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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Albert Einstein once postulated that E=mc2, conjecturing that time was relative—that it could essentially be stopped. Grasping onto this idea, F. Scott Fitzgerald utilizes the concept of time throughout his novel, The Great Gatsby, to craft an unrealistic world where only Gatsby can bend the rules, thriving to chase the incessant past.

Yearning to turn back the hands of time, Jay Gatsby traps himself in romantic illusions. He struggles to reclaim a love that is “already behind him” (189). Working himself up to prosperity, Gatsby obtains a house on West Egg to be closer to a women he met five years ago. When he first meets Daisy, “the first ‘nice' girl he had ever known” (155), Gatsby is a young, penniless soldier. Nonetheless, he courts her. The union lasts only several months before Gatsby is sent off to war. Unfortunately, after Gatsby returned, Daisy had married another man. Trapped in the past, Gatsby works through the entire novel to reclaim this misplaced love, trying to “return to a certain starting place” (117). Like chasing a shadow, Gatsby tries to reverse feelings already set in stone.

Fitzgerald allows Gatsby the ability to alter time, to make defunct clocks “tilt dangerously at the pressure of his head” (91). Fitzgerald also references time increments such as “two minutes to four” (90) or “an hour” (90) to emphasize the fluctuations of time throughout the novel. He presents the readers with a world not on a constant plane, using flashbacks and toggling through different characters to present only a vague hint of when everything is truly occurring. With time stopped, Gatsby often vacillates through “in between time” (101)—the magical moment when Gatsby is alone, dreaming of the past in the minutes of the present.

Manipulating the fabric of time, Gatsby is born ceaselessly into the past, experiencing a world imperceptible to others.





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