Comparative Analysis of ‘The Great Gatsby” and “The Love Song”
ComparativeAnalysis of ‘The Great Gatsby” and “The Love Song”
TheGreat Gatsby involves a story by Nick Carraway. Carraway was at onetime Gatsby`s neighbor but is now telling the story of the eventsthat took place before 1922. Gatsby’ storyline follows the life ofGatsby and his quest for love in an unfulfilled world. The Love Songis a poem by Alfred Prufrock. Though the Love Song starts as love andromance poem, the theme gradually changes to time, and the writerportrays the effect of social pressure on a person’s emotions. Bothcharacters represent the prototypical urban man who is undergoingsocial change, loss of sensibility and secularism leading them tohave negative convictions about the world. Critiques have argued thatthe central theme used by authors is time. Both authors have used theconcept of time to help a reader understand the frustrations that thecharacters are facing at the time. By using the element of time toconvey a message the authors portray how the passage of time canaffect an individual. This brief paper examines whether time is acommon theme in both The Great Gatsby and The Love Song and assessesthe similarities or differences between the main characters.
Bothstories cover the events that took place in the twenties which ischaracterized by endless partying and fewer morals compared to theearlier generations. During the twenties, life is fast paced,material and has fascinating characters. The story is inspired bytoday’s era where individuals are spiritually exhausted. Theauthors of both The Love Song and The Great Gatsby assess the issuesaffecting the society and aim to restore what they regard as a lostgeneration. To connect with the misguided generation, the writersemploy different concepts such as illusion versus reality, weather,as well as the passage of time. Both writers try to convey theirmessages to the Jazz age by showing them how their current ways oflife can alter their dreams. One of the similarities in bothcharacters is that the themes of time and weather set the mood andtone of the entire stories. Prufrock portrays the evening as a periodof uncertainty. The same concept appears in the Great Gatsby wherethe events take place at what is described as a vital time the day(Gale& Cengage, 21).A good example is when Gatsby was talking to Nick concerning his partexperiences.
Nickrefers to that period as a “time of confusion” that is symbolizedthe evening. Another good example of how the two characters use theelement of time to set the tone for their conversations is during thelast confession in the Great Gatsby this is also the time when Daisyfinally rejected Gatsby. In the telling of the story, Nick Carrawaydepicts time as an object by stating that not even the night’sblackness could conceal the disenchantment of Gatsby’s dream. It isduring this period that Gatsby reveals the truth concerning his partespecially relationships with Daisy “And seeing that it was a softOctober night” (Dickstein,47). Thepast that Gatsby is talking about is October which is also the sametime used in J. Alfred Prufrock’s The Love Song. Gatsby flashesback to the passage of time, and he realizes what a perfect time itwas yet had never realized it. Gatsby craves he could go back intime, but this is impossible. The same depiction of time can be seenwhen Prufrock described his world as covered by fog all day and allnight. This covering obscures reality and practicality. The twostorylines make the characters reflect on their world’s, and whilePrufrock acknowledges that a fog has covered his vision and acceptedthe present, Gatsby is convinced that the mist covered past hereflects on is the reality. Nonetheless, there is one similarity thatcan be seen between both characters: they both have a difficult timeconfronting reality. At the beginning of both stories, the twocharacters seem content with avoiding reality. On one side, J Alfredwould like to enjoy the last period of the day as what he describesas "like a patient etherized upon a table" instead ofspending the time expressing his feelings to his partner. Conversely,Gatsby prefers illusions of a perfect world rather than reflecting onthe reality.
Gatsbyis content with his youth as he expresses that "…thesereveries…were a satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality”(Kruse,13).Homogeneity between the two characters is that they are uncomfortablewith what their worlds have to offer. The discomfort can be seen whenAlfred expresses "Should I…have the strength to force themoment to its crisis" (Gale,13).Alfred is very uncertain with his reality as he fears to lose what hehad. Consequently, Gatsby is also uncertain with his reality andfeels overwhelmed by the events that are taking place in his life.Prufrock’s emotions and reflections are portrayed as being sodifficult that the character himself would not have the strength toexpress them. Prufrock`s diffidence can be seen throughout the poem.The Love Song depicts the difficulty that the narrator goes throughin handling middle age. From Prufrock’s point of view, age is aburden as he is not able to express love to a particular group ofwomen because he is past their age. One can notice that Prufrock ispreoccupied with the fear of the passage of time. Just like thecharacter of Gatsby who would rather fantasize about a perfect pastimaginary world than confront the passage of that time, Prufrockfears that too much time is lost.
Prufrockappears as a disillusioned and sad narrator who is disturbed with thecurrent and has even given up hope on what the future has to offer.Prufrock feels as though he is a just a bored actor in a tediousdrama. Prufrock is preparing for the worst as he sees the world as ahell. Just like Prufrock, Gatsby is disillusioned and disassociatedwith the society he is living in yet he is comfortable with searchingfor love and companionship. Both Gatsby and Prufrock appearself-conscious and fearful of the passage of time. Prufrock isdisgusted with his past and insignificance just like Gatsby feelslike the world does not offer him enough (Fitzgerald,29).Both characters are obsessed with time. Prufrock and Gatsby are muchconcerned with the opinions that others have of them (Eliot,30).Prufrock is worried of the opinion his visitors have regarding himprimarily based on his age. Prufrock accredits his faults to hisincreasing age while Gatsby is disillusioned when his love conquestrejects him. Nick Carraway seems concerned with time as well as heinsists on enjoying his youth. As Dickstein expressed in the CriticalInsights of the Great Gatsby, the changing nature of different genderroles is common in the Victorian era and is the reason the poemcaused controversy and considered offensive.
TheLove Song analyses the impact that economic and social pressure hason a person. Through the ironic monolog of the character, Alfreddemonstrates how the reality of a person’s age or social positioncan paralyze them with fear. The narrator describes his life asliving in hell. Passage of time causes inner turmoil for thenarrator. For both characters their storylines begin as a romance butas a reader moves on they realize that the theme is not loved but thepassage of time by presenting reality versus illusion.
Dickstein,Morris. CriticalInsights: The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.Pasadena, Calif: Salem Press, 2010. Internet resource.
Eliot,T S. TheLove Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.s. Eliot: A Lively LearningGuide.Sunnyvale, Calif.: Shmoop University, 2010. Internet resource.
Fitzgerald,F S, and Anthony Heald. TheGreat Gatsby., 2013. Sound recording.
Gale,Cengage L. AStudy Guide for T.s. Eliot`s the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.Farmington Hills: Gale, Cengage Learning, 2016. Internet resource.
Kruse,Horst H. F.Scott Fitzgerald at Work: The Making of "the Great Gatsby"., 2014. Internet resource.
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