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"I Can't Help What's Past!": Mourning and Melancholia in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division for Educational Science and Languages.
2018 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The aim of this essay is to present Nick's, Gatsby's and Daisy's relations to their pasts, as they have the strongest connections to their previous history. In particular focus will be on what constitutes their losses from a psychoanalytic perspective, and the Freudian framework of mourning and melancholia will be applied. In his work from 1917, Freud claimed that both mourning and melancholia are responses to loss. However, mourning is seen as the healthy and conscious response to loss, whereas melancholia is a pathological and paralyzing response. Therefore, I interpret the novel as an exploration of how the different attitudes towards loss affect the main characters and their relation to the future.

As this essay will show, both Nick and Daisy display mourning, in contrast to Gatsby who represents the more pathological state of melancholia. This results in Gatsby's unwillingness to let go of the past, and causes his obsession with having it repeated. Nick and Daisy, on the other hand, have an awareness of their losses, which eventually leads to an acceptance and therefore detachment from what they have lost.

In Chapter One, a few of the critical readings of the novel that are relevant for the essay will be summarized, as well as a deeper explanation of Freud’s framework and his theory regarding mourning and melancholia. An introduction to the Lost Generation will also be provided, together with modernism and the American Dream, as they deepen the understanding for the novel’s historical and societal context and connect with the themes of loss, mourning and melancholia.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. , p. 30
Keywords [en]
Literature studies, psychoanalytics
National Category
General Literature Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-12503Local ID: EON200OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-12503DiVA, id: diva2:1220582
Subject / course
English
Examiners
Available from: 2018-06-26 Created: 2018-06-19 Last updated: 2018-06-26Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
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  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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