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F. Scott Fitzgerald begins his novel The Great Gatsby with the voice of the omnipotent narrator, Nick. This narrator begins by divulging into an account of his personal history, contained within this opening account are clear elements of ambiguity. It is expressed to the reader that Nick “realised by some unmistakeable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon”; this could be interpreted by some as revealing however it lacks sufficient meaning due to its inconclusiveness. Therefore this intriguing revelation evidently creates a sense of mystery that consequently appears to convey a feeling of excitement.

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However some readers may argue that the mysterious elements overshadow excitement and the beginning instead focuses on setting up Nick as a narrator. There is evidence that supports this point of view as the majority of the story telling obviously emerges from Nick as he has been created as the narrator. With his self portrayal seemingly demonstrating the contradictions in his character, he claims that Gatsby “represented everything for which I have unaffected scorn” but goes on to say that “there was something gorgeous about him”.

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Thus he is established into the novel as an unreliable narrator with the mysterious elements surely crucial to this important characterisation. Arguably the most prominent proclamation delivered, in the beginning of the novel, by Nick, is that “Gatsby turned out alright in the end” this information would surely capture the interest of the reader. Consequently leading them to read further and discover Gatsby for themselves as well as the “intimate revelation” that is disclosed but not explored beyond mention.

This apparent element of mystery contained within this proclamation, and the others that feature in the beginning pages, engage the reader on a profound level, successfully leading them into feeling an urge to discover the significance and meaning of the opening statements. Fitzgerald seems to create and develop a sense of mystery with the intention of intriguing the reader so that they are compelled to read on, it can therefore be argued that this writer has made mystery the dominate factor of the beginning of his novel, instead of writing with the aim to excite.

However, it is possible that some readers may disagree that mystery is an outstanding part of the beginning of this novel and they may also disagree with the idea that the proclamation, “Gatsby turned out alright in the end” is prominent. Some readers may argue against the view that mystery overshadows excitement; it is possible that they may have experienced excitement when reading the opening of The Great Gatsby, causing them to pursue the novel, and so it would seem to them that the writer had written the opening in an exciting way.

Fitzgerald clearly aims to make the beginning of his novel enticing and it is evident that he achieves this through a variety of mystery and excitement, even though it could be debated by readers that there is a strong sense of one component more than the other. It is undeniable that excitement does form part of the beginning of The Great Gatsby, despite mystery also being a strong element, and it is suggested that the writer has purposefully constructed the beginning in this way so that the reader delves further into the novel.

Similarly it can be debated whether Khaled Hosseini aimed to make the beginning of his novel, The Kite Runner, exciting. This is because the opening chapter includes elements of mystery, which are also present in The Great Gatsby, that consequently deviate from any possible excitement as this mystery suggests an underlying seriousness. The use of declaratives appear to set this serious tone with reflective statements adding to the feel, as he metaphorically looks back on his “past of unatoned sins” by “peeking into that deserted alley”.

Amir’s reflection on his past is presented through lexis choices, such as “crouching” and “frozen”, which have negative connotations of dreariness. Thus, it would appear that excitement is not generated during the opening of The Kite Runner. However the opening of the novel begins in “December 2001” with the following chapters telling the story of Amir’s childhood (through his own voice) developing until the novel eventually reaches this point in time again.

Excitement could be created through this definitive sequencing as the reader is undoubtedly left on the edge, with the closing lines of chapter one, “I thought of the life I had lived until the winter of 1975 came along and changed everything. And made me what I am today”. The cliff-hanger that the reader is left with would surely ignite their inquisitive nature and does consequently seem to create an element of excitement. Robert Browning uses similar techniques, to Hosseini and Fitzgerald, in his poetry.

The first six lines of Fra Lippo Lippi appear to have been created as dramatically enticing, similar to the opening of The Kite Runner where Hosseini appears to spark the reader’s curious passion through his stylistic and structural effects. In this dramatic monologue a sense of excitement is surely built as “poor brother Lippo” has been caught in a compromising situation, despite being a monk he is “at an alley’s end” where “sportive ladies leave their doors ajar”.

This would undoubtedly surprise any reader who would surely have a preconceived idea of monks as devout Christians who follow a strict lifestyle in accordance to a set of solemn vows. Therefore a significant amount of excitement is surely created as the opening appears to generate a buss which will surely excite any reader and give them a desire to know how events will unravel as the monologue continues. However the way that Browning tries to evoke pity by introducing Lippo as a monk could suggest that he has written the opening with the aim of creating pity.

Although it is evident that some readers will interpret the opening in an exciting way as the sense of mystery does contribute to an atmosphere of excitement. On the whole the writers of the three texts that I have studied do seem to create the beginnings of their novel or poem in an exciting way, through their language choices and structural elements of building up an emotive feel. It would seem that each text can be interpreted as exciting however it is without doubt down to the way individual readers interpret them.

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Kylie Garcia

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