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What is an example of versimilitude in a novel?I need, like a quote, or a specific...

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kn5542 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 5, 2012 at 7:34 AM via web

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What is an example of versimilitude in a novel?

I need, like a quote, or a specific example from a novel (just not in quote form). I'm doing a project for school and I can't find a good example anywhere.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 5, 2012 at 10:49 AM (Answer #1)

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Verisimilitude in literature is described as the quality of seeming to be true or depicting reality.  In order to achieve verisimilitude in a narrative, an author can use various techniques: 

  • Using naturalistic dialogue is certain one method such as dialogue with natural interruptions, hesitations by the speaker, etc.
  • The inclusion of allusions to other works of literature, music, or art.
  • Realistic depiction of characters
  • References to popular culture or history

Certainly, the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald exemplifies verismilitude in several ways.  The setting is, of course, very realistic as the Jazz Age is authentically depicted in the parties of Gatsby and the character of Jordan Baker and some of the other female guests are typically characteristic of the "flappers" of the 1920s. Here is what enotes states,

This was the time of the “flappers,” young women who dressed up in jewelry and feather boas, wore bobbed hairdos, and danced the Charleston. Zelda Fitzgerald and her cronies, including Sara Murphy, exemplified the ultimate flapper look. In The Great Gatsby, Jordan Baker is an athletic, independent woman, who maintains a hardened, amoral view of life. Her character represents the new breed of woman in America with a sense of power during this time.

In addition, the character of Tom Buchanan represents realistically the arrogant wealthy chauvanistic man of the era who felt he could act as he pleased.  His supercilious attitude is realistically conveyed in his manners and speech. In Chapter One, Tom tells Nick Carraway, the narrator,

"Now don't think my opinion of these matters is final,...just because I'm stronger and more of a man than you are."

"I've got a nice place here," he said, his eyes flashing about restlessly.

The character of Meyer Wolfscheim possesses verisimilitude, too, as he represents the criminal element present with the bootlegging and racketeering that took place during the '20s.  Meyer has a Brooklyn accent and he is crude and brutal. In fact, Fitzgerald based his character upon a real gangster who fixed the 1919 World Series.

In another way of attaining verisimilitude, Fitzgerald alludes to Rudolph Valentino's role as the Sheik of Araby in the silent films as little grils in Central Park sing,

I'm the Sheik of Araby,

Your love belongs to me.

At night when you're asleep,

Into your tent I'll creep--

In another realistic allusion, Tom Buchanan refers to The Rise of the Coloured Empires by Lothrop Goddard in order to depict Tom as a believer in white supremacy.

Fitzgerald's book is clearly a tableau of the frivolous, amoral people who populated the Jazz Age; Gatsby is a man in pursuit of wealth and the perfect woman as part of his American Dream.

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