First Quarterly Reading Essay

December 14, 2008 at 9:29 pm 3 comments

Maribeth wanted me to post this… 😛 I really enjoy writing literary analysis though, so enjoy 😀

A Proper Balance:

Jane Austen and F. Scott. Fitzgerald are two of literature’s most dominant figures; and as I discovered this quarter, they are rightly so.  Both are master storytellers and manage to keep the reader enthused while at the same time portraying their themes through elegantly crafted dialogue and plots that endear the readers to the characters and the story they have to tell.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a tragic tale of lost love and the never-ending pursuit of happiness that has plagued so many Americans. The tireless pursuit of the American dream is proven in The Great Gatsby to be of little worth compared to what really matters: family, friends, and feelings of contentment with where you are situated in life. It is interesting to note the contrasting viewpoints of The Great Gatsby’s narrator and its protagonist and where the story ultimately leads them. Likewise, Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen is a stunning work of literature, showcasing themes of coming of age and loss love in a beautiful and memorable way. Boasting her trademark witty dialogue and feisty heroines, Sense and Sensibility is a remarkable story of acceptance and continuing to live your life in the face of tragedy. Both novels successfully portray their similar themes, but with curiously different endings.

F. Scott Fitzgerald creates an insightful story for multiple reasons, particularly through his choice of narrator. Though Gatsby is the title character he is not the narrator and this adds a certain richness to the novel because it allows you to see how each individual character is a metaphor to elements of American life at the time, many of which can still be proven true today.  Fitzgerald is among authors such as C.S. Lewis and William Golding that impart their themes and truth in such a way that in order to understand the true depth of the story it is essential to make an honest effort to discover it. The Great Gatsby could easily be considered to be an average tale of American life in the 1920’s if not for it’s parting lines, “ Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… And one fine morning—- So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” It is essentially impossible for the reader not to understand what Fitzgerald means by these lines. In pursuing the American dream we are constantly reaching for an unattainable goal, and in the end what will it result in?  If along the way we give up our chances of love and happiness and die alone with a pile of money by our sides, what was the purpose of our lives? Where is the worth in a life where one fine morning you pass away and no one stops and notices or even thinks anything of it? All your life you are surrounded by falseness, and the very thing you thought might allow you to escape from this cycle is the same thing that becomes your undoing.

At first, all Gatsby wanted was love. It was love that drove him to the military and love that provided the motivation to excel; yet when he had finally reached a point where he could be rewarded for his faithfulness in love he was devastated by the unfaithfulness of another. And disappointment in love for Gatsby was just as powerful as happiness in love. In the same way that his happiness drove him to succeed, his rejection caused him to wallow in misery for the rest of his life. He had everything he thought would make him happy except for his true love and this ended up being a third party contribution to his murder. Fitzgerald craftily shapes the story so that all the events are interlinked, and shows the extremes to which ideas have consequences. This resonates well with Jane Austen’s writing style; however, in Sense and Sensibility we see what can originally happen when characters let infatuation overwhelm them as well as what can happen when they step outside of themselves and look at the big picture of what is occurring. While The Great Gatsby focuses on what happens when you cannot let the past go, Sense and Sensibility shows what can happen when you do.

Sense and Sensibility tells the story of Miss Elinor Dashwood and Miss Marianne Dashwood and their distinct journeys towards finding true love. More than that though, it is story of what can happen along the journey and that the decisions you make and how you act when you encounter these trials make all in the difference in their outcome.  Marianne is initially devastated by her first love, Willoughby. Do to circumstances beyond her control what she considered to be her one true love is forever separated from her because of her economic status. Initially, she lets her sadness overcome her to the point of becoming deathly ill. It is when Marianne makes the decision to continue with her life and forgive Willoughby that she truly begins to live, which contrasts greatly from Elinor accepting her romantic fates and then gradually growing more and more restless in accepting her fate. As Austen aptly phrases it, “She was born to discover the falsehood of her own opinions, and to counteract, by her own conduct, her most favourite maxims.” Differentiating from The Great Gatsby, Austen ends her tale on a much happier note creating a tale where the characters take control of their lives and choose to not let love or dreams consume them.

Many lessons can be learned amongst the pages of these two famed novels, but most importantly is the idea that infatuation of any kind, be it love, dreams, etc., can be quite lethal, however necessary they may be. It is necessary to strike a balance in everything, which ultimately allows you freedom to enjoy and experience life to the fullest.  This important message is well presented in The Great Gatsby and Sense and Sensibility, and should resonate with readers everywhere.


Entry filed under: Book Reviews, High School, Thoughts, Writing.

Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again One Sweet Love- Sara Bareilles

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Maribeth  |  December 14, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Wow, this is amazing. You are awesome at writing essays. Wish I could write like that! 🙂

  • 2. Katie  |  December 15, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    I never really saw the attraction to Great Gatsby. so many of my friends list it among their favorites, but that book didn’t hit me emotionally at all. Good book, well written, and interesting, but I didn’t connect with any of the characters. What did you think, personally, of the book?

  • 3. Danielle  |  December 15, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Really I didn’t think it was anything special at first glance. That’s why in my essay I mentioned how I think it’s one of those books where you specifically hve to search to find the themes and purpose of it, but once you do I can see a few reasons why people might consider this to be one of the great staples of classic American literature.

    Namely, I feel like the part quote is really powerful. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I do feel like it is very powerful. I also feel like the idea of the lost love, and constantly struggling for the pursuit of happiness, and only realizing too late what it really is, that I thought was very relevant and a great aspect of the book.

    Overall, it’s not a favorite of mine, but I did really enjoy reading it. I thought that it went amazingly well with Sense and Sensibility, for reasons listed in my essay. But you know, Sense and Sensibility is far superior. 😀

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