Which quotes or scenes in "The Great Gatsby" are good for a new criticism essay that is to be 1.25 pages long?The task for AP English is to write a 1.25 page commentary about the aesthetical...

Which quotes or scenes in "The Great Gatsby" are good for a new criticism essay that is to be 1.25 pages long?

The task for AP English is to write a 1.25 page commentary about the aesthetical value of certain passages and scenes in Fitzgerald's work.

(We have to choose three scenes from the book that are asthetically valuable in terms of imagery, literary elements, style, and language)

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

F. Scott's Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" is replete with aesthetic passages.  For, there is a dreamlike tone with Nick Carraway's retrospective narration.  Certainly, his allusion to Trimalchio in Chapter Seven conjures mythological images of Gatsby as the Roman who has attained wealth and power from hard work. Known for throwing lavish parties, Trimalchio wanted to impress his guests with "ubiquitous excesses seen throughout his dwelling."  By the end of one of his lavish banquets, the guests act out Trimalchio's funeral, all for his amusement. Certainly, Gatsby imitates Trimalchio, even to the point of having a funeral after his parties--only it is his own.

Likewise, the use of color imagery certainly enhances the aesthetic appeal of this novel.  The description of Gatsby's car in Chapter Four and the presentation by Gatsby of all his colored shirts to Daisy in Chapter Five and the green light at the end of the dock seem at first like something in "Fantasia," creating the illusions for the material American Dream of Jay Gatsby.  Of Gatsby's car Nick remarks,

I'd seen it.  Everybody had seen it.  It was a rich cream color, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hatboxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes and terraced with a labyrinth of windshields that mirrored a dozen suns.   Sitting down behind many layers of glass in a sort of green leather conservatory we started to town.

Gatsby himself mirrors the car as he stands waiting for Daisy in a white flannel suit, silver shirt and gold colored tie in Chapter Five. But, the white of innocence and Daisy's car and the cream and gold of the almost mythological car with fins like wings, all change to colors of death.  In Chapter Six, for instance, as Gatsby attempts to recreate the past as he and Daisy come to the sidewalk "white with moonlight" as the front of the house catches the light, where he hopes to "gulp down the incomparable milk of wonder"; however, this wonder changes to anguish as Gatsby realizes that his "yellow car" has become a "death car" that Daisy has driven.  Watching through the windows from outside the Buchanan house, Gatsby realizes that Daisy will use him as her scapegoat so that the "dead dream fought on as the afternoon slipped away."  Daisy's voice has become a "deathless song."

Regarding the color imagery, green is certainly pivotal to the themes of Fitzgerald.  This light at the end of the pier represents all that the narrator could have become and what he has become.  For, green represents the color of money and greeness, or inexperience, of Jay Gatsby who, in his evident consumption, must make his wishes known to Daisy.  According to the enotes essay, "Fitzgerald's Use of the Color Green," both the birth of love and the death of love can be represented by the color green, and these elements are intertwined as Fitzgerald enters the end of the novel. 

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The previous post was an excellent guide.  I would like to suggest that this task is quite feasible with this particular work.  Fitzgerald's grasp of lyrical prose is quite efficient and powerful at many instances.  Choosing Fitzgerald's description of the working poor could be one such moment where you could find much in the way of imagery.  For aesthetic value, using one of the scenes in which the parties that Gatsby would throw could be another reference point where the author's use of style could be present in that Fitzgerald takes pains to describe the opulence and glamour that was used to cover the corrosive emptiness that lie at the heart of the "Jazz Age."

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The Great Gatsby

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