The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Can The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald and Dickens' Great Expectations be compared? The Great Gatsby and Great Expectations can be compared and contrasted. There are various reasons for these comparisons. Both the writers followed an ironical framework of their stories dealing with the Cinderella romance. Give the points of their contrast as well as their similarities.

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Thanh Munoz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I agree that in both novels there is an idealized love object: in the one case, Estella; in the other, Daisy. However, the overall frameworks of plot and themes surrounding the love interest are quite different in the two books.

In Great Expectations, unforeseen wealth elevates Pip to a position in which he can continue to obsess over Estella realistically, as he sees it. When he finds out his status is the gift of the convict Magwich, Pip is horrified. As George Orwell wrote, Great Expectations is largely a novel about snobbery, a destructive kind of demeaning attitude that persists even in the modern world with our intended egalitarianism. In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby's wealth—which supposedly will enable him to win Daisy—is not a gift but self-earned, though by means not on the up-and-up. Gatsby's association with mobsters parallels Pip's connection with Magwich but is a deliberate association, not one occurring by accident or by fate.

It would be a bit simplistic to say that Gatsby represents the modern world of the self-made man and Pip the old world of inherited wealth. The more important point, made by both Dickens and Fitzgerald, is that wealth in itself is a kind of illusion, just as both Pip and Gatsby cherish an illusion in their idealized love interests. In each situation, the love interest is false in some way, though in the case of Estella, we have the sadly neurotic intent of Miss Havisham pulling the strings, creating and manipulating Pip's fixation and leading him on. In Gatsby, there is no such external device that has triggered his love for Daisy. Instead, the recurring motif in Fitzgerald's work of a man viewing a woman as a goddess of sorts is an analogue to the wider illusion of wealth and "success". With both Dickens and Fitzgerald, however, the underlying idea is the same: the transience of happiness, whether from material gain or not.

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kapokkid eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In my mind, the most interesting contrast is in the way that the more optimistic ending of Great Expectations contrasts with the ending of The Great Gatsby.  So much of the build up in downtrodden guy makes it big to get the girl stories leads up to this climax, and in Gatsby everything is falling apart.  It becomes clear that Daisy is using everyone in sight and can't be honest, even with herself.  But as Pip gets to know Estella better, she becomes in many ways more and more of a proper object of his affection and efforts, in many ways the opposite of Daisy who starts as a somewhat admirable character but very quickly becomes worthy of contempt.  The way that these two objects of affection diverge at the climax of the two novels is particularly intriguing in my mind.

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