An essay- moderately long

Paraphrase of the question: "Every narrator has some bias to his words. Discuss reader position in The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald."
There is no such thing as an impartial narrator. This is especially true of "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzerald, of which the narrator is a middle-aged man named Nick Carraway, who is insinuating and subtle in his use of words.
From the very first few pages of the book, Nick spends a great deal of time making it known to the read that he is always impartial and reserves judgement. This is, of course, a lie. Nick was the product of F. S. Fitzgerald, and because the novel was written by a human being – that is to say, Fitzgerald sat down and chose words to express his intent (much like I am doing now), certain words were used to evoke certain reactions.
Fundamentally, truth is a perception. Because Nick was designed (if you will) to be human, his own choice of words when retelling the tale he called "The Great Gatsby", he was biased even to start. "Great" is a matter of opinion, and so from the moment you even read the title of the novel, you (as a reader) are being positioned and manipulated to see the world through Nick’s eyes.
Nick Carraway is a character actively involved with the events of the story, as well as being the narrator of it. If truth is really a perception based on past experience, then Nick’s experience as a first-person narrator are already positioned to see the world in a certain way. That said, everything you (as a reader) subsequently read was told by a narrator who wants you to see his side of things. Because all narrators were born of human invention, it is safe to say that every story, novel or text ever written will be biased in some form or another. When an author writes a story and tells it using the narrator as the medium, that author must choose the words in which the narrator will tell the story through. Quite simply, regardless of what the narrator might claim (such as being impartial and never letting involvement effect judgement), it is ultimately the author putting words into his or her mouth, so to speak.
A reader’s own interpretation of a story relies most heavily on his (or her) own context. As aforementioned, truth is your own view on a matter based on oyur past experiences (or in other words, context) that shape your current weltenshaung (or view of the world). This means that how you interpret a story- "The Great Gatsbye" for example- is up to how you choose to see it. The narrator of a story will present to you a tale of events in one light, but it is then the choice of the reader to accept the view he (or she) has been given, or to seek alternative ways of interpretation. A story is only a representation of the world; that is to say, someone’s perception of how things might be. The nature of alternative or oppositional readings is to find different interpretations of the story, whether on a tangeant or directly opposing the perception the narrator just fed us.
No story that was ever written by a human hand, or ever invented by a human mind, is free of bias. "The Great Gatsby" is no exception to this, despite the proof Nick tried to claim. Christening a stranger "Owl Eyes" is hardlesunbiased, or describing someone as beautiful (for is it not "true" that all things are beautiful if only you find the beauty in them?). Every word Nick wrote came from the inevitably biased hand of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and so no reader is free from some degree of manipulation, unless the narrator shares precisely the same views as the reader.
This was written in the final hour of a 190 minute exam. I was understandably tired, and sick of writing and thinking. I got just a little laidback in my style and practically engaged in conversation with Mr Watson, who marked it. Don’t start me on where I went wrong. Instead, I’ll just give you the mark.
9/25, or 36%.
John, be warned. Lit essays are not opportunities for you to [opine?] and pilodophise. You are called upon to develop an argument based on the text which interrogates the concepts and directives of the question. This account is extremely limited in these areas.
Average of 48% over the three essays I wrote for my literature exam. I was hoping to get at least 70%, for I let myself believe I did reasonably well. Alas, presumptious old me was given his comeuppance for arrogance and philosphy. I’ll do better at the poetry unit. At least, I’m presuming I will. I must redeem myself. *sigh*

3 thoughts on “An essay- moderately long

  1. [Whisper]...who's that girl? says:

    your still brillant !, good luck on the poem unit, im sure you’ll do great!
    *hugs* sash

  2. Liam, Baron of Hoskuldstadir says:

    I understand that you’re probably very upset. It’s devastating to be given a mark like that, and its a cruel reward for something that you felt that you did fairly well on.
    Let’s remember that the class collectively performed very poorly in this exam. A number of prominent Lit students were faced with marks that not only disappointed them, but levelled them. The worst part was that Mr Watson was unyielding- he refused to say that the exam was marked harshly, and he repeated to me that it was the performance, not the strictness of marking, that resulted in such a low class average across the board. It was not just you that did poorly- it was the entire class, and for that reason, don’t start thinking that it is exclusively a major fault of your own.
    This is not a typical mark for you, John, and it will never ever be. Remember that you are a person of powerful and evocative English skills, and of dynamic, groundbreaking ideas that are rarely seen in Australian society. As you have taught me, Mr. Watson is a strategically intelligent teacher who knows exactly what will make students like us pull our heads out of the ground. Nothing could have made me freak out like a disgustingly low mark on an essay on Hamlet- in the same way, he wants to make it known to YOU that he knows you have majestic potential in the subject. This mark does not mean that you are a bad literature student.

  3. Ivy says:

    I agree with both Liam B and Mr Watson.
    I think that this essay was beautifully written and does explain your point very clearly, thanks to your relevant examples and the high language skills you’ve used to drive home the point. In fact, I think it is very beautiful English you have used in this essay, and the language is superb.
    Saying that however, I felt that Mr Watson did not give you an unreasonable mark, although, it could have been above 10 if more leniency were administered. It was a mark my literature teacher would give me too if I submitted this essay, because your point was clearly not addressing the question. There is little reference to the text, instead, the examples you gave relate to life in general, and that is not what the essentials of literature is about. I say essentials because ultimately, you can argue that Literature reflects society through text. But in an exam, with a set and specific text, you MUST refer to the text and what F. Scott is trying to say, and identify the bias in his views and cite quotes and examples. This is a good philosophy essay, but not the way to tackle Literature. This is not a Literature essay.
    I have no doubt you have the ability to write well, your command is language is strong evidence. However, it is common for writers to lose the focus question in mind, but that does not mean you are any less a critical literature student, and one paper does not reflect fully what you know about a text. So long as you know you know and had analysed, interpretted the text well, it is what really matters.
    Literature, afterall, is very subjective. Literature essays are no exception. It all boils to perception, as you said! So now ask yourself: Do you feel that you have a thorough understanding of the text now? Is it just a folly that led to your low mark, not your lack of literature skills (analysis, open acception of different viewpoints, etc.)?
    If the answer is yes, give yourself a pat on the back. Remember, education’s about learning, not marks!
    Meanwhile, I’d like to add I have no idea how anyone can enjoy The Great Gatsby. I had to PLOW through the first chapter, and it wasn’t even successful. I ended up reading the summary at the back instead. I would have just wrote.
    "I am too biased to discuss this question primarily because I think the book sucks." 

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