NATURALISM,
MODERNISM, AND THE
GREAT GATSBY
by James Vineyard
Sachse High School
ELA Department
NATURALISM
from “Naturalism in American Literature,”
www.guweb2.gonzaga.edu/faculty/campbell/enl413/natural.htm
• A subsection of Realism
• Humans are studied according to their
surroundings
• Characters are lower-class, ruled by
heredity, passion, and instinct
• Cannot exercise free will, as forces
beyond character’s control limit options
• Frequently in urban settings
NATURALISM
• Themes:
• The “brute within”
• The fight for survival in an indifferent
universe
• Nature is an indifferent force acting on
human beings
• The forces of heredity and environment
afflict humanity
NATURALISM
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Authors:
Frank Norris
Stephen Crane
Jack London
Edith Wharton
STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS
• A literary technique in which the author
uses narrative that reflects the thought
patterns of a character
• Events are often disjointed, nonsensical,
and non-chronological
• Developed in late nineteenth century;
utilized more in twentieth century
MODERNISM
from “Perspectives in American Literature—A Research and
Reference Guide,”
www.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap7/7intro.html
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The first true twentieth century movement
Disruption of traditional syntax and form
International perspective
The artist is more heroic than the average
person
• The artist challenges tradition and breaks
away from it
MODERNISM
• Democratic and elitist
• Traditional and non-traditional
• Freer expression of sexual and political
views
• Dramatizes the plight of women
• Creation of literature that reflects the
urban experience
• Alienation leads to self-discovery
MODERNISM
• Themes:
• Socialist influences: the good of the
collective vs. the individual
• The Jazz Age
• Women’s suffrage
• Prohibition
• The stock market crash and Great
Depression
MODERNISM
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Authors:
Ezra Pound
John Steinbeck
F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Harlem Renaissance
Dorothy Parker
T.S. Eliot
William Faulkner
Ernest Hemingway
THE GREAT GATSBY
• Published in 1925
• Examination of the Jazz Age
• Criticism of adhering to false materialistic
values
• Cynical; an example of the bitterness of
the Lost Generation
THE GREAT GATSBY
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Themes:
The American Dream
The individual vs. society
Appearance vs. Reality
The loss of innocence
Inability to attain material fulfillment
F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
from “Novel Guide: The Great Gatsby,”
www.novelguide.com/thegreatgatsby/biography.html
• Born in 1896 as Francis Scott Key
Fitzgerald
• Served in the army after leaving Princeton
in 1917; discharged in 1919
• Published This Side of Paradise when only
23.
• Unable to become wealthy from writing;
moved to Hollywood to write screenplays
• Died at the age of 44 of a heart attack
F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
IMAGERY
• The word pictures writers create to evoke
an emotional response
• Often tied to sensory details: sight, sound,
taste, touch, smell
• Prominent mode of communication in
Gatsby
IMAGERY
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Common images in Gatsby:
Eyes
Sun/heat/fire
Ashes
Ghosts
Music
Colors
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NATURALISM, MODERNISM, AND THE GREAT GATSBY