Thursday, 14 November 2013

Great Expectations and The Great Gatsby

Do you realise how similar they actually are? 
1st, both have the word "great" in the title. 
2nd, in both books the protagonists from a young age are discontent with their situations and have big dreams- Pip in Great Expectations and Gatsby in The Great Gatsby
3rd, both protagonists more or less create their own names- Philip Pirrip calls himself Pip and James Gatz becomes Jay Gatsby. 
4th, both protagonists move up the social ladder, and while Pip becomes a gentleman thanks to someone else's money, Gatsby becomes rich through dishonest means. 
5th, both protagonists love a girl richer than them and socially above them and thus tied to their dreams- Estella and Daisy respectively.
6th, both stories have a significant house that gives rise to or strengthens the protagonists' ambitions- Satis House (Estella's house) and Daisy's house. 
7th, both novels are social critiques.
I reckon the books have more things in common, which I haven't thought of, but they're probably minor similarities and I shouldn't create the impression that The Great Gatsby is just like Great Expectations. Only the central idea is the same.
Another thing they may have in common is the danger that their adaptations may focus on the love story, the romance, pushing the more important themes such as social issues to the background (in order to attract the audience) while neither Great Expectations nor The Great Gatsby is a love story. In Great Expectations Pip does have feelings for Estella but to me it looks like he likes the image of her, of something beautiful, ideal and unattainable, tied to the better and more glorious world to which he previously never had access and which from then on gets fixed in his mind, she's also tied to the day that has changed his life forever, the day he realises that he's common. It's only later that this feeling turns into love, when Pip sees beneath the surface and comes to understand Estella and loves her for who she is, with her vulnerability, weaknesses, suffering and self-loathing, not for her beautiful appearance. The love in The Great Gatsby is even less, Gatsby doesn't really love Daisy, he knows nothing about her, he only loves the idealised image in his head and all the things she represents. 

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