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The use of descriptive language in the works of Fitzgerald, Hardy and Rossetti - Part 1

The use of descriptive language in the works of Fitzgerald, Hardy and Rossetti - Part 1

In the third chapter of ‘The Great Gatsby,’ a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, focusing on the roaring twenties, descriptive language is used to show the decadence and sheer excess at Gatsby’s party.

     ‘Men and girls came and went like moths,’ is used almost immediately, and suggests the lack of importance of the guests, as they are compared to flighty insects who are there one minute and gone the next, perhaps demonstrating the idea that the guests come only to Gatsby’s parties, and afterwards disappear until the next party.

     ‘Enough coloured lights to make a Christmas tree,’ highlights the excess and extravagance of the party, particularly as it is not some event such as Christmas. The idea of ‘light’ almost gives quite a gaudy impression of the affair, and implies that the party really is Gatsby just putting on a show to maintain his façade.

     Several lists are used throughout this chapter, regarding what’s on the buffet table, and about the contents of the orchestra. That these lists are so long and incredibly detailed; ‘salads of harlequin designs,’ could mean that Fitzgerald is trying to make a social message; the lists are absurdly long and could convey the idea that many people at the time were misconstruing the idea of the American Dream. They believed it to be abstract material wealth, rather than about working hard and essentially finding happiness. The fact that Nick reports these in depth lists reveals that he is at least somewhat in awe of the party, either showing that he is quite a shallow, superficial character despite what he says, or that he is among the noveau-riche ad not used to such extravagance yet. If the latter is true, it could make Nick seem more reliable to the audience who would equally be surprised by some of the ludicrous features of the party; ‘there was a machine in the kitchen which could extract the juice of two hundred oranges in half an hour if a little button was pressed two hundred times by a butler’s thumb.’ The repetition of ‘two hundred’ clearly conveys the immense scale of the party, and the expense Gatsby is going to.

     ‘Under the waterfall’’ is a reminiscent poem by Thomas Hardy, that tells the story of a picnic by a waterfall, a memory, that the narrator returns to after the end of a relationship.

     ‘That chalice of ours,’ is used to elevate the relationship as originally, it is just a ‘glass’ that they drink out of, but in the final stanza it becomes a ‘chalice.’ This successfully shows the importance of the relationship, because of the rich and beautiful connotations of ‘chalice,’ and equally the historical reference, which could imply that, at the time, the persona believed the relationship would last eternally. 



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