Comparison Between Great Gatsby and Sonnets from the Portugese

Context can influence the style and themes of a text. A text mirrors the concerns of the time and place in which it was written. The interpretation of a text also depends on the context of the reader. Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning are a reflection of the Victorian era in which it was composed, as well as of Barrett Browning’s personal experiences. The Great Gatsby, a novel composed by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is also an example of the great extent to which a text is fashioned by the circumstances under which it was created.

Whilst both of these texts share a range of themes and concepts, such as love, transformation, and spirituality, each of these ideas are presented in a completely different way, depending on their historical and biographical contexts and also the form of the text. The overwhelming concept shared by both Barrett Browning, and Fitzgerald is love. Although viewed in distinctively different ways, love is the dominant theme which characters aim for. Fitzgerald conveys love as a commodity to be sought after, just as culture within the Modernist era was centred on consumption.

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Whilst the majority of the story centres on Gatsby’s love for Daisy, it is clear that she is not the real object of desire. Gatsby is merely chasing the illusion of perfection she represents. Jordan Baker sums up the frivolity and irresponsibility which pervades Fitzgerald’s characters throughout the novel when she claims she doesn’t need to drive sensibly, because “other people are careful”. This symbolism of the common outlook within Modernist era indicates a period during which negligent behaviour, and careless attitudes were widespread.

Nick’s horror at Jordan’s carelessness also reinforces these things, as well as affirming Fitzgerald’s general disapproval of attitudes within his society. Fitzgerald’s biographical context may also have influenced his representation of love in the Modernist era, as his personal experience of love with wife Zelda, who refused to marry him until he was famous and wealthy. Fitzgerald’s own personal life shares remarkable similarities with Gatsby, both having experienced love which was cheapened by the desire of assets, rather than the raw feeling itself.

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