Title

The Pervasion of Hopelessness in a Modernist World

Presenter Information

Ashlynn Andersen

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

Through my research and close analysis of both T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, I have found that, though the two works appear very different at the surface, both share a pervading sense of hopelessness, and use similar techniques to convey this dissolution. Eliot’s The Waste Land epitomizes the hopelessness felt by many modernist writers in the years following WWI, after the near-complete devastation of Europe. Eliot’s wasteland is a vortex of hopelessness, where no possibility for regeneration exists. It is as thought the world had ended but people went on living as Eliot suggests through his image of an “Unreal City” and his assertion that he “had not thought death had undone so many.” Europe has become a vast continent of the living dead. In contrast, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, another modernist work, appears, on the surface, lighthearted and all-American, a tale about love, the American Dream, and prosperity in 1920’s New York. In my paper, I show that, upon deeper examination, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby shares Eliot’s pervasive sense of hopelessness, and that he demonstrates this concept just as well as Eliot does, through the use of similar thematics – namely, the idea that humanity’s needs and desires will eventually bring about destruction in a hopeless world, and through the inclusion of hope so as to intensify this hopelessness.

Category

Humanities

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Apr 13th, 9:40 AM Apr 13th, 10:00 AM

The Pervasion of Hopelessness in a Modernist World

UC 332

Through my research and close analysis of both T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, I have found that, though the two works appear very different at the surface, both share a pervading sense of hopelessness, and use similar techniques to convey this dissolution. Eliot’s The Waste Land epitomizes the hopelessness felt by many modernist writers in the years following WWI, after the near-complete devastation of Europe. Eliot’s wasteland is a vortex of hopelessness, where no possibility for regeneration exists. It is as thought the world had ended but people went on living as Eliot suggests through his image of an “Unreal City” and his assertion that he “had not thought death had undone so many.” Europe has become a vast continent of the living dead. In contrast, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, another modernist work, appears, on the surface, lighthearted and all-American, a tale about love, the American Dream, and prosperity in 1920’s New York. In my paper, I show that, upon deeper examination, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby shares Eliot’s pervasive sense of hopelessness, and that he demonstrates this concept just as well as Eliot does, through the use of similar thematics – namely, the idea that humanity’s needs and desires will eventually bring about destruction in a hopeless world, and through the inclusion of hope so as to intensify this hopelessness.