by Virginia Woolf and The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald are two important novels of the Great War. They were
produced in 1925. The two novels are two paired, parallel texts. They possess a
tragic beauty, a major source of their beauty laying in the subtexts of the
British and American cultures of World War I remembrance.
large part they are both novels related to the postwar, novels of the city,
cultural capitals of the English and American identity. They both have parts of
remembrance of the war and both look back to past lives of possibilities. In Mrs. Dalloway to the late Victorian era
we have the world of the young Clarissa Parry as the main protagonist with her
hopes of intellectual and spiritual self-realization and Septimus as her
double, a shell-shocked World War I soldier and survivor. In The Great Gatsby we have a boy, Jimmy
Gatz with his romantic love and dreams of
success. They both are abounding in emanation of postwar sensibility and
mechanization, in imagery of cars, trains, autobuses, of crowded streets,
bridges and highways.
both novels describe a society with a sense of conventional rituals, of
traditional class layers, centered on the idea of the party idea being a social
gathering. They two novels both represent a World War I cultural microcosm and
the cities where the action is taking place, London and New York, are two
capitals of mechanization and machinery.
regarding the writing style, in The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald uses long sentences, occasionally using not just one
sub-caluse. He also uses the idea of the “American dream” in the novel. He uses
a nostalgic and sentimental tone of the past, recalling memories from the Jazz
Age. His first person narrator is Nick, the protagonist. Nick Carraway’s consciousness
filters the story’s events and adds a little mystery to the story.
Woolf captures her personages’ private thoughts, which allow her to move with
an ease from one to another and also aids the reader to take a peak in the mind
of each character. She uses the interior monologue to show us their most
intimate feelings and their future actions before they are done. The reader has
the impression that he or she is inside the characters mind. She also does not
use a central plot. The author mostly focuses in the life of Mrs. Dalloway, on
her inner world and sentimental experiences. She does not tell us a captivating
story and nothing really interesting is happening to the characters. The novel
is a sequence of events which ends with a climax.
the novels at hand, two roles are enacted by characters who are suffering from
mental-disorders. Jay Gatsy and Septimus Smith are both suffering from shell
shock, as it was named at that time, a war-related disorder, which was thought
to be a brain lesion from the bombardment on the field. In nowadays this is
called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or shortly PTSD. In Mrs. Dalloway the main character, Clarissa Dalloway, the
upper-class party giver is one of the victims of this disease, alongside
Septimus Smith. She has health issues and almost lost her life because of an
infection with Spanish Influenza. In The
Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway are the principal characters
which both participated in the war. Nick is the first-person narrator in the
novel and he comments on his own war experiences himself.
London’s postwar society, in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, the invitations for
the gathering are chosen by the status or power. The action is set by the main
character, Mrs. Dalloway, an English woman, who is throwing a very English
party. She married a government functionary, whose house is found in the West
End, amid the wealthy. The only character from the working class in the novel
is Septimus Smith with his Italian wife, Lucrezia, or as she is called in the
book, “Rezia”. Clarissa Dalloway, of the high class, which has a post traumatic
disorder, lives with her life of memory of prewar hopes, of a life of romantic dreams
of an old suitor.
the English representation of a social gathering, the party seems to be the
central activity of the whole novel, being frantic and nonstop. In the American
one, Jay Gatsby’s parties are big, loud and vulgar. They are the exact opposite
if Dalloway’s polite and select party. Gatsby’s parties are also a mix of
different social statuses.
The Great Gatsby starts
with a small diner-party at Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s estate on East Egg. He,
rich, she, the one whose heart Jay tries to win back. This journey ends in a
violent death, just like the I World War. Jay stays across the bay, in a
pleasure palace, hosting parties in hope that Daisy would come one day to
participate, so he can show of his newly earned wealth. He participated in the
war and now he is a subject of the postwar mental disorder or shellshock. Both
him and Nick Carraway show signs of the disorder, as solitariness and a
habitude to live in the past from memories long gone. They have both known the
world of mass death in World War I.
novels have in common themes from the 20’s society culture, as the relation
between new and old or vulgar and select. The war intrudes in peoples’ lives and
from there on a rehabilitation process is needed for those who passed through
it, as the examples are set in the books at hand.
Dalloway, almost being taken away by the influenza, is shown in the novel’s
beginning following her journeys to buy flowers herself for the party. The
outside, the city full of traffic, with its rattling, blustering sounds, an
open space, is standing in contrast to that of Clarissa’s inner, public and
private memories. The outside is a mechanical world in comparison to the
inside. Another important character in the book is being represented by the
veteran, Septimus Smith, who is a perfect example of the shellshock society. As
Clarissa, he has no scars on the outside. Even though most of the victims of
the war were mutilated, maimed, paralyzed, disfigured, he seems untouched.
Instead he has hallucinations and nightmares. He is a symbol of a whole failed
system, an embodiment of the war. He and Clarissa share the novel, never
meeting with each other, sometimes even sharing a single center of
consciousness, but at the end their world will intersect full of consequences.
For him, it is the last day of his life.
theme of the party is a central theme in both Mrs. Dalloway and The Great
Gatsby. In Mrs. Dalloway the party is where Clarissa and Septimus’s
psychological trajectories will converge. As neither of them show any kind of
trauma, nobody thinks that something could be wrong with them. Their diagnosis
comparison to Mrs. Dalloway, The Great
Gatsby seizes less memories of the war and rather focuses on a minor
American war-tale, a tale about “an elegant young roughneck”, who is committed
to win back his prewar love, a woman of high social state, now married to a
wealthy man, of a good position in society. As it appears, this text is a dream
of success and romance and a great novel of the Jazz Age. The two protagonist
of the novel, Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby had been combat veterans in World
War I in the American Expeditionary Force, in the same infantry division and
both had served in major battles. As in the case of Septimus, they both return from
the war without any visible injury, but having in memory a scenery of death.
Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway are fighting with their own version of the shell
shock, as do Mrs. Dalloway and Septimus. They are socially disconnected from
the world, numb. Gatsby seems cold, quick of anger, he frightens people. He is
a man of machines with his cars, phones and his speedboat. Nick also has its
own characteristic mental baggage from the war. He is solitary, detached from
society and ironic. The war brought Nick and Jay together from the beginning,
but it was also the thing that ended their friendship.
with Septimus, we can identify isolation even in The Great Gatsby with Jay. He has an inability to feel, he has some
strange phrases and a restless unease. He is assuming a fake identity and tries
to have back the world as it was before the war, but all this is a madman’s
dream. All the luxury, the cars, the crazy script, the ravishing decorations
can never recover what was once lost.
in the other book, in The Great Gatsby, the
two sparkling social gatherings end up in bloodshed and brutality. Gatsby, the
heartbroken gangster, founds his end on a raft in the pool killed by a jealous
husband sent by another jealous husband. Also, Septimus’s choice is suicide, as
he hints the whole novel, which is no better an option or ending. Gatsby is
murdered by the object of his own trade, a gun. Floating on that raft, it is as
if he is waiting for his own death and contemplating his lost love and dream of
conquering back her heart. Both parties celebrate the death of people, which helped
sustain the civilization.
and Gatsby share many similarities. Both were World War I veterans, who try to
reestablish themselves in society, but in different ways. Septimus is tries to
communicate with other people even though he is full of hatred. Then, there is
Gatsby, who throws big parties at which many people of the upper-class attend.
Even if the parties are just for way through which Jay tries to win Daisy back,
they also help him introduce himself back in the society. Both protagonist die
in the end, but in mean time they struggle with themselves inwardly. These
deaths provide a conclusion for both plots. Both men were marked by the war and
both were trying to reenter society in their own way. Even though, Gatsby
remained stuck in the past and Septimus psychologically scarred.