In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald critiques the disillusionment of the American Dream by contrasting the corruption of those who adopt a superficial lifestyle with the honesty of Nick Carraway. As Carraway familiarizes himself with the lives of Tom and Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Baker and Jay Gatsby, he realizes the false seductiveness of the New York lifestyle and regains respect for the Midwest he left behind. “Fitzgerald needs an objective narrator to convey and prove this criticism, and uses Carraway not only as the point of view character, but also as a counter example to the immorality and dishonesty Carraway finds in New York” (Bewley 31). Fitzgerald must construct this narrator as reliable. Due to the nature of the novel, the reader would not believe the story if it were told from the perspective of any other character. Fitzgerald cannot expect the reader to believe what the immoral and careless characters have to say, and he spends so much time establishing them as such. Thus, Carraway is deemed narrator and the reader trusts him.
As the practical character in the novel, Carraway is not rash; he is not swayed by the greed and alcohol as some other members of East and West Egg society are. He proclaims, “I have been drunk just twice in my life” (Fitzgerald 33). Fitzgerald constructs Carraway as a follower, not a man of action. He observes Gatsby’s parties, never fully experiencing them. He observes the moment before the kiss between the starlet and her director, although Fitzgerald never details the physicality of his relationship with Baker. He observes the affair between Tom Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson, but he never confronts Tom Buchanan, nor does he e…
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…y to tell the story, but also to critique the mass disillusionment with the American Dream. Carraway’s honesty makes him ideal to represent all that the Buchanans lack and legitimizes his admiration of Gatsby. No reader would consider the full impact of Fitzgerald’s themes had less attention been given to the creation and execution of the character of Carraway.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Bewley, Marius. “Scott Fizgerald’s Criticism of America.” Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1983.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992.
Hobsbawm, Eric. The Age of Extremes. New York: Pantheon, 1994.
Raleigh, John Henry. “F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.” Trilling 99-103.
Trilling, Lionel. “F. Scott Fitzgerald.” Critical Essays on Scott Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby.” Ed. Scott Donaldson. Boston: Hall, 1984. 13-20.
Essay on Rationality in Homer’s Odyssey
The Importance of Rationality in Homer’s Odyssey
In the epic poem, Odyssey, Homer provides examples of the consequences of impulsive and irrational thinking, and the rewards of planning and rationality.
Impulsive actions prove to be very harmful to Odysseus. His decisions when he is escaping the cave of the Cyclops lead to almost all his troubles through his journey. As Odysseus flees the cave, he yells back “Cyclops – if any man on the face of the earth should ask you who blinded you, shamed you so – say Odysseus, raider of cities, he gouged out you eye.” This enrages the giant, and he prays to Poseidon “grant that Odysseus, raider of cities, Laertes’ son who makes his home in Ithaca, never reaches home. Or if he’s fated to see his people once again, let him come home late and come a broken man – all shipmates lost, alone in a stranger’s ship – and let him find a world of pain at home!” In the end, all these things the Cyclops asks come to pass. Odysseus also makes the mistake of ignoring Circe’s command. Circe had said to forgo putting on fighting gear, or the monster Scylla will cause his crew harm. “But now I cleared my mind of Circe’s orders – cramping my style, urging me not to arm at all. I donned my heroic armor, seized long spears in both my hands and marched out on the half-deck.” Because he ignores those orders given by Circe, the six headed monster Scylla snatches six of the crewmembers and eats them alive.
The impulses of Odysseus’ crewmembers also impede his journey. The ship had reached the Aeolian Island, home of Aeolus the master of all winds. He gave Odysseus a bag “binding inside the winds that how from every quarter, with the power to calm them down or rouse them as he pleased…
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…cates stories of his journeys for them. He even fools his son, Telemachus, for a time, all to ensure that his plans are not compromised. Eventually he reveals himself to his son, saying, “No other Odysseus will ever return to you.” Odysseus carries out his plans carefully and methodically. He even has the gall to speak to his own wife, never telling her of the truth. He plans the suitors’ deaths, first to surprise them when he strings his own bow, much to the surprise of the suitors. Odysseus quickly and brutally kills the suitors with help from Athena and Telemachus. He covers up the slaughter inside his house by dancing and singing, and people who walked by outside thought “A miracle – someone’s married the queen at last!”
It is easily seen that throughout Homer’s Odyssey, rationality and crafty thinking prevails over impulse and irrationality.