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Great Gatsby Setting

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  • November 2013
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How does Fitzgerald use setting in Chapter 1 and 2 of The Great Gatsby?

Fitzgerald uses setting throughout The Great Gatsby as a technique for suggesting the differences between the working and upper classes. During both Chapter One and Two of the novel Fitzgerald’s descriptions of the differing settings are extremely useful in developing the story and individual characters further.

The first setting that Nick describes to us is the house of Gatsby himself. The house is described as a ‘colossal affair’. This is the primary description of a character’s house throughout the novel, meaning that there is a greater impact of the house’s size and perhaps greatness in comparison to other residences. Also, the word ‘colossal’ when used as a description of this particular house seems to create an air of it seeming too large and therefore causes the reader to judge Gatsby by his assumed excessiveness prior to meeting him. The front of the Buchanan’s house is a ‘reflected gold’, this not only suggests general wealth but also the use of ‘reflected’ suggests that the wealthy connotations that gold has is reflecting onto the inhabitants of the house. However, Gatsby’s house is hidden under a ‘thin beard of raw ivy’. With Gatsby’s house being somewhat hidden away, Fitzgerald causes the reader to believe that Gatsby uses his house as a disguise to mislead others into believing he has class. Gatsby’s mansion is also a ‘factual imitation of some Hôtel de Ville in Normandy’. The oxymoron ‘factual imitation’ has an intentional rhetorical effect that seems to emphasise the fact the house is not original or old. It is suggested to the reader through this ‘factual imitation’ that Gatsby created the house to try and copy the history behind the ‘Hôtel de Ville’ in Normandy. In contrast to Gatsby’s ‘factual imitation’ the Buchanan’s residence is a ‘Georgian Colonial mansion’. This time period in American history is about as old and full of history as a house could have been....

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