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The styles of the two stories are very different, as are the settings (1920?s America and 1930?s England) and yet they convey similar ideas on the sanctity of marriage and how the moving times changed the idea of having an affair within marriage from unthinkable to a commonly practised act, even something to be the subject of gossip and joking; common knowledge within the community. In the short time between two World Wars there was also a lazy, fun loving youth culture who wanted to do nothing but party, find cheap thrilling entertainment and never work. Whilst Waugh uses an omniscient authorial voice to tell the story, Fitzgerald uses a character, Nick, as a narrator- he is, however objective and so sees the actions from the point of view of an outsider and tells an unbiased account- both options allow us to reflect on what is happening from all angles and pass our own judgement, which makes it all the more interesting and draws the reader further into the scandal.
Fitzgerald shows us the America that, in the 1920?s and subsequently the aftermath of the First World War, has become obsessed with money, cars and living a leisurely life, having fun- all that supposedly seems to matter is very materialistic; it could be argued that America has declined into a state of greed, and has left behind it?s morals and spiritual beliefs. This is the side that is being portrayed in the novel. Tom is keen on his motors and athletic pursuits, and jobless mother Daisy says on page 75 ?What?ll we do with ourselves this afternoon? And the day after that, and the next thirty years??-they have nothing to fill their time with and so they seek trivial fun in parties and movies and sports. But this seemingly relaxed and perfect, happy lifestyle became the ?American Dream? that they were living, in their ?red and white Georgian colonial mansion?. Waugh also seems to portray England in the 1930?s (also between wars) as somewhat empty and lacking in purpose and fulfilment- and so they too are filled with shallow pursuits of a material items, parties and fun in the form of short lived novelties such as new, fad-diets and fortune telling. Life was lived with no real meaning and to entertain short-lived whims; marriage became less meaningful, and common practise was to have well publicised affairs. It was an act of ?fun?. Waugh shows the extra-marital relations in a much worse light than Fitzgerald as in ?The Great Gatsby?, Gatsby really loves Daisy and they are together in a happy, if unaccredited, relationship, whereas Brenda has her affair for fun, to get her out of Hetton, and to cause a social stirring. Brenda revelled in being above John Beaver and took a fancy to him purely because others thought him so unworthy- he was forbidden, rough around the edges, and also a little project of sorts, as she tells her sister Marjorie she wishes to teach him ?a whole lot of things? (page 53) by which she means how to become someone of her standard and class, as opposed to how he is currently seen socially. Women would gossip over who was having and an affair with whom, and word spread quickly- after her first scandalous appearance at Polly?s party with Beaver and without Tony, the phone rings several times, each another person hearing how Brenda had ?disgraced herself?. But she was not really a disgrace as she was by far not the only one doing it. It was so normal in fact that she thought it acceptable to allow Tony to have an affair (though this was undoubtedly due at least in part to guilt and her desire for her affair to receive less focus from Tony), and so she tries to set him up with an exotic woman called Jenny Abdul Akbar (who their son takes an instant liking to, but Tony doesn?t) - an outrageous stunt even by 21st century standards let alone in the 1930?s. She both sees the potential for there to be some fun for her and Tony away from each-other, and is falling for Beaver, so wishes for Tony to find someone to both move on with, and have his own scandalous affair to make her look hard-done-by and provide an easier escape route. In ?The Great Gatsby? Tom is,
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The Great Gatsby, English-language films, A Handful of Dust, Divorce in the United States, Brenda, Scandal, georgian colonial mansion, sanctity of marriage, mother daisy, money cars, leisurely life, character nick, athletic pursuits, authorial voice, first world war, spiritual beliefs, having an affair, waugh, common knowledge, youth culture, american dream, narrator, fulfilment, outsider, morals, unthinkable
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