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Narrative Point of View in the Great Gatsby

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Autor:   •  November 6, 2018  •  Essay  •  1,296 Words (6 Pages)  •  15 Views

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“Discuss the use of the narrative point of view in any prose fiction text you have studied

Narrative Point of View Analysis of the Great Gatsby

All stories must be told by someone, and from some perspective. The story teller has an impact of the reception of the story as they control how it is told and how the incidents and characters are portrayed. This person is referred to as a narrator and the perspective in which is told from is referred to as the narrative perspective. The author’s choice of narrator aids with plot, themes and has an intended effect on readers. According the online dictionary Dictionary.com, a narrator “is a person who gives an account or tells the story of events, experiences etc.” meanwhile the narrative point of view “the perspective from which the events in the story are observed and recounted”. There are many different perspective from which a person can write on such as First Person (I), Second Person (You) and Third Person (He, She, It). A great number of stories are written from the third perspective (fly on the wall perspective) which means, the person is narrating, isn’t involved in the events and tell the story, objectively while still knowing the events, the characters, dialogue and thoughts, and all details. Narrators can either be reliable or unreliable. Reliable narrators tell the true story objectively while an unreliable narrators may alter the story, unintentionally or intentionally due to a bias, misunderstanding or the desire to make the story more appealing. 

         The story of The Great Gatsby is one of hope, tragedy, love and ambition.  The Great Gatsby, set during the Roaring Twenties tells the story of one man's pursuit of the American Dream. The narrator, Nick Carraway, is young American man who moves to New York to become a bank broker. He meets a mysterious, exceptionally wealthy neighbor named Jay Gatsby, and becomes entangled in Gatsby's plan to rekindle a lost love with a woman named Daisy Buchanan, who happens to be Nick's cousin. The protagonist, Jay Gatsby, portrayed as mysterious and shown to be heavily involved in illegal activities. He throws lavish parties in failed attempts to lure Daisy but with Nick’s help, eventually meets and begins an affair with his beloved Daisy. Daisy's husband, on the other hand, Tom, is having an affair with a woman named Myrtle Wilson. Driving home from New York, Daisy runs over Myrtle while driving Gatsby's car. She unknowingly killed her husband's mistress and leaves the scene of the crime, petrified. Myrtle's husband, heart broken, is determined to find his wife's killer and exact revenge. Daisy's husband, Tom, who wants to get rid of Gatsby after discovering Daisy’s affair, directs him to Gatsby's house, where he shoots and kills Gatsby, and then himself, thus ending Daisy's affair. 

In the novel The Great Gatsby the narrator tells the story from the first person perspective. It can be argued that Nick was unreliable narrator and thus the lesser chance of objectivity and great chance of being bias towards Gatsby due to the fact that Nick’s shadowing of Gatsby stemmed from his fascination of the mystery that is Jay Gatsby, his wealthy, eccentric neighbour. It is shown in quotes such “He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life” (pg. 52).

 It also can be argued that Nick was reliable and the choice to use of Nick Carraway as the narrator in the novel was genius. Fitzgerald’s use of Nick allows readers to have a partially removed character (from the plot) as a narrator who hardly includes his personal opinions in the telling of the story. This choice allows the ideas and thoughts of other characters to remain ambiguous, similar to 1st and 2nd person narrative point of view but still enjoying the objectivity in story telling of the 3rd person narrative with Nick’s non-judgmental ways. Thus allows readers to formulate opinions of their own without bias from the narrator.

Having Nick as the narrator proved to have many advantages. Nick Carraway is being the narrator and a character, but he's not the centre of the story allows him a bird’s eye view as a narrator or be a fly on a wall, someone who's always on the outside looking in. From the beginning of the book, he notifies readers of his position and view, that "I'm inclined to reserve all judgements, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores”. This is shown when Tom reveals his affair to Nick at a party, despite Daisy being Nick’s cousin, Nick was completely impartial. Nick’s demeanour allows for the relationship between Tom and his mistress to be narrated objectively. Had Nick been different and judgemental, the description of their relationship would have been different and thus not fully capturing the characters as they are.

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