Novels can express the inner life of characters; their intimate consciousness. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a novel set in the “Roaring 20s” which discusses the apparent nonexistence of an inner life and conscious in the hypocritical people of the era; thus they have a psyche created for them by the narrator.
The characters in The Great Gatsby seem to wander about in a daze, with a degree of apathy to everything around them. George Wilson’s wife isn’t worried about her own philandering, indeed, she believes George is “so dumb he doesn’t know he is alive”. It also occurs when Jordan is out driving with Nick:
“Nick: You're a rotten driver, either you ought to be more careful or you oughtn't to drive at all.
Jordan: I am careful.
Nick: No you're not.
Jordan: Well, other people are.
Nick: What's that got to do with it
Jordan: They'll keep out of my way, it takes two to make an accident.”
Jordan does not really care about her poor driving. She still drives at dangerous speeds, and assumes that people will get out of her way. This apathy shown by Myrtle, Jordan, and all the other characters indicates that they are without an essence to their being, and are empty shells of people. But why then are characters created within our minds?
Nick reflects that his one “cardinal virtue” is that he is “one of the few honest people” he has even known. Yet we should not trust Nick’s narrative, as his inner life colours the story, and we are told of what he wants to tell. Apathy is Nick’s perception of the twenties, where people “drift coolly out of nowhere and buy a palace on Long Island Sound”. So, one by one, our impressions of the character’s inner lives are created within our own minds. Yet these impressions are incorrect, as the truth has been distorted by Nick’s narrative Nick has created their psyches.
Nick wants his readers to believe that he has a conscience that is great enough to pass judgment on an amoral world, and says (rather...