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The Narrative Analysis of the Great Gatsby

Author: LiuLi
Tutor: YuanXianJun
School: Beijing International Studies University
Course: English Language and Literature
Keywords: narrative discourse duration frequency narrative mood narrative voice
CLC:
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2008
Downloads: 780
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Abstract


The Great Gatsby, which is commonly set as a model for modern art of novels, supplies us with an enormous practical space to study and exercise the theory of narratology. This thesis attempts to inquire into the narrative skills used in this classic from the perspective of narrative discourse in order to reveal Fitzgerald’s unparalleled ingenuity in handling artistic techniques. This thesis mainly consists of four chapters.The first chapter studies narrative duration. Duration defines the connections between the duration of the story and the length of the text. There are four types of narrative duration: pause, scene, summary and ellipsis. A detailed analysis of how these four types of narrative duration are applied in The Great Gatsby is shown in this thesis.The second chapter focuses on another aspect of narrative temporality, that is, frequency, which defines the relations between the repetitive capacities of the story and those of the narrative. The relations can be reduced into three virtual types: singulative narrative, repeating narrative and iterative narrative. This chapter analyzes how singulative narrative prevails over repeating narrative and iterative narrative in The Great Gatsby.The third chapter is about narrative mood which studies the capacity of the narrative in regulating information. There are two aspects about narrative mood: distance and focalization. The section on distance discusses how Fitzgerald uses a retrospective narrator to present the story and the degree to which it is presented in indirect or condensed form. The section on focalization discusses how Nick’s dual position as focalizer in the narrative causes a double focalization effect to be produced.The fourth chapter studies narrative voice. According to Genette, narrative voice concentrates on the study of the narrating instance from three aspects: time of the narrating, narrative level and person. The section on time of the narrating discusses how Fitzgerald’s unusual use of narrating time produces the effect of final coherence and conclusion found in retrospective first person narrations. The section on narrative levels shows how different narrative levels in the novel operate in hierarchic relation to one another. The section on person discusses narrators’ statuses in the novel and their functions that they assume in their narratives.By using these narrative skills Fitzgerald makes the reader possible to keep some aesthetic distance from the events and the characters in the story. By focusing on the narrative discourse of The Great Gatsby this thesis analyses the active effect exerted by the narrative skills on constructing the theme. So the narrative system of The Great Gatsby is successfully constructed.

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