摘 要：The Great Gatsby is a 1925 novel written by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald. Besides great popularity for its vivid depiction of the American Dream, the novel also impresses the world with its skillfully used American English which is interwoven with the plots, the characters and the theme. The article is to explore how Fitzgerald analyzes the class system of the American society and what enables him to express this analysis through different types of American English.
关键词：The Great Gatsbylanguage featuresthe American English
The Great Gatsby explores themes of decadence, ideali论文范文, resistance to change, social uphe论文范文al, and excess, creating a portrait of the Jazz Age or the Roaring Twenties that has been described as a cautionary tale regarding the American Dream (Nicholas J. Karolides, Margaret Bald, Dawn B. Sova 499). Although the American Dream is one of the most frequently discussed aspect of the novel, there are some other features in the novel that are worth examining. One of these appealing ones is the use of language, typical in Fitzgerald depicting class system in the novel. Fitzgerald’s use of American English is very skillful in that it is closely connected to the class structure that he portrays.
It is common but most important in a literature work to manipulate language to distinguish the work itself and the characters involved. The Great Gatsby is a case in point here. In this great book Fitzgerald uses a substantial amount of American English, releasing a great deal of American culture concerning the backgrounds of the characters and the novel itself.
The most evident indication lies in some typical American terms. Like the words railroad, subway, and drugstore, with their British equivalences as railway, underground, and chemist, and they all suggest the American culture-rooted background of the novel. There are many other terms also can be seen as the story unfolds.
Also, some place names, especially those that are connected to the characterization, are substantially American in The Great Gatsby. It seems that the individuals’ social and economic statuses are intimately linked to the parts of the county from where they come from. Some place names appear in the novel such as the East, West, Midwest, South, the East Egg, the West Egg, and so on and so forth. For example, West that represents the upper class life is the place that quite a few people are longing to go and they are making lots of efforts to get themselves get closer to it even that way they speak.
With regard to Americani论文范文, another aspect cannot be neglected in The Great Gatsby. During the narration of the story, the narrator mentions some certain possessions, especially cars, because cars were very expensive during the early 20th century in the United States. Therefore, it is not surprising to link the characters’ financial status to cars. There are some cars introduced in the text that are possibly related to the American culture. They are Gatsby’s and Tom’s “coupes” and George Wilson’s “the dusty covered wreck of a Ford” (30).
Next, more details about the portrait of class and the American English are given. Nick, the narrator, from the Midwest, though not as wealthy as the Buchanans, is well-educated and still belongs to the middle class as the Buchanans and Jordan do. Unlike the Buchanans, he has a pleasant manner to almost all the people he has ever encountered. He sees most the story, making his own judgments from the whole mess. As his impartial standpoint, his type of American Language remains neutral, slightly changing from one situation to another. It meets his identity as narrator.
Different from Nick’s moderate and impartial type of American English, Gatsby’s American English appears to be too refined to cast a mysterious shadow on his genuine identity, about which we can refer to his frequent references to “Trinity Quad” and his refined speeches to the people at his parties. Thereby, it is no wonder that Catherine claims that he is a German spy, and Tom announces a common criminal or a bootlegger. Gatsby does use much refined language to hide the truth that he is the son of a poor Midwestern farmer from Minnesota, Midwest, as it is revealed at the end of the novel, and on the other hand to attempt to please people and find a higher place in the American social ladder, becoming a member of the company of the Buchanans and capturing Daisy’s heart.
Tom Buchanan is one of the central characters in the novel, an extremely wealthy Midwesterner from Chicago, Illinois. He has always assumed that he belongs to the higher class and thus he treats people with a certain sense of superiority. For instance, he tends to call his friends “old man”. On the opposite, Meyer Wolfsheim, from the lower social class, is always replacing the letter “c” with “g” in some words, like when he says “You know Ogg论文范文ord College”(72)
Evidently, The Great Gatsby’s uniqueness lies in many respects, but the skillful manipulation of American English in the novel helps a great deal, making the novel extraordinary.
［1］Karolides, Nicholas J., Bald, Margaret, Sova, Dawn B. 120 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature (Second ed.). Checkmark Books, 2011.
［2］Bruccoli, Matthew J. New essays on The Great Gatsby. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
［3］Fitzgerald, F. Scoot. The Great Gatsby.青岛：青岛出版社,2003.