Fitzgerald’s use of diction in The Great Gatsby is nothing short of masterful. He expertly weaves together Jay Gatsby’s story using a variety of words and phrases that are both beautiful and evocative. The result is a novel that is both highly readable and deeply moving.
One of the things that makes Fitzgerald’s use of diction so effective is his ability to create imagery that is both vivid and concise. In just a few words, he is able to paint a picture in the reader’s mind that is rich with detail and emotion. For example, when describing Gatsby’s parties, Fitzgerald writes:
“The lights grow brighter as the earth lurches away from the sun, and now the orchestra is playing yellow cocktail music, and the opera of voices pitches a key higher.”
With just these few short sentences, Fitzgerald is able to conjure up an image of a lavish party that is full of color and life. The use of the word “yellow” in particular adds to the feeling of vibrancy and excitement.
Fitzgerald also makes effective use of contrast in his diction. He often juxtaposes light and dark, or happiness and sadness, in order to highlight the emotional complexity of his characters. For example, when Gatsby is first introduced, Fitzgerald writes:
“He was wearing white flannels and a dinner jacket with brass buttons, and he had a pink carnation in his buttonhole.”
The contrast between the “white flannels” and the “pink carnation” creates a sense of duality that is reflective of Gatsby’s character. On the one hand, he is a wealthy man who throws lavish parties. On the other hand, he is a man who is desperately searching for something that he can never have.
Ultimately, it is Fitzgerald’s skillful use of diction that allows him to tell Jay Gatsby’s story in such a compelling and moving way. Through his choice of words and phrases, he is able to create a world that is rich with detail and emotion.
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary masterpiece, is set in New York during the years commonly referred to as the Roaring Twenties. The novel tells the story of Jay Gatsby and his unrequited love for Daisy Buchanan. Though he was once intimately familiar with her, time and circumstance have conspired to keep them apart and Gatsby must now court her anew. But even if he managees to win Daisy back, will she measure up to his idealized vision of her?
The diction Fitzgerald used throughout The Great Gatsby creates the theme of unfulfilled dreams and it also helps to develop Jay Gatsby’s character.
Some examples of diction that reflect unfulfilled dreams are when Nick says “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—-” (Fitzgerald 180). The diction used in this quote shows how Gatsby is determined to get what he wants which is Daisy.
Another example is when Jordan tells Nick about Daisy and Gatsby, she says “They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, her voice muffled in the folds. “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such–such beautiful shirts before.” (Fitzgerald 86). The diction Fitzgerald uses here reflects how Gatsby has nice things but he will never be able to have Daisy and that is what he really wants.
The diction used throughout The Great Gatsby creates the theme of unfulfilled dreams and it also helps to develop Jay Gatsby’s character. The way Fitzgerald use words shows how Gatsby is always reaching for something that he can not have which are his unfulfilled dreams.
The narrator of the book, Nick Carraway, is also Daisy’s cousin and serves as her guardian. Nick was in a way Gatsby’s guardian, based on his protective nature. To express the vigilant behavior exhibited by Nick towards Gatsby, Fitzgerald employs simile, phrasing, imagery, and paradox.
In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald uses diction to create the image of Nick being a guardian. For example, Fitzgerald writes, “If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him” (Fitzgerald 7). The word “unbroken” in this sentence refers to Nick’s loyalty to Gatsby. By using this word, Fitzgerald is able to show how Nick is always there for Gatsby and how he never leaves his side.
Another example of Fitzgerald using diction to create the image of Nick being a guardian is when he writes, “I wanted to get out and walk eastward along the blue beach until it melted into white where the sea joined the sky” (Fitzgerald 9). The word “melted” in this sentence is a metaphor for how Nick feels about Gatsby. He is so loyal to him that he would do anything for him, even if it meant melting into the sea.
Simile is another literary device Fitzgerald uses to show how Nick is a guardian. For example, Fitzgerald writes, “It was after we started with Gatsby toward the house that I looked back and saw Wilson standing alone on the lawn, his arms hanging limply at his sides as though he were asleep on his feet” (Fitzgerald 8).
“The green light, Gatsby’s orgasmic future that year by year retreats before us,” as the quotation above says (180). This green light that Gatsby saw was the future he and Daisy. He wanted to believe that his relationship with Daisy would last forever. To emphasize Nick’s caring nature, Fitzgerald employs words like “believed” and “recedes.”
The past participle “recedes” is used to put emphasis on the future and how it fades. The word “orgastic” is also a key word in this quote. The definition of orgastic is “intensely enthusiastic or excited; rapturous” (Merriam-Webster). This word helps Fitzgerald blur the lines between Gatsby’s dream and reality. The reader does not know if Gatsby is truly happy or just faking it. The use of diction in The Great Gatsby allows readers to understand how Jay Gatsby saw himself and his future.