Ruining The Past In The Great Gatsby

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Everyone has to live with their past which consequently is perennial. The past can not be altered or recaptured. There may be attempts to replay the past, but it is unfeasible to recreate the same emotions felt before. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel, The Great Gatsby, explores this dilemma through the characters who wish to revise their past or repeat it. The novel depicts the misfortunes that occur from being enthralled in the past. This essay will analyze how the obsession of retrieving the past leads to ruination in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Fitzgerald’s approach through characters, symbols, and motifs.

F. Scott Fitzgerald primarily establishes the pernicious effects of recapturing the past through his protagonist, Jay Gatsby, …show more content…

Nick, the narrator, describes how Gatsby throws various extravagant parties. But as the story goes on, Jordan Baker reveals to Nick that Gatsby only hosts parties because “he half expect[s] [Daisy] to wander into one of his parties, some night”(78). Jordan continues to explain to Nick how Gatsby has gone to extreme lengths to win back his love, Daisy, and how “[he] bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay”(78). This new information about Gatsby reveals his love for Daisy and the measures he will take to rekindle their relationship. So, upon Gatsby’s request, Nick reintroduces Gatsby and Daisy. During their reunion, Daisy is surprised Gatsby remembers her because they “haven’t met for many years” and her memories of him are abstract and cloudy (87). Gatsby, however, has been so obsessed with her he remembers the exact month they parted and makes it clear that it will be “five years next November” since he last saw her (87). As Gatsby and Daisy grew closer it came apparent that “Daisy tumbled short of his dreams” because his fantasy of her and the past had gone “beyond everything” and he truly constructed an illusion …show more content…

Scott Fitzgerald incorporates the motif of time to portray the disaster that occurs from yearning to relive the past. Fitzgerald first presents this through the description of the Buchanans lawn having “[jumped] over sundials” which is a metaphor for trying to turn back time (6). The path of the lawn to Daisy’s front door is also cognate to the metaphorical path Gatsby takes to reach Daisy. Time is also recurrent when Myrtle justifies cheating and having an affair with Tom with “you can’t live forever” (36). Myrtle is full of desperation because time is slowly slipping away for her. Time plays as Myrtle’s fear and is the cause of her infidelities. Subsequently, Gatsby and his relationship with time is also strained. Throughout the book, Gatsby is living for his past. All he desires is his relationship with Daisy to be “just as it [was] five years ago”(109). He reunites with Daisy and encounters the mantel clock symbol. The mantel clock represents time itself and symbolizes Gatsby’s inability to revisit the past due to it being “defunct” (86). The time motif is essential to Fitzgerald’s theme concerning the idea of recapturing the past and the calamities that will arise from

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