Comparitive Essay Browning and Gatsby English

Submitted By brooke_gillard
Words: 1953
Pages: 8

Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets of the Portuguese were composed mid-19th century England, while The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was written during a contrasting era, known as the Roaring 20’s, a century later. As the reader, the story of EBB’s love for Robert Browning is seen from her standpoint, and we accompany her directly through her fears of outsider’s views, uncertainties and hopes for her love with Browning. Fitzgerald’s narrator, Nick Carraway, is an observant and loyal man, who creates a strong male perspective of love in the 1920’s. Barrett-Browning’s poetry displays her own strong female voice, in defiance of the traditional format of the male dominated Petrarchan sonnet, the use of this voice allows EBB to convey her strong value of honesty and trust that is required in a loving relationship. Barrett-Browning’s display of lack of trust and sense of doubt in her relationship with Browning is presented to the audience, particularly in sonnet XIV and I. Nick Carraway observes the relationships of the novel, with a sense disapproval, as often lines are crossed in terms of Carraway’s morals and values when he witnesses the behaviour between Tom & Daisy and Gatsby & Daisy.

Throughout The Great Gatsby, we see a contrast between the morals and values, Nick and Tom, specifically through the thematic concern of morality within their personal relationships. The materialistic idea of love, which is explored, emphasises the changing values of the 1920’s and the constant disrespect for one another as within relationships. Nick not having a similar lifestyle to Tom – one of privilege and entitlement, he sees a bigger picture in life and has a greater respect for others. Tom and Daisy are constantly rejecting the established rules of society such as, marital loyalty, in order to fulfil one’s own needs and wants. Tom refuses to loose Daisy to Gatsby, not because of his love for her, but rather for her status he would lose. As a result, Tom treats Daisy as a prize to 'win' rather than his wife. During the novel, through the use of dialogue, Tom refers to Gatsby as a 'common swindler who'd have to steal the ring to put on her [Daisy's] finger' - emphasizing his wealth over Gatsby's in a last effort to buy Daisy to stay with him.

The carelessness of the world in which Fitzgerald’s characters are based, where The Great War had soon ended and there was a sense of celebration in America is reflected as Nick refers to Tom and Daisy as people who “smashed up things and retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness”. This echoes Fitzgerald’s personal life and how he felt his wife had been betrayed his trust. Fitzgerald’s wife leads their relationship to be a mirror image of the one between Daisy and Gatsby, through ignoring the expectations of a loyal marriage. The display Daisy shows by making the choice to leave Gatsby based off money and materialistic values at the expense of an idealistic love confirmations how she has no moral depth, willing to run away from the problems she has caused displaying she is the product of a superficial world and somewhat weak.

In comparison Barrett-Browning encourages a strong female voice throughout her sonnets, challenging the traditional male dominated Petrarchan sonnet form. EBB’s strong use of feminine voice is portrayed through choice of her archaic forms – “I” and “Myself” always being female and “thee” and “thou” representing Robert Browning, her suitor. The reader is forced to see that EBB is challenging the views of a male dominated society. The female voice is heavily introduced in sonnet XIII, where she speaks of her “woman-love” and “womanhood” while writing of her love for Browning. Her voice particularly comes through in Sonnet XIV where she beings to set down rules through the use of high modality words, commanding Browning that he “must” and “do not” do certain things to adequately display his love for her. Despite the expectation of a dominant male,