In what ways does Fitzgerald suggest that life is a performance in The Great Gatsby? BY MBsoselta In what ways does Fitzgerald suggest that life is a performance in The Great Gatsby? Fitzgerald suggests that life is a performance through Gatsbys personality. Gatsby is a “character” created by James Gatz in order to achieve his ‘American Dream’. The fact that Nick calls Gatsby a “character” suggests that he is an actor who is playing a role. When Gatsby tells Nick his life story he talks about the power and influence that he has, trying to link himself to ‘old money.
Through the lies that he tells it is obvious that he wants to be perfect, and in fact when Nick calls him the “son of God”, suggests that Gatz and therefore Gatsby are God. Ironically Nick, the person who knows Gatsby best, is attracted to him because of Gatsbys imperfection. Nick feels “doubt” when Gatsby is telling him about his life, especially about Oxford. In a similar way every person who finds out about his past from Gatsby himself “doubts” the truthiness of Gatsbys words. It is obvious that Gatsby is not a really good actor, udging by the ‘mistakes’ he makes in his ‘performance’.
This is arguable further proof of Gatsbys imperfection and by emphasising this in his main character Fitzgerald want’s to tell the reader that perfection cannot be achieved in real life, only in the “dream”. Fitzgerald suggests that life is a performance through the control of time, Gatsby believes in. When Nick tells Gatsby that he “cant repeat the past”, Gatsby says that “[he] can”. One could argue that Gatsby idolises himself and truly believes that he can control time. He shows narcissistic qualities in the sense that he believes in his own omnipotence.
Controlling time by repeating and experience would be Gatsbys attempt to stop and reverse time. The reason Gatsby wants to reverse time is to return to the time when him and Daisy loved each other, so that they could “be married”. Similarly there is a reference to the control of time in the ‘perfect’ reunion of Gatsby and Daisy. On one hand Gatsby exclamations that “it’s too late” could symbolise his realisation that he can never get Daisy because he has lost his only hance and she is married now.
On the other hand the fact that he “rested against the face” of the clock could symbolise his attempt to control and fix time. The idea that life is a performance comes in with the idea omnipotence director has over what is going on in the play. Although everybody, even the reader perceive Gatsby as an actor, he perceives himself as the director of this performance. Of course this isn’t true, and Fitzgerald illustrates this in the tragic end of the novel. Fitzgerald wants to demonstrate that all people are actors, and the only director is Doctor T. J.
Eckleburg, who has been forgotten by the actors. Fitzgerald suggests that life is a performance through the control of relationships present in the novel. Gatsby tries to make his reunion with Daisy perfect and the “greenhouse” he send to Nicks house symbolises the artificiality of this reunion. Flowers represent a glooming relationship, whereas a greenhouse represents artificiality. By sending Nick a “greenhouse” Gatsby is artificially propagating his relationship with Daisy. The way Gatsby is trying to make the reunion perfect through the superfluous excesses.
Here Gatsbys narcissistic him and Daisy. Once again Fitzgerald proves him wrong through the tragic end of the novel. Another example of the control of a relationship is Nicks artificial love of Jordan Baker. The fact that he “[thinks]” he “loved” Jordan shows his uncertainty and suggests that he most likely doesn’t “love” her. In fact he almost feels obliged to “love” her because unlike Gatsby and Tom he “had no girl”. He wants to be in love and he wants to be loved, so he artificially relationship with Jordan in order to be more like Gatsby and Tom.
One could argue that this is a performance because Nicks love is fake and he is playing a role of a lover. The control of the relationship adds artificiality to romance, making it more like a performance or “dream”, rather than reality. Fitzgerald wants to tell the reader that life is a performance. By including some stereotypical characters of the 20th century in his novel, Fitzgerald is criticising the artificiality of the society of that time. The main character of the novel, who continuously strives to reach perfection and his “American dream”, ironically dies, ithout achieving either.
This novel illustrates to the reader, that relationships with others and their feelings towards you cannot be changed solely through your own power. Even the material wealth cannot be achieved due to the discrimination between different social classes (although there are clear exceptions). Although you could try to fake or artificially create some of those things, but they will always fire back at you; because even though life is a performance, that performance has to end at some point and the actors have to reveal their true identities.