The Great Gatsby: Double Vision
F. Scott Fitzgerald once stated that the test of a first rate intelligence was the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. This intelligence he describes is characterized by the principle of “double vision.” An understanding of this is essential to the understanding of many of Fitzgerald’s novels. “Double vision” denotes two ways of seeing. It suggests the tension involved when Fitzgerald sets two things in opposition such that the reader can, on one hand, sensually experience the event about which Fitzgerald is writing, The foundation of double vision is polarity, the setting of extremes against one another, which is the result of dramatic tension.
The success of the novel depended on Fitzgerald’s ability to transfer the vision he had himself to the reader. This idea dealt with the ability to believe in the possibilities of several opposite ideas at different levels of abstraction. Fitzgerald’s wish was for the reader to believe that Gatsby would and would not win Daisy. He must believe that anyone in America, through hard work and perseverance, can and cannot gain access to the best that America has to offer. Until Daisy finally rejects Gatsby is the reader is able to believe in both alternates because he has seen them both from the perspective of Gatsby (who believes) and Nick (who wants to believe but intellectually can’t).
The scene in which this idea of double vision is readily apparent, is the reunion between Gatsby and Daisy after a five-year separation. Gatsby has spent most of the years in an aggressive for wealth, which he ultimately believes will win Daisy over. On the other hand, Daisy seems to have given little thought to Gatsby, which is witnessed by her marriage to Tom. The reunion has different effects on both parties involved: it means everything to Gatsby, but very little to Daisy, other than a diversion from the...