“Life past plays a huge role in the

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards” With reference to wider reading, compare how your two texts presents the significance of the past  The past plays a huge role in the books ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘The Glass Menagerie’. As it is clear in both books that the main characters seem to be under the deluded belief that the only way to progress in the present and into the future is by reliving the past. However, the result of their wishful thinking had led to the tragedies that befell both protagonist and the end of the book. Thus, it is clear from both books the authors were trying to communicate to their readers about the dangers of living in the past.

  The first way in which the past plays a significant role in ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘The Glass Menagerie’ is by the inability of the main protagonist in the books to let go of their past. In ‘The Great Gatsby’, Gatsby had become so attached with his past with Daisy that he had dedicated is whole life to try and get her back. However, although he wanted his past back with Daisy, Gatsby was overly prepared to let go of his former self where he had been the poor seventeen-year-old Jam recognising that to win Daisy back, he had to become a ‘great man’ wealthy enough to marry her. Gatsby’s determination for achieving the American dream (the notion that anyone could succeed through hard work and determination but was later replaced with the dream of money during the 20’s ) was driven by his past with Daisy whom some argue was Gatsby’s American dream however, it can be argued that Daisy was Gatsby’s American dream. Also, Gatsby’s character is a direct representative of what the American dream was in 1920’s America as he had gotten to where he was through hard work and determination, however, through his involvement with Wolfsheim who was a gambler, the way in which Gatsby had made his money could be considered to be illegal as his involvement with Wolfsheim puts in an underworld of illegal bootlegging ang gangster violence. Gatsby’s inability to let go of his past was spotted by other characters in the book for example, Nick noted that Gatsby ‘talked a lot about the past’ and Nick believed that he wanted to recover something, ‘some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy’.

This suggests that instead of moving forward in life, Gatsby would rather live in the comfort of the past where he had been with Daisy. However, it could suggest that it is not necessarily Daisy he’s after but who he was when he had been with Daisy as Nick suggest that he wanted to recover his old self that had gone into loving Daisy, perhaps Gatsby is more in touch with his former self than who is now despite his desperate attempt to let go of his past as James Gatz. Fitzgerald had made effect use of objects throughout the novel to symbolise the theme of past and present.

For example, ‘the green light at the end of the dock’ is symbolic of the past. Gatsby had believed that the green light represented the past and just like the green light is obtainable and close, the past was also obtainable and close. However, Nick and the readers know that this isn’t so as the green light is representative of the ‘orgiastic future’ that Gatsby longed for however could never achieve because we are all like ‘boats against current’ constantly pulled back ‘into the past’  Amanda’s longing and refusal to let go of the past is a mirror image of Gatsby’s refusal to let go of the past, however, unlike Gatsby, Amanda longs for all aspect of her past refusing to overlook any. 

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