What was the writing style F. Scott Fitzgerald used in writing The Great Gatsby?

F. Scott Fitzgerald's writing style in The Great Gatsby is lyrical and poetic, reflecting the larger-than-life dreams of the novel's characters and the observant perspective of the narrator, Nick Carraway.

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Above all else, the writing style in The Great Gatsby is lyrical. The prose is lush and beautiful, using poetic metaphors and language to tell the story. Fitzgerald regularly utilizes such a prose style throughout, giving the people and places Nick encounters a larger-than-life quality that reflects how new city...

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Above all else, the writing style in The Great Gatsby is lyrical. The prose is lush and beautiful, using poetic metaphors and language to tell the story. Fitzgerald regularly utilizes such a prose style throughout, giving the people and places Nick encounters a larger-than-life quality that reflects how new city life is for him.

Using Nick's description of Daisy from the first chapter as an example, note how the prose illustrates Daisy's charm and allure:

I looked back at my cousin, who began to ask me questions in her low, thrilling voice. It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down, as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again. Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered "Listen," a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.

Nick compares Daisy's voice to musical notes. He uses adjectives like "sad" and "bright" that technically oppose one another in order to create the sense that there is something more to Daisy than her charming exterior admits upon first glance.

This poetic language extends even to the dialogue. Daisy regularly uses metaphors and clever turns of phrase, such as when she claims Nick is "an absolute rose" in reference to his personality.

Such a style is ideal for the characters in Fitzgerald's story. Both Nick and Gatsby are dreamers: Nick comes to the East Coast idealistic and naive, while Gatsby's romanticization of Daisy and the upper-class world she inhabits represent his greatest longings. Therefore, the story's poetic language perfectly fits this novel of broken dreams and grand illusions.

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Fitzgerald uses a lyrical writing style in The Great Gatsby. The story is told from the point-of-view of Nick Carraway, who develops a romantic perspective on his neighbor, the doomed lover Jay Gatsby, during his summer living on Long Island and working in New York City. 

Lyrical writing captures emotions using beautiful and imaginative images. Fitzgerald's lyrical writing raises our sympathy for Gatsby, who we otherwise might see as just another low-life criminal grifter. We read the novel for the beauty of Fitzgerald's language and the way he uses it to make Gatsby a tragic symbol of the American dream.

Some examples of Fitzgerald's lyric prose illustrate the style and mood of this novel. It is a language filled with the rhythms and rich imagery of poetry. Nick describes, for example, his return to the Midwest as follows:

When we pulled out into the winter night and the real snow, our snow, began to stretch out beside us and twinkle against the windows, and the dim lights of small Wisconsin stations moved by, a sharp wild brace came suddenly into the air. We drew in deep breaths of it as we walked back from dinner through the cold vestibules, unutterably aware of our identity with this country for one strange hour, before we melted indistinguishably into it again.

That’s my Middle West — not the wheat or the prairies or the lost Swede towns, but the thrilling returning trains of my youth, and the street lamps and sleigh bells in the frosty dark and the shadows of holly wreaths thrown by lighted windows on the snow.

More famously, Fitzgerald describes Gatsby at the end of the book, extending Gatsby's dream to make it universal to all of us:

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning ——

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

 

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Fitzgerald not only uses imagery and reflection, but also point of view, symbolism, and satire in "The Great Gatsby." The plot is told as part of a frame story, meaning a story within a story, from the point of view of Nick Carraway, one of the main characters, who has come from the midwest to learn the bond market. Nick learns much more in his encounter with Jay Gatsby. Through this first-person (“I”) narrative technique, Fitgerald is able to inject much of his own insight into the narrative by having Nick explain much of Fitzgerald's own sentiments about life. The symbolism, especially in the setting of the novel, is an important stylistic element. West and East Egg are two places with opposing values that can be contrasted giving insight into the morality of each place. Finally, Fitzgerald uses satire, especially when describing the lavish, vulgar parties Gatsby throws and the use of "Great" in the title of the novel. In the end, there is nothing really "great" about Gatsby or the east and Nick returns home to the Midwest where he understands the values of the culture.

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