Essay about An Analysis Of ' The Great Gatsby ' And ' Howl And Other Poems '

Essay about An Analysis Of ' The Great Gatsby ' And ' Howl And Other Poems '

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It is certainly true that the characters of ‘The Great Gatsby’, ‘Ethan Frome’, and ‘Howl and Other Poems’ turn to illusions in order to escape from the harsh realities of their lives. Becoming increasingly impuissant at coping in the process. The question is whether it is the act of turning to illusions for comfort, that is ultimately responsible for their inability to cope and ultimate downfalls; or if the characters themselves bear ultimate responsibility and are merely hiding behind their immersion in fantasy in attempt to remove any culpability for their actions, of lack thereof, from themselves.

The manner in which the characters create the illusions, in which they seek solace, varies between the three texts, yet the resulting destruction and or death of the characters that do seek such solace varies little. It is interesting that the idea of hedonism, as a destructive force is present in all three texts. Admittedly it is unsurprising that this idea is present in ‘Ethan Frome’ as Edith Wharton was a keen member of the American Temperance movement, which sought to implement prohibition in the late 19th century and early 20th century. It was a key belief that in exercising self-control as a society not only the individual, but the entirety of society would be ameliorated therefore it figures that Ethan who succumbs to temptation of imagining a life with Mattie Silver and indulges in the arguably hedonistic act of seeking solace in illusions is condemned to what Carol J Singley calls ‘a living hell without possibility of salvation’ . Similarly, it is not entirely unexpected that this idea is also present in ‘The Great Gatsby’ as although F. Scott Fitzgerald did seek to challenge the ideals of 1920’s society, he was also seekin...


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...t. Yet, readers still draw the conclusion like Nick Carraway states at the beginning and end of the novel ‘Gatsby turned out all right in the end’ , this is because despite his evident faults and the unavoidable truth of his criminal activities there is a sense throughout the novel that Gatsby cannot be held responsible for his actions due to his childlike perception of the world. As demonstrated by his insistence that it is possible to turn back time: ‘”Cant repeat the past?’ he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!”’ , the naivety of this statement is especially striking against the backdrop of cynicism which characterizes much of the novel, and Nicks narration. As such it is evident that Gatsby is merely swept up in the power of his illusions, and that in seeking solace in illusion he loses sight of reality thus becoming increasingly unfit to cope with it.

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