Describe three key characters and how they change in the novel.
- Character 1) Gatsby: Jay Gatsby is a self-made man, in more than one way. The first way is that he literally made the name and persona ‘Gatsby” up. He was a poor working class boy with poor farming parents and he decided that he didn’t want to live like this especially after meeting Daisy. The other way is that, even though he made his persona up, he still worked really hard to get the money that he owned at the end of his life. Gatsby is made to look like some ‘great figure’ at the start of the book. He is shown as a well educated, “… he was an Oxford man.” wealthy, “… he inherited money—a legacy of twenty-five thousand dollars.”, and mysterious, “‘Somebody told me they thought he killed a man once.” ‘I don’t think it’s so much THAT,’ argued Lucille skeptically; ‘it’s more that he was a German spy during the war.’”. At the start of the story, he is portrayed as a man with money to spend and no cares in the world which is shown by his extravagant parties, “… those gleaming, dazzling parties of his were with me so vividly that I could still hear the music and the laughter faint and incessant from his garden and the cars going up and down his drive.”. But later in the story, when Nick got to know Gatsby, he realised that Gatsby was just a man in love and a man who would would do anything and everything in his power to get what he wanted… the love of his life.
= The change in Gatsby throughout the story is very gradual to start with but then happens all at once when he realises that his dream of having Daisy is not going to come true. This revelation tears him down because Daisy was the only thing he had cared for in his lonely life. It was though she was his fuel to keep going and so, when he realised that she didn’t love him, this was a signal for the end of “The Great Gatsby”.
- Character 2) Daisy: Daisy Buchanan is a vain, ditzy girl who doesn’t seem to be able to stand up for herself. She is a follower rather than a leader. What I mean by this is that when she is with Gatsby, he is all she focuses on and the same goes for when she is with Tom or Nick or Jordan. The colour associated with Daisy throughout this novel is white. This colour is normally meant to symbolise purity but in this novel, white is meant to symbolise sparseness, plainness and unawareness. Two of the main men in her life (Tom and Gatsby) treat her like a valuable possession or like a trophy to put on display rather than a human being with a mind of her own.
- Character 3) Nick: Nick Carraway is the narrator of this story. He seems to be an innocent bystander who has been dragged into the mess that is Gatsby’s illusion of life that he leads. At the beginning of this novel, he describes himself as non-judgmental and fair to everyone but by the end of the story, Nick manages to have a firm opinion about every character, he seems quick to judge new people, and he seems to fit people to stereotypes just as quick as any other person.
Explain what each character helped you to understand about illusion in the novel.Use quotes to support your ideas.
- Character 1) Gatsby= Gatsby helped me to understand the context of illusion in this text in many ways. One of these ways is that he made an illusion of himself which he then went on to live, until he realised that this persona wasn’t working just before he died. Another way that Gatsby helped me to understand illusion in this text is his illusion of the happy life that he and Daisy would live if only she would say that she never loved Tom.
- Character 2) Daisy= Daisy helped me understand the context of illusion in this text for the same reason as Gatsby’s second reason. She also helped me to understand illusion in this text in the way that she had the illusion of a happy marriage with Tom; what she didn’t know was that Tom was not happy and was having an affair with a lady called Myrtle.
- Character 3) Nick= Nick helped me to understand the context of illusion in this text in many ways. One of these ways was in the way that he described himself at the start of this text. He says that he is, “inclined to reserve all judgments…” because, “Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.”
Describe three important relationships in the text and explain what they revealed about illusion. Use quotes to support your answers.
- One relationship that has a lot to do with illusion in this text is that between Gatsby and Daisy. This relationship has lots to do with illusion in this text because it was never truly possible in more than one way. The first way is that Gatsby is just an illusion, a fake persona, that James Gatz uses which means that Daisy would be loving an illusion, a lie. The second way is that Daisy is married to Tom Buchanan and they have a child together. This means that Gatsby would always have a barrier in between himself and Daisy. The other reason that this relationship is an illusion is that Gatsby believes that he can just wish away the five years that stand between himself and Daisy, but in reality, he cannot.
- Another relationship that has a lot to do with illusion in this text is that between Daisy and Tom. This relationship is an illusion because neither of the participants are happy with the situation that they are in. Daisy starts to fall in love with Gatsby when they meet up, and Tom is having an affair with a lady called Myrtle. Even though Tom and Daisy have a daughter together, neither of them are happy with the situation that they are in, so they both look for a better place in their other relationships. This is perfectly commented on by Nick when he said, “They weren’t happy… and yet they weren’t unhappy either.” Tom and Daisy as people as well as their relationship can also be described in another way, “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…”
- One more relationship that has a lot to do with illusion in this text is that between Nick and Gatsby. This relationship has lots to do with illusion in the way that
- List the four main settings in the novel. Provide a description for each setting and explain what each setting represents.
- The first main setting of this text is East Egg. East Egg is the old-money section of Long Island in New York. This means that the people who live there were given their money by someone else; this is like inheritance money or money from a family member’s will.
- The second main setting of this novel is West Egg. West Egg is the new-money section of Long Island in New York. New-money means that the people who own it, earned it themselves. Both Nick Carraway and Gatsby live in West Egg. One quote by Nick describes West Egg perfectly, “I lived in West Egg, the – well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them.” Them is West Egg and East Egg.
- The third main setting of this novel is New York City. This setting represents a place away from home, a place to go when you want to forget your worries or disputes. This is where the main characters go for a respite of their many problems. This place presents an illusion of happiness in times of need even though it will not last. People go to New York City to hit it big, to get lucky, and this seems to be what Tom is trying to do when he realises that Daisy is falling for Gatsby. Tom brings Daisy to the city in the hope that they can settle their disputes and in the hope that Daisy will choose him over Gatsby. I guess that the city kind of represents hope for the people who go there.
- The fourth main setting of this text is the Valley of Ashes. This is the home to the poor working class citizens of New York. “This is a valley of ashes – a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of ash-grey men, who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.” This setting represents the lower classes and the saying, ‘the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer’.
- Select two of the settings from above and discuss how these settings helped you to understand the idea of illusion in the novel. Use quotes to support your ideas.
- The first setting from this text that holds the aspect of illusion the most in this book would be, for me, is Long Island and one of its twin points: West Egg. The illusion from this setting comes in a few different forms, one of these is that the people who live in the other parts of New York, like people from East Egg, or the Valley of Ashes, think that the citizens that live in West Egg have great lives whereas they don’t at all, they have lots of problems just like any other human.
- The second setting from this text that holds the aspect of illusion the most in this book would be, for me, is the city of New York; New York City. The illusion in this setting is that the main characters of this text come here numerous times for the illusion of a happy life, or for the illusion of a good relationship.
We have looked at several symbols in The Great Gatsby. Select 3 key symbols from the text and do the following for each symbol: [Provide a description (using quotes) of the symbol from the text.]
= The first symbol from this text is that of rain and it’s illusion of the connection/representation of time. Whenever a significant interaction (that has anything to do with already-past time) * This symbol is mainly focused on Daisy and Gatsby. The first time that this symbol becomes obvious in this text is when, “He stretched out his arms towards the dark water in a curious way…” (he being Gatsby). The water in this scenario represents time in the way that there is five years in between Gatsby and what he was reaching for (Daisy). Another time that this symbol was obvious in this text was at the first time Gatsby and Daisy met after their five years of being apart. In this scenario, it started to rain heavily just before they met at Nick’s house. And one more time it was obvious that water represents time in this text is when Gatsby is killed. Gatsby was swimming in his pool at the time when Myrtle’s husband shot him after being told that Gatsby was the cause of Myrtle’s death.
= The second symbol from this text is that of the Green light at the end of the dock outside of Daisy and Tom’s house. This symbol is mostly about Gatsby and his obsession about Daisy. The green light at the end of Daisy’s dock symbolises Gatsby’s hope for a life with his previously unobtainable love, Daisy. When Gatsby starts to realise that his hope might not work out, the scene changes so that a mist clouds his view of the green light. “
= The third symbol that I believe has a lot to do with illusion in this text is the title itself, ‘The Great Gatsby’. Not only is the name ‘Gatsby’ an illusion, the first part of the title (‘The Great…’) is also an illusion. This text has the words, ‘The Great…’ at the beginning of its title. The illusion part of these title words is that this character is fake, is just a persona. The Great Gatsby is just a persona, meant to get the attention of his previously unobtainable love, Daisy.
- Analyse what the symbol helps you to understand about an important character.
= The symbol of water and time shows that even though Daisy realises that time has passed between the last time she saw Gatsby and now, Gatsby doesn’t and that is why he is in water when he dies, because that symbolises the lost time, catching up with Gatsby.
= The symbol of the green light shows Gatsby’s obsessiveness and loyalty to his dream and to Daisy.
= The symbol of the title words shows just how far Gatsby was willing to go to achieve his dream of being with Daisy, and just how much of a lie his persona of ‘The Great Gatsby’ was.
We have focused our entire study around illusion and how it is presented in the text. This idea is our central theme.
- Explain what you think Fitzgerald is trying to say about society by presenting the idea of illusion so thoroughly throughout the text.
= I believe that Fitzgerald is trying to tell his readers that the idea of illusion is surrounding us in our everyday lives and that everyone, including ourselves, uses illusion on a daily basis. We act fake and this is not helped by the false illusion of a life online.
- Discuss how “illusion” is a real idea for teenagers. What problems/challenges/issues do teenagers face each day and how can we relate them to the topic of illusion.
= In the world of today, there are numerous social media sites. On these sites, there are things called filters. It seems that in today’s day and age, we care more about what other people think of us than what we ourselves think of us. These filters are used to filter the reality out of our lives and replace it with an illusion, a false happiness that comes with ‘likes’ or ‘followers’. We seem to believe that if we show a nice illusion, that other people will like us better even though this is not true. A school setting is also another setting that teenagers use illusion, to be ‘cool’, and to fit in.
Fitzgerald has a very poetic way of presenting language. He uses the same device consistently throughout his writing.
- Select two passages from the book (about a paragraph or two in length) that we have NOT annotated as a class. Annotate these passages and identify the language features that Fitzgerald uses. Explain the effect of these features and why he may have chosen to use them.
Passage Number One= “This is a valley of ashes — a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.”
‘fantastic farm‘ describes that fact that the people who live here are in an artificial version of the American Dream, they are mass producing people to work.
‘ashes grow‘ is a metaphor because ashes cannot grow, only gather and accumulate. This also hints at the type of people who live there; grey, used, burned out and desolate.
‘grotesque‘ refers to the fact that the lifestyle of the people who live here, is not great at all.
‘transcendent effort‘ refers to how hard the citizens work each day and yet to no avail. They are still in the hovel they started in.
‘dimly’ describes the people’s attitudes and will to keep going as well as the scenery surrounding them.
‘already crumbling’ describes their will to keep going as well as their surroundings.
Passage Number Two= “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning—— So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
‘the green light’ is a metaphor that represents Gatsby’s hope for a life with Daisy and is also an illusion in the way that this dream of Gatsby’s, would never/could never, come about and happen.
- Fitzgerald uses many allusions throughout the novel. Select one of these allusions and explain the connection between it and the book.
= The allusion that I have chosen from this book that has a lot to with illusion is the same as the third symbol of this book. That is the title of this text: The Great Gatsby. Not only is the name ‘Gatsby’ an illusion, the first part of the title (‘The Great…’) is also an allusion and an illusion. The allusion of the first part of this text’s title is to the other text/film, The Great and Powerful Oz. Both of these texts/films have the words, ‘The Great…’ at the beginning of their titles. The illusion part of these title words is that both of these characters are fake, are a persona. The Great and Powerful Oz was a fake magician who just uses science, machinery, smoke, and mirrors to create his so-called, “magic”. The Great Gatsby is just a persona as well, but this one is to get the attention of his previously unobtainable love, Daisy.