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Reception Theory In The Great Gatsby

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“What the text ‘does’ to us, however, is actually a matter of what we do to it, a question of interpretation; the object of critical attention is the structure of the reader’s experience, not any ‘objective’ structure to be found in the work itself” (Eagleton 74).
This introductory quote from Terry Eagleton’s Literary Theory: An Introduction, explains the school of thought underlying Stanley Fish’s approach to reception theory. It suggests that the reader’s experience, their creation of interpretation, is paramount to the work itself. Yet, reception theory has also proposed a key question of “for whom does one write?” (Eagleton 73). In asking for whom one writes, reception theorists put emphasis on the reader, yet, cannot help but also acknowledge
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It eludes us then, but that’s no matter - to-morrow we will run faster, stretch our arms out farther...And one fine morning -” (Fitzgerald 180). He displayed an incessant need to continuously fight towards his dream. It is this essential quality which runs rampant throughout the text and seeps into all the individual players. From the darker Tom Buchanan’s desire for sexual gratification and ‘idea’ racial superiority while also living a picturesque life, to Nick Carraway 's desire to understand the mysterious Gatsby, as well as Daisy’s own thirst for adoration and affection. The characters of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s magnum opus almost all exhibit a desire to obtain something more than they have now, or in the case of Gatsby himself, something they have never had. Likewise, the reader’s experience is one of profound understanding for the nuance desires of these characters and the tragedy that becomes their lives at the text’s denouement. It is the reader’s ability to foster such a reaction that further builds the aesthetic appeal of the novel. Moreover, the reader-response and reader attachment begets the long term aesthetic value of The Great
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