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The New World as a Symbol in The Great Gatsby

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Matt Kantor

on 10 December 2015

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Transcript of The New World as a Symbol in The Great Gatsby

Context
The Passage
"And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors' eyes--a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby's house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder" (180)
Analysis Part 1
"And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors' eyes--a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby's house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams
Analysis 2
...for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder."
Significance
No More New Worlds:
The "New World" as a Symbol of the American Dream in
The Great Gatsby

"On the last night" (179)
"He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night" (180).
By Matt Kantor
"I went over and looked at that huge, incoherent failure of a house once more" (179)
"I wandered down to the beach sprawled out on the sand" (180)
The New World = A Breast
The New World, like Myrtle's mutilated chest "hanging loose like a flap" (137), is lost to us.
The dream of a New World is ruined or corrupted.
"Commensurate to his capacity for wonder"
commensurate
= "in proportion to"
capacity for wonder
"Gatsby's
wonder
when he first picked out the green light" (180)
"incomparable milk of
wonder
" (110)
The old "New World"
The dream of a New World is lost to the past.
Nothing, save a New World, can ever truly satisfy our dreams.
"Daisy tumbled short of his dreams" (95)
"[Gatsby had] some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life" (2)
"Oh, you want too much!" (132)
"borne back ceaselessly to the past" (180)
"an extraordinary gift for hope" (2)
2. Gatsby is the Great Dreamer
1. New World is the Dream
The Last Time in History
Although Gatsby's dream is only five years old, it is just as lost to the past as the Dutch sailors' discovery of the New World
"Inessential houses"
"At his lips' touch she blossomed for him like a flower" (111)
"...the old island that flowered once for Dutch sailors..." (180)
Undiscovered America is to settlers as Daisy is to Gatsby
New World = Daisy
...had once pandered...
to pander
= to pimp out or to cater to peoples' vulgar desires
The dream of the New World has always had a shade of corruption
= Empty wealth
Full transcript