Monthly Archives: July 2013

A Review: The Great [well fantastic] Gatsby

Hello my beautiful readers (the few there are of you) just wanted to say a huge thank you for continuing to read my reviews. Any suggestions given are really appreciated. Anyway, this is my review of ‘The Great Gatsby’. I chose to review this as I studied it for AS Literature, so if you’re looking to do Literature at college this should help.
-Jess x

The 1920s affluent society is one which often has a hazed image and stereotype attached. It is seen to be a time in American especially, which is completely at ease and bliss. The Great Gatsby challenges this perception, thusly bringing the era of carelessness out of the dark. No longer is it being seen through rose tinted spectacles but instead through the eyes of clarity.

Now, in order to read this book I’d recommend a cup of tea, two sugars, milk in last and an accepting imagination. Simply because tea is great and Fitzgerald paints a world that we need to accept in order to understand the full extent of that particular society. And yes, it’s essential that the milk is put in last-it’s just not the same otherwise.

Fitzgerald presents an insightful image of the nouveau riche in his novel. Jay Gatsby himself is an example of this type of wealth, as the money his has is known as ‘new money’. Tom Buchanan in contrast has wealth which has been established generations prior to him. As a result Tom is seen as a higher class, and Gatsby is desperate to reach that status.

The Great Gatsby is ultimately a love story as throughout the novel Gatsby’s main aim is to impress Daisy (wife to Tom) as before Gatsby came into his ‘new money’ he was too poor for her. Now that Gatsby has money to his name he is intent on using that money to gain her affections. His ostentatious yellow Rolls Royce and extravagant parties are designed to separate him from the crowd.  The first part of the novel doesn’t really address Gatsby’s affections for Daisy; this could suggest that Fitzgerald was not trying to present a romance. However, before even opening Chapter One pay attention to the epigraph placed before the novels ‘start’. The quote taken from Thomas Parke D’Invilliers tells us from the outset that this is a story ultimately about love.

Nick Carraway tells us Gatsby’s story, or his version of it to say the least. In the very first chapter Nick says;
    ‘’Gatsby, who represented every-thing for which I have some unaffected scorn.’’
Making it clear to us that Nick didn’t agree with the 1920s society, as he knows the results of it, it also suggests that Gatsby embodies all of the aspects of this society. In this same section Nick says;
     ‘’What foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams’’
Foreshadowing that something bad is likely to happen to Gatsby, and throughout the whole novel I found myself asking why and how.

It is clear Fitzgerald knows and understands his characters deeply, as each one of them has its own story embedded into the narrative in some way or another, whether it is told through Nick or through the characters. No character is unneeded or is a mere spare part. All areas of society are covered, from the rich Buchanan’s to the less fortunate Wilson’s and this is due to the vast characters with their diverse backgrounds.  

The symbolism throughout the novel is extremely clever and stays with you no matter how many times you read the novel. The plot takes you on an emotional track regarding in particular both Nick and Gatsby, as at points you can feel like you’re feeling the same as them. This is due to the way Fitzgerald moulds his characters into more than what they essentially are; they are not just characters they are people. The Great Gatsby is easily one of the greatest novels to come out of America, which is why so many degrees and A level students study it! So it’s worth a read. I’ve read it four times and I still cry when a certain something happens…

Also after reading The Great Gatsby I can safely say that LEO MAKES A GREAT GATSBY (HA SEE WHAT I DID THERE?) AND HE’S GORGEOUS AND I NEED TO SEE THAT FILM.

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1984? perhaps 2084? Orwell’s guess is as good as ours.

Ever wondered what it would be like if a political party such as the Nazis had reached its full potential? Granted, the thought of that alone is bloody terrifying, although apparently Britain was going to be Germany’s holiday Island? (Karma would see to the awful weather) Why not go one step further and find out for yourself?

Because basically I reckon Orwell’s novel is effectively that. However remember;
‘’No two persons ever read the same book.’’(Edmund Wilson)
So you might have a different approach (Let me know your ideas too!).  But, yeah let’s cut to the chase. George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, so many opinions!

The dystopian genre is obvious; however it’s not your bog- standard zombie or blowing up stuff type apocalypse.  It’s much more than that, this novel shows a world of ruin due to an omnipresent government known as Big Brother (luckily for them it’s more successful than the TV show).

Areas of media are used by Big Brother to control and brainwash the entire population. For example Big Brother appears in people’s homes on what is called a Telescreen. This device allows for no privacy, instead elite forces can see everything you are doing! Propaganda is also clear through this novel, and people denounced (dobbed in) other people (much like in Nazi Germany!).

Literature is in the process of being wiped out due to the new language aka Newspeak taking over. Sex is banned- thought I’d throw that one in there. People are trained to think, speak and Doublethink (What’s that? Read the book and find out!) And ultimately they are crafted into copies of Big Brother with no sense of identity.  The population is controlled via different sections within the government; Minipax, Miniplenty, Miniluv, Minitrue. All of these sections deal with different things and help create a totalitarian government.

Nineteen Eighty-Four was written in 1948 and published in 1949- lucky guess when it’s set. It’s written just after the Nazi party had been wiped out, and Communist Russia was at large (coincidence I think not!). It is set years after the government has taken over the world and therefore is unstoppable. The protagonist is a man named Winston Smith; he is a member of the Outer Party meaning that he himself has no involvement in the elite’s doings. We are taken on his journey of the events through his love affair with Julia and his treatment from the Inner Party and Big Brother.

So, now you know a bit about the story. More opinions! First of all I’d like to mention that at this rate I’m going to have to read some deliberately god awful books just so you can experience a rant. Until then I will express how utterly brilliant this book is. Ultimately Orwell’s aim was to warn the general public of these harsh Dictators (E.g. Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini). What’s interesting is that these threats and warnings can be transferred to today’s society, a prime example being Colonel Gaddafi. So bearing in mind these things are still happening Orwell’s novel still has a righteous place on our shelves. And in my opinion, should be listened to. Ok, so some of the ideas may be a little farfetched, but I’m sure Orwell would hate to say ‘’I told you so’’.

One could argue that all sympathy is felt because of the things that happen to the characters being so awful, not because the reader really knows the character. In a sense this is true, however ultimately the sympathy and message is still conveyed in some way, so it’s still worth a shot.  Orwell did a pretty good job in expressing a non-existent modern culture in such an imaginative way whilst still conveying the message of political corruption. He creates a fabricated world, history is rewritten and people have no opinions, all of this is seeded from the 1940s. The collaboration of Julia and Winston as a couple is interesting as Julia is presented as a promiscuous character whilst Winston is more level headed and concerned with the state of the world. Due to sex being banned along with freedom of thought being banned the couple create a complete rebellion. There is a point where Winston says to Julia “[You’re a] rebel from the waist down,” oi oi! The full effects of this form of government can therefore be shown.

It’s a haunting story, a horror in my opinion.
WAR IS PEACE.

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY.

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
Simply sticks in my mind since reading the novel. When a story allows you to take something so crucial away from it, then it is clearly achieving a purpose. One of an author’s main aims is to present you with something unforgettable, and something that may as a result impact the rest of your life.

So give it a go!

Would read it again!- 8/10

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A Review: Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë, 1847)

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After I’d turned the final page of this novel, I was left with the haunting presence of Jane as this classic told the story of a life which I myself did not want to let go of. Upon reading Jane Eyre I was placed in a world of complete parallel to my own, yet I felt I could sympathize with Jane completely. This is due to the fact that Jane Eyre is written in a way that creates an autobiographical presence of the protagonist at hand; this is skilfully crafted by Charlotte Brontë as the character she created seems almost real. The only hint of reality being Brontë’s name branded on the front cover.

Delving into the first chapter alone I was immediately pulled and entrenched into the life of Jane. It is as if you are seeing the world through her childish eyes. The unreasonable punishments inflicted upon her sentence Jane to the ‘Red Room’. This chilling segment to the book really captivates the gothic genre and haunting era. Seeing Jane’s life unfold from a young age through to adult life allows us to know her as a person as well as a character. It allows us to see the cause and effect of her characteristics, and therefore it allows us to connect with Jane on a level which with most characters simply is not possible. As the reader does not know the character in question.

After a while of reading I felt that Jane didn’t really have anything to spark up her life. And then with her new job as a governess along came a love affair leaving Jane completely intoxicated. Twists and turns in their relations (aided by others that I won’t mention!) lead to Jane needing to run away in order for her to realize what she has left behind.
‘’Make my happiness- I will make yours’’
The strength of Jane’s emotions towards her lover are so clear. Whilst reading, I found myself both happy and sad when she was as the beautiful writing style allows an extremely deep connection to be made.

This novel can be looked at in a number of different lights. A feminist view can be taken in the sense that Jane is a strong woman who builds herself up from a tainted childhood, also the fact that Charlotte, along with her sister Emily and her mother Anne were female writers of the time this being a complete rarity (although they did not publish in their own names). Another viewpoint could be that of a Marxist one, as we see Jane struggle with little money regardless of her kind nature, and in contrast many of the wealthy are rich and insensitive.  A book that can be read from so many viewpoints can only mean it’s worth a try.

The worst part was shutting it for the last time- 9/10

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