In the novel The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald, how is nemesis, pathos, and catharasis shown?

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lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The term “nemesis” is usually used to describe one’s worst enemy. In this novel, Tom Buchanan could be considered Jay Gatsby’s nemesis because Tom married the woman that Gatsby loved. Also Tom is indirectly responsible for Gatsby’s death. At the end of the novel, when Nick meets Tom on the street one day and asks him what Tom told George Wilson, Tom replies that Gatsby “had it coming to him anyway” for “twisting Daisy’s mind like that.”

“What if I did tell him? That fellow had it coming to him. He threw dust into your eyes just like he did in Daisy’s, but he was a tough one. He ran over Myrtle like you’d run over a dog and never even stopped his car.”

The term “catharsis” means purging or unloading oneself. In a sense, the entire novel can be considered Nick’s catharsis. He writes about Gatsby in retrospect, trying to come to grips with his own conflicting values. Choose just about anything Nick says in the very last chapter to illustrate this:

And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

The term “pathos” means emotional appeal. There are several instances in the novel where Nick shows pathos towards Gatsby. One is while he is trying to arrange Gatsby’s funeral, calling up everyone he knows in hopes of finding some people to attend the funeral. He says:

I wanted to get somebody for him. I wanted to go into the room where he lay and reassure him: “I’ll get somebody for you, Gatsby. Don’t worry. Just trust me and I’ll get somebody for you ——”


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