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The Great Gatsby through Structuralist Criticism

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Elizabeth Lee

on 4 February 2014

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Transcript of The Great Gatsby through Structuralist Criticism

Structuralist Criticism is an organized approach that looks at how a literary piece is set up to critique the impact of the piece.
What is Structuralist Criticism
The Great Gatsby through Structuralist Criticism

While Tom was a young lad he sought to satisfy his ego via football. Tom then continues to try and satisfy his ego by participating in affairs with working class women, while he is married to Daisy. However, his ego is only satisfied during his affair, so when the affair comes to an end so does his satisfaction.
Through out the book Nick follows the seek-but-don't-find pattern. He follows it several times, the most important time being his search for a purpose in life. He has no love, no job, and no friends after Gatsby's death.
Of course, Gatsby is seeking his past romance with Daisy, and most of his other desires stem from this idea. He gets Daisy near the end, but he can never keep her.
Nick comes to the East Coast to learn the bond business and to look for a job. He doesn't find any of these, and goes back to the Midwest, only having become disillusioned with the attitudes of the twenties.
The hero of a romantic quest.
(From Dan Cody to the first meeting)
It is similar to the typical romantic quest of obtaining a bride. He is separated by a body of water from his love, as is common in a traditional quest. Many heroes die trying to reach their goal, but the world is changed forever because of their sacrifice. Gatsby dies (both symbolically and literally) and the romantic structure is complete.
Gatsby's story is embedded in Nick's narrative of his summer in New York. This narrative is structured by the genre of irony. This is a structure of "unidealized existence" of everyday, flawed human beings. In the real world a woman doesn't always wait for her night in shining armor, and a man doesn't always remain faithful to his woman, even when he's married to her. Most importantly, the death of a romantic hero is not a death that saves humanity, but rather a sign that humanity is beyond saving.
1. X lacks Y
2. X seeks Y
3. X lacks Y
(X represents the character,while Y represents a object, person, state or condition)
The Great Gatsby's basic structure
Many of the other characters in the story have their own plots that mirror the story and "seeking without finding" theme with Gatsby.
The one thing every developed character in the story has in common is that they all want something that they can never have.
Romance in the book is shown through Gatsby's narrative, the references to summer, and Gatsby's quest. Irony in the the book is shown through Nick's narrative, the images of winter, and realism. The book shows an ironic structure running commentary on the first. The structure suggests that romance is not possible in the modern world.
Side Character Mirror Stories
Structure of Romance vs. Structure of Irony
Gatsby and Nick
Other Characters
It seems Tom and Daisy are the only exceptions to this rule, and they are often the cause of much of the desire and loss of the things that are sought for. One thing every character except Gatsby has in common is the seeking of fulfillment in material possessions and social status.
Myrtle seeks to be an aristocrat. Tom chases everything that remotely resembles a woman. Myrtle's sister Catherine seeks to be fashionable. They are all pouring their resources into acquiring ephemeral things.
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