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In The Great Gatsby, jazz music is played throughout the text, adding energy and life to the novel. From Gatsby’s extravagantly chaotic parties to the most introspective moments in the book, the jazz style of music seems to weave itself into the text. Like jazz has its exciting ups and mellow downs, the novel seems to follow a similar style, as exciting moments seem to be highlighted uniquely. To add to this effect, the plot structure follows the same pattern, with the majority of the plot being made of unique moments, rather than a continuous story, revealing the human need to live monumental moments, rather than in the reality of continuous life. Overall, by incorporating music into both the plot and structure of the novel, Fitzgerald ultimately claims, through the use of jazz, that humanity desires to live in positive moments of the past, leading to a nostalgic mentality.

Fitzgerald includes jazz music throughout his novel in various settings, adding excitement and highlighting important parts of the novel. As Gatsby shows Daisy his home, revealing his true nature to the woman he loves, he asks Klipspringer to play Love Nest, a popular jazz song. Fitzgerald specifically uses the lyrics:

One thing’s sure and nothing’s sure

The rich get richer and the poor get- children

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In the meantime,

In between time- ( Fitzgerald, 95.)

to reveal fundamental Jazz Age principles, while exposing Gatsby’s need to turn back time, adding intensity and drama to the plot. Incorporated uniquely, jazz also highlights the plot through its lows, removing intensity from certain points, only to magnify others. This is seen in the text when Fitzgerald opens the chapter by saying, “THERE WAS MUSIC from my neighbor’s house through the summer nights” (Fitzgerald, 39). By mentioning music in the first sentence of the chapter, he qualifies it as a background detail that shapes the setting, allowing other portions of the text to be much more powerful. Therefore, by directly incorporating jazz music into the plot of the text, Fitzgerald builds memorable settings and moments to drive forward the plot.

Throughout the novel, Fitzgerald incorporates jazz not only directly into the plot but into the entire structure of the novel. Starting from the very sentences of the book, Fitzgerald creates snapshots of events as Nick describes his night with short phrases, “Beauty and the Beast… Loneliness… Old Grocery Horse… Brook N Bridge…”(Fitzgerald, 38). As jazz music is improvised to create unique melodies within one continuous song, the sentence works in the same way, adding unrelated snapshots into one sentence. This trend continues into the paragraphs of the novel, as the separation of paragraphs signifies a completely new thought and unrelated description. This is seen when Fitzgerald ends a paragraph saying, “They were at least agonizingly aware of the easy money in the vicinity and convinced that it was theirs for a few words and the right key” (Fitzgerald, 42), suddenly stating at the beginning of the next sentence, “As soon as I arrived I attempted to find my host”(Fitzgerald, 42). Together, this emphasis on specific moments creates a novel that ignores the continuation of time, putting a greater focus on glimpses of the present. By incorporating jazz principles into the structure of the book, Fitzgerald can create a series of powerful, loosely connected moments and ideas.

Through both plot and structure, Fitzgerald places great emphasis on Jazz and its principles. He creates a unified work composed of unique glimpses of time, highlighting the importance of present moments, rather than continued history. By organizing the text in this way, Fitzgerald relates jazz to the main tension in the plot: Gatsby’s need to turn back time. Gatsby lives in the reality of continuous time, but believes and desires the escape of positive moments, such as those with Daisy, rendering him to ultimately be incapable of achieving happiness. Fitzgerald makes a greater commentary on the human condition, through Gatsby, revealing that to truly reach happiness, one must live in the present and move forward with their life, similar to jazz, which is a spontaneous form of music that never existed in the past. Therefore, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is a true jazz novel, incorporating the elements of jazz in both plot and structure to ultimately represent the greater idea of enjoying the present, rather than living in a state of nostalgia.

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