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The Great Gatsby is almost completely dominated by the themes of time and memory and the inescapabable nature of the two. Intertwined in this is the sub-theme of discovery and re-discovery. Throughout the novel the inescapabable nature of the past is brought together with the way man discovers fresh ground and also rediscovers it with the new perspectives of experience…
S. Eliot in his Four Quartets. In Burnt Norton, he says
This very vividly brings out time as an amorphous mass with no real future or past. It all seems to exist in one place and seems to suggest that it is also memory he is talking about, for where else in real life does all time exist in one place except in the human mind
These lines from Little Gidding, bring a new dimension to the concept of circularity of time. It says quite clearly that one can only truly understand when one has come full circle. This dimension is not evident in The Great Gatsby. In the novel though past and present are irrevocably entangled, there is a quality that makes one think we are trying to escape from the past but cannot, especially in the last lines. However, Eliot seems to consider the pull of past on us as something that helps us to understand ourselves and the future more completely. The idea that the past and future are inseparable is brought out clearly in Nick's comparison of the Dutch sailors and Gatsby's vision of a new life. Here too, the idea of rediscovering oneself re asserts itself.
The experience of the Dutch sailors on landing on the Long Island beach for the first time clearly seems to be one of wonder and is filled with a sense of incredible adventure. ...
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