How might this quote from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald be rewritten in Elizabethan language? "Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people...

How might this quote from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald be rewritten in Elizabethan language?

"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."

Asked on by bergcar

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The quote you mention is found in chapter one of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The narrator, Nick, is the one who speaks the line in the novel, but it is his father that he is quoting here. His father is a sage giver of advice, apparently, and Nick feels the need to share with us some of the things his father taught him.

We can tell from this quote that Nick's father clearly wanted his son to remain humble (though Nick also tells us that he is "the most honest person I know," which of course does not sound particularly humble to me). This kind of advice-giving sounds a little like Polonius in William Shakespeare's Hamlet, which is, as you know, an Elizabethan text. Though Polonius is much wordier and significantly more pompous, he gives his son, Laertes, a mini-lecture about what to do and what not to do just before Laertes returns to school. This seems to prove the fact that fathers have always felt the need to give advice to their children (sons in particular).

In Act I scene iii, Polonius says to Laertes:

Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice; 
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment. 

Nick's father said:

"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."

If we were to rewrite this advice in the same kind of language Polonius used to talk to Laertes, it might sound something like this:

Remember, when thou art tempted to censure another man, to reserve thy judgment, as that scoundrel mayhap hath not the benefits thou hast enjoyed.

Another version might look like this:

When thou dost feel the need to pass judgment on another, do thou recall that he mayest not posses the beneficences thou hast graciously received from thy father.

Sources:

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