Stylistic Analysis of The Great Gatsby from Lexical and Grammatical Category

Xiangqi Liu
2010 Journal of Language Teaching and Research  
The thesis tries to adopt the method used by Leech and Short in their book Style in Fiction to make a relatively overall and objective analysis of the novel's language from lexical and grammatical Category. As far as the lexical features are concerned, the author employs special lexical items and lexical clusters. The lexical deviation and word connotations are mainly used for characterization and theme revelation. In terms of the syntactical aspects, narrative sentence type and the contrast of
more » ... registers are employed, and the author's sentence endings with elaborate appositions and prepositional phrases provide an effective way to describe the surroundings and evoke moods, serving to generate suspense as well as to create interest and expectation on the part of the reader. Index Terms-lexical category, adjective, lexical cluster, grammatical category, sentence structure, appositional phrase, prepositional phrase Stylistic analysis is an attempt to find the artistic principles underlying a writer's choice of language. However, as all texts have their individual qualities, the linguistic features which recommend themselves to the attention in one text will not necessarily be important in another text by the same or a different author. Therefore, Leech and Short (2000: 74-82) propose a useful checklist of linguistic and stylistic categories which are placed under four general headings: lexical categories, grammatical categories, figures of speech, and cohesion and context, each containing several subcategories, and inevitably with some overlapping. Lexical categories are used to find out how choice of words involves various types of meaning. They may contain a general description of vocabulary choice, and examinations of nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, etc. Grammatical categories, on the other hand, probe into such branches as sentence types, sentence complexity, clause types, clause structure, noun or verb phrases, word classes, and so on and so forth. This chapter is devoted to a general analysis of the stylistic features in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby from the lexical and grammatical category. I. LEXICAL CATEGORY A. Adjectives One of the simplest yet most profound reasons The Great Gatsby is considered as an American classic is its use of language. Fitzgerald's language is figurative, which is full of images --concrete verbal pictures appealing to the senses, by the employment of adjectives. Fitzgerald frequently uses adjectives to create romantic sensation and visualize the scene and hence heightens the theme. Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth --but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered "Listen", a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour. (p. 13) This sentence is densely sparked with adjectives. It is interesting that Fitzgerald often links adjectives that seem contradictory, e.g. sad and lovely. But this technique visualizes the character Daisy, and the repetition of the next adjective "bright" seems to imply that Daisy is bright. However, the word "sad" denies this by its meaning; thus the description gives us a suspicious impression. With Fitzgerald's employment of adjectives and participles used as attributives, Daisy's voice is sensate and hence, paves the way for Gatsby's comment: "Her voice is full of money." The extensive use of adjectives in sentences like the above ones helps to convey the author's interpretation of the scene and is typical of Fitzgerald's use of subjective description. Here is another example: But his heart was in a constant, turbulent riot. The most grotesque and fantastic conceits haunted him in his bed at night. A universe of ineffable gaudiness spun itself out in his brain while the clock ticked on the wash-stand and the moon soaked wet light his tangled clothes upon the floor. Each night he added to the pattern of his fancies until drowsiness closed down upon some vivid scene with an oblivious embrace. (p. 132) There are altogether nine adjectives (constant, turbulent, grotesque, fantastic, ineffable, tangled, each, vivid, and oblivious) in the passage, more than 10% of the total number. These adjectives are all attributives and have nothing to do with physical attributes. The "constant, turbulent riot" is the background of his dream and the adjectives "grotesque, fantastic" modifying "conceits" drop a hint that the dream is inaccessible. A description such as "the moon soaked with wet light his tangled clothes" helps the reader to visualize the scene in the manner Fitzgerald intends. The adjective JOURNAL OF LANGUAGE TEACHING AND RESEARCH
doi:10.4304/jltr.1.5.662-667 fatcat:jxejplm4svgf7fyllo6c3yjkaa