New Historicism In The Great Gatsby

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Scott F. Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby is told from the perspective of Nick Carraway when he meets Jay Gatsby, who has been trying to achieve wealth so he can feel worthy of the woman of his dreams. Gatsby always dreamed of being rich but was born to a poor farm family. A conflict in the novel is between the new rich, characterized by Gatsby, and the old rich, characterized by Tom, and if the two types of rich are equal. While the novel may seem to take a critical look at the old wealth of America in the roaring twenties if we use a New Historicist approach with a focus on subversion and containment then we see the book in a new light. The New Historicist literary lens takes a look at history as its own piece of literature that has several…show more content…
Gatsby always wanted to be rich and does become rich, but we learn that he did not become rich from his own hard work. To try to earn his wealth Gatsby went to “the small Lutheran college of St. Olaf’s in southern Minnesota. He stayed there two weeks, dismayed at its ferocious indifference to the drums of his destiny, to destiny itself, and despising the janitor’s work with which he was to pay his way” (99). Gatsby, as we learn, had every chance to earn a degree at St. Olaf’s college but choose to leave because he had to be a janitor. Gatsby felt the school did not recognize the dream he had of himself because they were indifferent to his destiny. They did not care that Gatsby had huge dreams they still expected him to work and he chooses not to do the janitor work because he saw it as beneath him. Here we see Gatsby does not want to actually work for his wealth but wants it handed to him without it truly being earned. We later learn that to make his fortune Gatsby teamed up with Wolfsheim, a notorious crime lord, and they “bought up a lot of side-street drug-stores… and sold grain alcohol over the counter” (133). Here we see that Gatsby quickly fell into crime to make his money and used drug stores to sell illegal liquor. Gatsby scoffed at
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