The Great Gatsby and Technocriticism

Note: I think I wrote the wrong blog assignment, forgive me!

While The Great Gatsby is often viewed in many other different lenses of criticism such as focusing on the idea of the American Dream or how the women are depicted within the novel, there is usually little in the way of technology that is mentioned when the novel is discussed. When focusing on this aspect however we can certainly notice various aspects of the text when technology plays an important role, at the very least when serving as literary devices.

One of the first technologies we might notice throughout the novel would be that of light. Everything is lit up and Gatsby’s house is once described by Nick as appearing like the World’s Fair. There are also the memorable scenes of Gatsby staring off across the waters at the green light at the end of the dock.

What I decided to focus on, however, is the prominence of cars in the novel. Specifically, in chapter 8. Here is the scene in which Tom takes Gatsby’s car after an argument about the amount of gas in his tank. In this scene not only is the car a dominant feature, but gasoline as well as commercialism and advertisement. We can also perhaps notice how drug stores might have been that day’s Wal-Marts: “And if it runs out I can stop at a drug store. You can buy anything at a drug store nowadays.” (p 127)

(As a sort of aside, Tom mentions science in an interestingly strange way, “Perhaps I am, but I have a- almost a second sight, sometimes, that tells me what to do. Maybe you don’t believe that, but science-” [p 128])

The second moment in this chapter I found very significant toward a technocriticism of the novel is when Nick spots Eckleburg’s billboard: “Then as Doctor T.J. Eckleburg’s faded eyes came into sight down the road, I remembered Gatsby’s caution about gasoline.”

In a strange sort of way, Nick is influenced by an advertisement for eye-glasses to remember to buy gas (might have thought of it simply because maybe they really did need gas).  This is also the chapter in where Myrtle is run over. Before discussing this moment however, I want to point out two interesting quotes from Nick on p 143:

“I was thirty. Before me stretched the portentous menacing road of a new decade.”

“So we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight.”

Now comes the big moment of the chapter: Myrtle’s death. The car is the vital instrument in not only her death, but indirectly Gatsby’s as well.

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2 Responses to “The Great Gatsby and Technocriticism”

  1. April 8th, 2013 | 8:37 pm

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  2.   Donna
    April 23rd, 2013 | 4:32 am

    Great information. Lucky me I found your blog by chance (stumbleupon). I’ve book marked it for later!

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