Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rhetorical Devices in Gatsby -- Rhetorical Strategies

·         Homily: “‘Whenever you feel like criticizing any one…just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had’” (Fitzgerald 1). The inclusion of such a powerful moral suggestion sets the preface for the meaning behind the novel—where judgement is a recurring theme between people of different statuses in life. This advice serves to be a reminder to readers, and to the main character, that one cannot know the true nature of a person and therefore does not have the authority to make assumptions based on what is perceived face value.  
·         Metaphor: “And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer” (4). Fitzgerald’s likening of life to the summer symbolizes rebirth. The notion that summer brings new beginnings every time it comes, as well as bringing hope, helps the author establish that the narrator is embarking on a new stage in life. This metaphor jointly aids the reader’s ability to see that Nick, the narrator, has left behind one part of his life to go see what new opportunities and adventures lie ahead.
·         Personification: “Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward” (7). By employing such a bold personification of a pair of eyes, the rhetor effectively portrays the cold nature of Tom, an East Egg snob. This rhetorical device exemplifies Tom’s haughty personality by making him come across as overbearing and condescending.
·         Polysyndeton: “This is a valley of ashes—a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air” (23). Excessive conjunctions convey the writer’s intentional discrepancy between East Egg New York and West Egg New York. Fitzgerald purposely includes several “ands” in order to vividly pronounce how different and “grotesque” West Egg is compared to the cultured, high society that exists in the East Egg.
·          Imagery: “The interior was unprosperous and bare; the only car visible was the dust-covered wreck of a Ford which crouched in a dim corner” (25). The scene painted here is one of monotony and evokes a sense of the dismal poor of West Egg. The author is trying to convey to the reader that there is a large gap between how he writes about East Egg people and how he illustrates the sad, gloomy nature of West Egg people.
·         Invective: “‘He’s so dumb he doesn’t know he’s alive’” (26). Using such derogatory language confirms the superiority that Tom feels towards others; Tom is from East Egg and therefore has the idea that he is better than others, especially those of the newer money in New York (West Egg). This quote from Tom reinforces the author’s contrast between old rich and new rich, and serves to depict the snobbish personality of Tom.
·         Periodic Sentence: “With Jordan’s slender golden arm resting in mine, we descended the steps and sauntered about the garden” (43). By putting the main point of the sentence at the end, the author creates suspense that has the effect of simultaneous anticipation of both the reader and Nick. With such a descriptive beginning to the sentence, the reader is left wanting more and awaits finding out what Nick is bracing himself for—which is ultimately his first party at Jay Gatsby’s mansion.
·         Bathos: “Then came the war, old sport. It was a great relief, and I tried very hard to die, but I seemed to bear an enchanted life” (66). The author’s choice to incorporate bathos communicates the over-the-top personality of Gatsby; Gatsby wants pity and for people to believe his contrived life story. The drastic words “great,” “very,” and “bear” intensify the pitiful sympathy that Gatsby is trying to make Nick feel for him, and the speaker comes across as weak and pathetic.
·         Oxymoron: “A succulent hash arrived, and Mr. Wolfsheim, forgetting the more sentimental atmosphere of the old Metropole, began to eat with ferocious delicacy” (71). Using an oxymoron to describe the minute details of how Mr. Wolfsheim eats serves to characterize him and aids the reader to go into further depth. Fitzgerald’s attention to such unimportant quirks reinforces his style of making each character full, so as no part of the character’s personality is left to question. By claiming that Wolfsheim eats with “ferocious delicacy,” the reader assumes that Wolfsheim is not a poised man but that he attempts to be one.
·         Foreshadowing: “…the clear voices of little girls, already gathered like crickets on the grass, rose through the hot twilight: I’m the Sheik of Araby. Your love belongs to me. At night when you’re asleep Into your tent I’ll creep—” (78). At this point in the novel, Jordan Baker, Nick’s friend, explains to Nick that Gatsby and Daisy, Tom’s wife, have known each other for years and are deeply in love. The inconspicuous act of having children sing about what is going to happen later in the book allows the author to hint at the main plot without having one of the characters outright mention it. One can infer that Gatsby and Daisy will reunite and that their feelings will still be the same for each other after all the years that have gone by.
  • Symbolism: “The day agreed upon was pouring rain… [Gatsby] was pale, and there were dark 
     signs of sleeplessness beneath his eyes…The rain cooled about half-past three to a damp mist,

      through which occasional thin drops swam like dew. Gatsby looked with vacant eyes through a copy

      of Clay’s Economics, staring…and peering toward the bleared windows… [then,] there was a

     change in Gatsby that was simply confounding. He literally glowed…and there were twinkle-bells of

     sunshine in the room” (83-89). On this day, Gatsby is finally meeting Daisy for the first time in several

      years. His nervousness conquers him, yet he does not allow it to stop him from achieving his goal of

      reuniting with his true love. The author’s choice to mirror the weather with Gatsby’s emotions

      seamlessly communicates his nervousness and solemnity to the reader without explicitly stating how

     Gatsby is feeling; the tension caused by the undesirable weather conditions causes not only

     anticipation for Gatsby, but also anticipation for the reader.

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