The significance of flashbacks in the novel, The Great Gatsby Free Essay Example

April 13, 2022 by Essay Writer

A character’s attempt to recapture or reject the past is an important aspect in many novels, plays and poems. Choose a work in which a character views the past with such feelings a reverence, bitterness, or longing. Reveal how the character’s view of the past is used to develop a theme in the work. In literature, memories of the past are often used to convey a character’s inner beliefs and values. The character’s attempt to recapture or even to reject the past suggests his or her true emotions such as reverence, bitterness, and longing.

In The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald, issues regarding the past are closely tied to Jay Gatsby’s character as he both longs for past and yet runs away from it. The past that he attempts to revive throughout the novel is the one he once shared with Daisy, who is the love of his life. Gatsby’s desire to have his relationship with Daisy reignited has led him to chase after the past.

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On the other hand, Gatsby also strives to reject the past. This includes the time frame before his encounter with Daisy, which is when he was much younger and was just the son of unsuccessful farm people.

It is deducible that with the goal of rejecting this past, Gatsby has worked his way up to fit into the upper class of society. Overall, past memories and events plays a major role in reconstructing Gatsby as an individual. Throughout this novel Gatsby is portrayed as a member of the upper class in society through descriptions of his luxurious mansion and ongoing lavish parties.

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However, beyond that wealthy shell is a man who once lived in poverty. This is the past that Gatsby tries to reject. “His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people-his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all. This quote evidently shows that Gatsby lives in denial and tries to block out his memories as a poor citizen. Wealth became such an important aspect of life that Gatsby took off from home in hopes of building his own fortune. This was expressed by his father, Mr Gatz; “Of course we was broke up when he run off from home, but I see now there was a reason for it. He knew he had a big future in front of him. ” Gatsby’s determination to run away from his past that was overshadowed by poverty is also reflected when he changed his name from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby.

This identity change marked a new beginning to a future that will be filled with fortune. Gatsby was not only able to erase his wealth less past from his own name, but also to hide it from the face of society. Throughout the novel, Gatsby’s true identity was left anonymous and nobody knew who he actually was and how he earned his fortune. This is supported by the mysterious tone in the voices of the people when discussing Gatsby’s past. “I heard that from a man who knew all about him, grew up with him in Germany,”… “Oh, no,” said the first girl, “it couldn’t be that, because he was in the American army during the war. In this quote, Fitzgerald incorporates an abundant use of diction that suggests rumors. Furthermore, the presence of disagreement arouses a sense of uncertainty, which adds to the mysterious tone present in the conversation. This suggests the ambiguous life that Gatsby led despite the fame he gained from all the parties he has hosted. In addition, Gatsby hides his true identity from society by lying about his past. “I am the son of some wealthy people in the Middle West-all dead now. I was brought up in America but educated at Oxford, because all my ancestors have been educated there for many years.

It is a family tradition. ” He is ashamed of the poor lifestyle that he had once lived in and clears it from his identity by lying about it. He tells everyone that he studied in Oxford and this aroused more rumors for many do not believe his words. Overall, Gatsby, in order to reject his past, lives with indistinct lies to alter the perception that society have towards him. Although Gatsby chose to reject and hide his past by adopting a changed lifestyle and covering his needy past with lies of wealth and power, he still holds a strong desire and longing for his past, particularly the time he spent with Daisy.

Gatsby and Daisy shared a history of being in a love affair that was forbidden due to their differences in social status. This drove Gatsby to chase after the American dream. However, despite having successfully obtained wealth and power, Gatsby still needs to recapture his past in order to be at complete happiness. He is nostalgic for the times he had with Daisy and this is significantly suggested when he “bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay. ” Gatsby also talked about his past with Daisy to Nick and it is through their conversation where Gatsby’s true memories with Daisy are revealed to readers.

A significant moment that Gatsby recalled was their first kiss. “At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete. ” The visual imagery of blossoming flowers reflects the softness of their kiss, which further suggests their love at that time. Furthermore, the detailed description of that kiss conveys to readers the extent that Gatsby treasured such memory. He even compared it to the incarnation of a flower. All these truly reflect Gatsby’s sincere love towards Daisy and his longing to recapture the past that they once shared. Overall, the past functions as a treasure and also an embarrassment to Gatsby.

His childhood that was characterized by poverty has made him degrade himself and think of himself as unworthy of Daisy’s love. To overcome that, he decided to leave the past behind and build a better future. During that process he has told lies regarding his past to an extent where nobody truly knows his origins. However, despite all the change that he has done to his past, he still longs for one unchangeable piece of it – Daisy. His true love for Daisy has led him to become the man he is, with hopes and dreams of reigniting and recapturing the past that they once shared in Louisville.


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