“Writers and poets explore the true value of relationships in their work”. To what extent do you agree with this? The ‘true value’ of a relationship can be interpreted in various ways, the idea of a positive romantic love and trust are aspects associated directly with this notion. Yet in some ways the true value of a relationship can be more in line with realism and imperfections, which both F. Scott Fitzgerald and Carol Ann Duffy explore. In ‘The Great Gatsby’ F. Scott Fitzgerald presents an illustration of the American dream and with this theme the idea of materialism is engaged.
This materialistic focus is reflected in the presentation of relationships amongst the central protagonists in the novel and can be seen as an exploration of the true value of relationships. Carol Ann Duffy however, uses her collection of poems ‘Rapture’ to chart the journey of a relationship or relationships. She employs a variety of techniques in order to provide a presentation of her perception of the true value of relationships, specifically focusing on the aspect of time and comparisons with natural elements.
Both authors present an illustration of romantic love and loyalty which can be interpreted as evidence of the exploration of the true value of relationships in their work. Fitzgerald provides the reader with snapshots of time where the idea of romanticised love within a complicated situation is enforced. Gatsby and Daisy are said to have “stared at each other, alone in space”. Yet they are clearly surrounded by a group of people, one of which is Daisy’s husband.
The specific lexical choice of ‘space’ connotes the idea of being isolated in a vast area, this links to the idea of lovers having eyes for only each other, which stands as a particularly romantic image, especially since we get the idea that nobody else really matters. The relationship between Gatsby and Nick can also be seen as an exploration of the true value of relationships at a slightly different angle. Nick loyalty to Gatsby shown all the way through the novel, even past the death of Gatsby is summed up in Nick’s assertion of Gatsby being “worth the whole bunch put together”.
This is effectively highlighted as the true value of a relationship as Nick stands as the only character who sees Gatsby not for the glamorous and superficial lifestyle he tries to adopt, but rather as the man who went to any means to acquire the wealth necessary to win the heart of the woman he truly loves. Duffy, however provides countless illustrations of romantic love within relationships, examples being; “I see your soul in your eyes”, “for thousands of seconds we kissed”, ”we swooned”, “look for your small xx”. These all are slightly hyperbolic, yet romance is general is usually this way.
We are provided with the indication that true value of relationships are shown through the feelings and actions associated with love. Although as a poem there are no characters, Duffy uses this to extend the feelings to reflect love and relationships in general rather than the individuals involved. The true value of relationships are explored by Fitzgerald and Duffy in similar yet opposing ways, through the idea of worth. Fitzgerald focuses on the idea of materialism and wealth within a relationship whilst Carol Ann Duffy associates the value of relationships with aspects of the natural world.
In ‘The Great Gatsby’ relationships seem to be based on wealth, excess wealth being the pinnacle of the American dream. Gatsby and Daisy’s relationship purely materialistic, Gatsby acquires all his wealth and throws these lavish parties simply to gain the attention of Daisy. This is expressed by Gatsby himself when he cries “she only married you because I was poor and she was tired of waiting for me”, the change in tense here is important because it explicitly illustrates the change in time and the change in Gatsby’s situation, now that he is rich Daisy falls for him.
Yet in the long run this does not benefit Gatsby as Daisy is attracted to old money, not the newly acquired wealth that Gatsby has obtained. Tom and Myrtle engage in a symbiotic relationship also based on superficiality and wealth, as Tom uses Myrtle for sex whilst Myrtle uses Tom for his money. This highlights Fitzgerald’s exploration of the true value of a relationship because we see how much true love is overlooked by wealth and materialism, thus altering what the true value of relationships actually are.
On the other hand, Carol Ann Duffy’s links to the semantic field of natural wealth is an exploration of the true value of relationships. In ‘Treasure’ Duffy speaks through the persona who uses nature’s wealth to describe a lover’s physical attributes. The descriptions include; “the gold weight of your head”, “your hearts warm ruby”, “turquoise veins” and “sighted amber, the 1001 nights of your eyes”. These portrayals provide connotations of something precious, something to be treasured and this could stand as the idea behind Duffy’s interpretation of the true value of relationships alongside many of the reads of the poem.
Lastly both writer and poet illustrate an idealised love alongside close links to time as a means to explore the true value of relationships in their work. The plot of ‘The Great Gatsby’ places a focus on an idealised love, as the central protagonist Gatsby literally spends the entirety of his life planning and obsessing over means to create the perfect life for Daisy to join him in disregarding the fact that they have spent 5 years apart and she is now married with a child.
The idea of illusion and reality is heavily embossed throughout the novel, this is shown through Gatsby’s behaviour following his encounter with Daisy again. Nick observes and states that “there must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams- not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion”. This basically expresses the extent to which Gatsby held onto and embellished the memory of Daisy even “decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way”.
A lack of realism is shown here as Daisy can no longer live up to the mental apparition Gatsby had, this also links directly to the way in which Angel sees Tess, raising her higher and higher in his impression of her yet being stubbornly unaware from the reality of the situation. This provides an indication that Gatsby is more in love with the memory of Daisy rather than Daisy herself. Similarly this idea is also expressed, by Duffy, to an extent in ‘Grief’, when the persona states “though my eyes stare inward now at where you were, my star, my star”.
In this instance the poem provides us with the idea of looking at the present relationship as a memory of good times rather than facing the dim reality of the present situation. This is made evident through the fact that the persona’s eyes “stare inwards”, indicating that she sees only what she wishes to see, also the use of past tense “you were, my star” highlights the passing of time and the way in which people and relationships in general change over time, which is why this persona goes from being a “star” to the bringer of “grief”, which provides an idea that the true value of relationships may lie in the memories of the past.
In conclusion I strongly agree with the idea that “writers and poets explore the true value of relationships in their work” this is because the ‘true value’ of relationships does not have an exact or tangible definition, thus indicating that because both writers and poets explore the varied interpretations of relationships, each would be of true value to an extent to the individuals or persona’s judgement.