Physical and Symbolic Values of the Setting in The Great Gatsby

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This extract establishes both the physical and symbolic values of the setting in the Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It also provides us with the traits of the characters in the novel in relation to the thematic focus. The setting is also symbolic of Fritzgerald's satire of 1920s New York lifestyle , particularly emphasizing on the American dream , social class and money. Prior to the extract, Nick begins by commenting on himself, stating his qualities; tolerance and tendency to reserve judgments as one of them. In the summer of 1922, Nick Carraway has just arrived in New York and is living in a part of Long Island known as West Egg. Fitzgerald establishes Nick Carraway as an impartial narrator but not a passive one. From the novel's opening paragraph onward, this will continue create an internal conflict for Nick himself. Because despite the fact that Gatsby represents all that Nick despises, Nick cannot help but admire him.

Geographically, the differences of the upper classes are symbolized by two residential areas of Long Island, New York "Twenty miles from the city a pair of enormous eggs, identical in contour and separated by a courtesy bay, jut out into . . . Long Island Sound. . . an arresting phenomenon is their dissimilarity in every particular except shape and size." Fitzgerald continues to emphasize the social divisions between the two Eggs and their inhabitants with colorful imagery which develops symbolic significance. Nick lives in Long Island in what is known as the West Egg. The West Egg is located across the bay from the East Egg. Nick, after describing his area as the less fashionable of the two, continues to confess that "this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them."

The relationship between geography and social values is an important motif in The Great Gatsby. Each setting in the novel corresponds to a particular thematic idea or character type. This extract introduces the...
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