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The Great Gatsby: Can One Live on Dreams Alone?

Set in the 1920s, The Great Gatsby stands as an American masterpiece, and the story, altogether authentic to the Jazz Age, unfolds themes universal to any other American era. Moreover, in many ways, the novel, published in 1925, created a universal picture of the decade, a picture paradoxically pessimistic and optomistic. As Fitzgerald wrote, “It eluded us then, but that’s no matter-tommorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther . . . boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby also resulted in two movies. In 1949, Elliot Nugent directed The Great Gatsby that starred Alan Ladd as Jay Gatsby, and a cast which included Macdonald Carey and Shelly Winters. The 1974 version directed by Jack Clayton starred Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby and Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan, and more accurately portrayed the themes Fitzgerald expressed in the novel.

The later film successfully captured the careless lifestyle and moral decadence of America in the 1920s that fascinated Fitzgerald and his audience. Gatsby throws wild parties, in which he does not know a majority of the guests who attend. The parties last into the early hours of the morning while guests run around in drunken stupors which ultimately become a metaphor for the shallowness and aimlessness of discarded or forgotten pasts, while booze symbolizes American society’s decadence. In recreating the sense of disillusionment that followed World War I, the movie also graphically depicts the Prohibition era, Gatsby’s involvement in bootlegging and other notorious crimes in his association with Meyer Wolfshiem.

On a larger scale, the movie manifests one of the profound themes of Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby as well as o…

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…emplary and monitary figure- that he epitomized his generation, that he had not fulfilled his promise, that his history provided a warning. . . None of the obituaries anticipated that Fitzgerald would be resurrected like Adonis, the beautiful youth adored by the goddess of love.”

The Great Gatsby is more than an entertaining story. One sees oneself in the story, and the story serves as a catalyst for a deep self-evaluation. Can one live on dreams alone? Can money buy love and happiness? Fitzgerald’s insightful story asks these questions, but it is up to the reader/viewer to determine his own answers, answers that shape his own destiny. Both the book and the movie The Great Gatsby, provide the history student with some searching questions about values, society, and the ways in which eras of American History shape the historical mores and perceptions of a generation.

My Antonia Essay: Psychoanalytic Criticism

Psychoanalytic Criticism of My Antonia

Abstract: This essay uses psychoanalysis as the strategy of interpretation to read Willa Cather’s My Antonia. Freud’s well-known theory–the Oedipus complex–and Lacan’s theory of the Mirror Stage are used as the modes of approaching the novel.

I use psychoanalytic criticism as a means of interpreting Willa Cather’s My Antonia because I find some similarities between My Antonia and Peter Pan, between that and The Awakening when reading Keith Green’s Critical Theory and Practice: A Coursebook.

In the light of Freud’s Oedipus complex, like Peter Pan who sees Windy as a lover and mother, and who develops his sexual identity through this complex, Jim Burden also has a mother-like lover, Antonia, and finally comes to take his sexualized and gendered identity in this world. In the view of Lacan’s Mirror Stage, like Edna Pontellier who wishes to return to her childhood memory, to return to the world of the Imaginary, in which “sometimes I feel this summer as if I were walking through the green meadow again; idly, aimlessly, unthinking and unguided” (Chopin 520), Jim Burden recollects his boyhood living in the great midland plain of North America where he feels he and Nature are one, but, unlike Edna who goes back and does not come back, Jim goes into the realm of the Imaginary and comes back to the Symbolic, experiencing the process of the Mirror Stage. These are the reasons why I try to apply psychoanalysis in the interpretation of the novel. General ideas will be given after the summery of the novel.

Willa Cather’s My Antonia begins with Jim Burden’s “an interminable journey across the great prairie of North America” (Cather 5), a journey back …

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…one sometimes finds one’s self behaving in bad dream” (Cather 158). After then, he feels he never want to see Antonia again; and he hates her as much as he hates Cutter. This accident pushes Jim to leave Antonia and to go to Lincoln for study.

The relationship between psychoanalysis and Willa Cather’s My Antonia has not been defined. I hope that this essay is the first step towards seeing this wonderful novel from a new perspective.

Works Cited

Cather, Willa. My Antonia. Boston: Hougton Mifflin, 1988.

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. 3rd ed. New York: Norton, 1989. 508-598.

Green, Keith, and Jill Lebihan. Critical Theory

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