research product . 2016

A Dualistic Approach to The Great Gatsby: Internal and External Perspectives

Engrose, Felix Kevin; Clausen, Thomas Wolff;
Open Access English
  • Published: 01 Jan 2016
  • Country: Denmark
This project examines F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby and the historical, cultural, and societal periods surrounding, following its publication on April 10, 1925. Specifically, the Roaring Twenties (1920-29), the Great Depression (1929-39), and World War II (1939-45), in light of the wonder that it started out with lackluster reviews and only meager sales but later rose to international fame and popularity as the literary phenomenon we know today, all within the span of this specific generation. Applying a dualistic approach to the analysis, the project seeks to both study the literature and the culture, by introducing two different but complementing theoretical perspectives: The psychological perspective and the Marxist perspective. This is done to make sure that both the novel and its characters are analyzed from both an internal and an external perspective, to increase and to expand the understanding of Fitzgerald’s literary work and its impact on American culture and society. The project concludes that a reason the novel was not popular when it was first published is that the materialist and consumerist generation of the Roaring Twenties primarily identified with Daisy over Gatsby - and the way she chose her safety and esteem needs met with Tom Buchanan over her love needs and a life with Gatsby. Hence the perception and interpretation of a character like Jay Gatsby has changed radically through years of cultural and societal upheaval, which eventually caused the novel to finally be accepted and appreciated. In the 1920s, Gatsby was primarily seen as a critique of the lavishly spending and materialistic status quo, and people did not care much for that because of a bad social conscience, or they simply did not understand the critique. But later, in the 1940s, the American outlook had changed forever and so had their view of Gatsby, enthroning him instead as a hero, an icon and idol, and as a role model.
free text keywords: Cultural analysis, The Great Gatsby, Literary analysis, Society, Roaring Twenties, F. Scott Fitzgerald, History, Great Depression, World War II
Related Organizations
  • Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage
  • Social Science and Humanities
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