The Great Gatsby - Eden Imagery

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In the Great Gatsby, each character is longing for one particular paradise. Only one character actually reaches utopia, and the arrival is a mixed blessing at best. The concept of paradise in The Great Gatsby is a shifting, fleeting illusion of happiness, joy, love, and perfection, a mirage that leads each character to reach deeper, look harder, strive farther. There is Myrtle Wilson's gaudy, flashy hotel paradise in which she can pretend that she is glamorous, elite, wanted and loved. She clings fiercely enough to this ragged dream to brave the righteous anger of Tom Buchanan by voicing her jealous terror that he will return to his wife. There is a desperation to her full, spirited style of living, she wants so much to escape the grey, dead land of the Valley of Ashes that she colours her life with any brightness she can find, be it broken glass or diamonds. Nick describes land she finds herself in as a wasteland, a desert, saying "this is the 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" (page 29). It is from this that Myrtle is trying to escape, this life-in-death valley that characterises the underbelly of New York's glitter and lights and finery, and this that she is dragged back to by the dawning jealous rage of a normally unassuming husband. To run away from the grey and the death, the colourful, brimming woman runs out, arms outstretched, to the car she thinks belongs to the man who promised to take her away from the Valley. But -- she began in shadows and in shadows she dies, "her life violently extinguished, knelt in the road and mingled her thick, dark blood with the dust" (page 144). There is an "ashes to ashes dust to dust" element to every action in the novel, and Myrtle is no exception. We as readers focus more...
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