Literary Genre in The Great Gatsby, All My Sons and I'm Not Scared for Leaving Cert Comparative #625Lab

"Authors can use various techniques to make settings real and engaging." 


The author took on the challenging literary genre question - and did so quite well! 

I have studied the novel 'The Great Gatsby' by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the play 'All my Sons' written by Arthur Miller, and the film 'I'm Not Scared' directed by Gabriele Salvatores. From studying these texts, it is obvious that the authors employ many literary and camera techniques to make their works real and engaging.

Literary Genre in The Great Gatsby, All My Sons and I'm Not Scared for Leaving Cert Comparative
Darkness contrasts with the boy's colourful shirt exposing the tragic childhood he has to contend with. The way he is highlighted by the light lets us know that he is the beacon of hope in this story. The camera looking from below emphasises the power imbalance between the characters.

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The tool of narration is very powerful in making a story come to life and it is one that is used well in all three texts. 'The Great Gatsby' has the first-person narrator, Nick Carraway. He is an observer of the world but also a participant in it. We see everything as filtered through his account, and so this gives rise to the question of whether we can trust him or not. The use of a first-person narrative is effective in making the story comprehendible, realistic and engaging. In contrast, as a realist play, 'All my Sons' relies almost entirely on dialogue for both plot and characterisation. In addition to dialogue, stage directions are vital, they control the pacing; "he pauses", "Ann waiting ready"; they indicate the character's emotions and they can be used to rise above the limitations of everyday speech and reveal significance in the characters' actions. (Be careful here - I wasn't able to verify the quotes. In my edition it is "Ann is waiting, ready", for example.) However, in 'I'm not Scared' the camera acts as the narrator. In many of the shots the camera is lowered to the eye level of a child, so that, as the children run through the wheat fields, the audience gets a powerful sense of how they experience the world. This makes the film much more engaging and realistic as the audience feels as if they are there themselves. 

From set design to cinematic writing, the setting has many ways of being shown in an engaging and realistic manner. In 'All my sons' the set design is simplistic simple yet very realistic as all that is needed is a back yard of a house and a porch. It is a very common sight for people, so it helps in making the play more effective and in getting the message across. In 'I'm not scared' the camera is the narrator but also captures the rolling fields, flowers and colours to make the film come to life. The camera pans across the wheat fields and then abruptly cuts to the facial expressions of the characters, typing them all in together. The use of contrast between light and dark, and high and low helps to show the different types of people and situations in the film. Nick, as a narrator in 'The Great Gatsby', proves very effective as he recalls things in great detail. F. Scott Fitzgerald's writing is so artistic and descriptive you can picture it as if it was a film playing in front of you. This, along with the drama that plays out throughout the novel really engages the audience as it feeds their imagination while also piquing their curiosity to find out the end result of all the characters in what is a very real and commonplace situation of a woman stuck between two men, unable or unwilling to choose. (56 words - I would split this last sentence. The author advertised this paragraph as being about the setting, but ended up talking a lot about the tools of narration. There is no way to avoid a slight overlap, but I would be more focused on the setting here.)

Characterisation in 'The Great Gatsby' is very effective and accurate in portraying the stereotypical people of 1920's America. Tom and Daisy Buchanan are prime examples of this. Sanctimonious and morally corrupt as he may be, Tom represents the typical egotistical male figure of that time (do you think that Tom is sanctimonious? Sanctimonious is more about being a goody two shoes than plain arrogant). He established dominance over everyone he meets, especially Daisy. Daisy is a typical flapper girl. She craves only attention and status and constantly seeks the approval of others. (While that's mostly true, I think it describes Gatsby better than it describes Daisy. Daisy actually cared about money for its own sake, as I see it.) Tom and Daisy's relationship could be easily compared to that of Kate and Joe in 'All my sons'. Both appear like the men are in charge, but the women really hold all the power. (Very interesting, but needs to be elaborated on or it won't get many marks.) In contrast, Anna and Pino's relationship is the opposite. (In contrast and the opposite serve the same purpose, so the author should only use one.) Anna has no control over anything and no authority. Whether in her family or in her village, men hold all the power. Characters and relationships such as these are essential in engaging an audience with a text. The drama as well as just the moments that are commonplace add to the audience's sense of intrigue. People want to know what happens next because they can imagine situations such as these occurring in their own lives. (An example?) Interesting and complex characters are what draw an audience into a text and are also what keeps them there. The world is realistic and believable to them as it is backed up with suitable characters. 

Another technique used frequently by authors and directors is that of symbolism and metaphors. In 'The Great Gatsby', the green light is a symbol of hope for Gatsby. Also, in 'I'm not scared' the dead bird hanging from the stake is a symbol used to hint at the ominous times to come. Just as in 'The Great Gatsby', in 'All my sons' Larry's tree was a symbol of hope for Kate and her family, it falling down may have foreshadowed the collapse of their family due to deception and lies. Symbols like these help to connect an audience, to give them a preview of what lies ahead in the story without actually giving anything away. They engage the audience and help boost the realism of the world of the text. 

In conclusion, it is true to say that "authors can use various techniques to make settings real and engaging". They do use them, as without them people would be stuck with mundane, lifeless books or films and would lose interest quickly. Techniques such as narration, characterisation, symbolism and contrast are what build the story and keep people engaged and interested in their more realistic settings.

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