After reading the explanation of Postcolonial theory in Lois Tyson’s Critical Theory Today, and then reading its application to Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, one wonders, why on earth would The Great Gatsby be a fitting example of postcolonial theory. Seeing as though Tyson’s text uses Gatsby throughout for the application of lenses, this analysis becomes slightly more fitting, but it would seem that there are many other texts, where the Postcolonial analysis would not be nearly as convoluted. My reaction to the analysis can easily be broken down into two distinct categories: thoroughly agreeing, and utter confusion.
Let us start with the agreed upon parts. Sadly, there were not many parts, but it is critical to say, I believe Tyson has a strong point here, and she should have furthered the point by elaborating on it, as opposed to pushing it aside. This point, being mimicry throughout Gatsby caught my eye. Earlier in the chapter on Postcolonial criticism, the term mimicry was defined as, “Colonialized people mimicking that of the colonizers.” While this may not seem to line up immediately with The Great Gatsby, Tyson eventually sold the point. She points out how, “…Gatsby fabricated an upper class family and invented a past that includes an Oxford education, big-game hunting; living ‘like a young rajah in all the capitals of Europe’…” This is simply undeniable. Jay Gatsby changed who he perceived himself as, to fit into a group which he most identified with. While I may or may not believe that this should be constituted as post colonialism, I do believe that this fits with the term mimicry brilliantly.
A root of many of my misunderstandings may be that the name, post colonialism seems to be misleading to me. This could be accredited to the example application being Gatsby, but it would seem to me, that instead, Postcolonialism should be known as classism, or even as “colonialist psychology,” a term which Tyson mentions in passing. Colonialsm simply has too many connotations, and conjures up images, which do not jibe with the point that is trying to be proven by Tyson. Tyson shows this very point when she mentions, “There are many more examples of Tom’s unnecessary and open hostility toward his social inferiors, but the point is that he wouldn’t need to display his social superiority so aggressively if he were secure in it.” or when he says, “If you’re not on top, you’re nobody.” What this should say, is that as opposed to having Post colonialism, which is described as an amalgamation of theories, there she be numerous, clean cut ones. It would seem to me from that description that Tom suffers from serious insecurity and fear of betrayal even, (psychoanalytical) and is a classist slob, (my own scholarly jargon). With all due respect Lois, you are over thinking this.
At this point in time, I do not feel that I have a thorough enough grasp on the actual use of Postcolonial theory to judge the lens itself, but I do feel comfortable speaking on my opinion about Tyson’s application, to The Great Gatsby. All in all, the lens felt like it would be far better off analyzing something else. I do appreciate that Tyson mentioned the less than optimal nature of the analysis, but instead of trying to cobble a writing together, I would have preferred to see Tyson scrap The Great Gatsby and instead examine an applicable text.
Do you think The Great Gatsby should be examined through Postcolonial criticism? Why or why not? Do you think Post colonialism is a misleading name for the lens? Do you think another lens could take the place of Post colonialism? How do Psychoanalytical and Post colonialism overlap? How do other lenses overlap with Post colonialism.