you’d of thought she had my appendicitis out." (Fitzgerald).

In this quote, the reader makes the out-of-text assumption that Fitzgerald is pointing out how silly it is for Mrs. Wilson to be saying this when she herself cares about nothing but money.

Proof of Truth in Chapter
Another quote which is important to the truth of the novel is the following:

"I knew he was below me. Everybody kept saying to me: ‘Lucille, that man’s ‘way below you!’ But if I hadn’t met Chester, he’d of got me sure." (Fitzgerald)

This quote does nothing but simply increase the implication of snobbery the "high-class" character demonstrated. There are multiple instances of quotes exactly like this during their conversation this chapter, though most are simply reinforcing the idea that the characters believe that they are above everybody else.
The Great Gatsby is a book riddled with symbolism, hidden meanings and a very insightful main idea which applies even more greatly to the world as seen today.

Though this presentation focused on a single section of a chapter, the entire book can be seen as one giant statement that Fitzgerald is trying to make about consumerism, and about society as a whole.
Thanks for watching!
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