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Great Gatsby

By wayne789 Apr 22, 2013 1256 Words
Throughout American history, the West has been seen as a land of promise and possibility—the very emblem of American ideals. Tom and Daisy, like other members of the upper class, have betrayed America’s democratic ideals by perpetuating a rigid class structure that excludes newcomers from its upper reaches, much like the feudal aristocracy that America had left behind. Valley of ashes: gray industrial dumping ground between west egg and NYC Tom: aristocrat

East Egg represents the old aristocracy, West Egg the newly rich, the valley of ashes the moral and social decay of America, and New York City the uninhibited, amoral quest for money and pleasure. Additionally, the East is connected to the moral decay and social cynicism of New York, while the West (including Midwestern and northern areas such as Minnesota) is connected to more traditional social values and ideals. Modernism:

* Emergence of capitalism (democracy+feudalism)
* Industrial revolution
* Scientific thoughts (facts) vs religious beliefs(faith) * Mixing of cultures and classes which brought with it whole new ways of looking at the world and perceiving reality

“Cant repeat the past? Why of course you can”: Gatsby wanted to relive the past and attempt to restructure it until it was perfection rather than accept what his past actually had been and for that matter accept his life as it was. Post WWI

Ulysses-james joyce
Past meets future
Multiple voices/languages
Fragmented cultures/fractures

Modernism first took place in the Jazz age and/or the roaring twenties; this period was all about prohibition and intolerance, flappers, gangsters, and crime. In 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment made it illegal to manufacture or sell alcohol. This helped to create a network of criminal organization in the trade of illegal alcohol. Moreover, in 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment gave the women the right to vote, which is what probably helped alter the traditional moral and social standards dramatically; women began to assert new freedoms What also makes the novel a modernist novel is the iconoclastic symbol of Dr. T.J. Eckleberg eyes and what it represents. It is known that in modernism God is dead and people are looking for something else to replace Him. In the novel, "Dr. T. J. Eckleburg is actually a billboard that represents God. Times were changing and God was not, people's main concern in life anymore."(Orme, 1999) Dr. Eckleburg's billboard is clearly paralleled to God revealing Fitzgerald's belief that America had a lack of morals and faith in God in the 1920s. The Great Gatsby is also a modernist novel because of its major team; loss of American dream. Modernism was characterised by a loss of everything people believed in. "Fitzgerald work is haunted by loss, a sense that something is lacking in most modern American lives."(Annenberg media 97-05) The original James Gatz fallows his American dream to be an upper-class boy from a wealthy background. He has invented a new him, but also thrived in his self-made success. He was both financially and sociably successful. However, he realises soon that his dream turns into ashes when Daisy picks Tom over him. It is a story of a great loss, loss of a dream, of love, of illusions. The novel chronicles an era that Fitzgerald himself dubbed the "Jazz Age". Following the shock and chaos of World War I, American society enjoyed unprecedented levels of prosperity during the "roaring" 1920s as the economy soared. At the same time, Prohibition, the ban on the sale and manufacture of alcohol as mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment, made millionaires out of bootleggers and led to an increase in organized crime. Although Fitzgerald, like Nick Carraway in his novel, idolized the riches and glamor of the age, he was uncomfortable with the unrestrained materialism and the lack of morality that went with it.

Discuss Gatsby’s character as Nick perceives him throughout the novel. What makes Gatsby “great”? In one sense, the title of the novel is ironic; the title character is neither “great” nor named Gatsby. He is a criminal whose real name is James Gatz, and the life he has created for himself is an illusion. By the same token, the title of the novel refers to the theatrical skill with which Gatsby makes this illusion seem real: the moniker “the Great Gatsby” suggests the sort of vaudeville billing that would have been given to an acrobat, an escape artist, or a magician. Nick is particularly taken with Gatsby and considers him a great figure. He sees both the extraordinary quality of hope that Gatsby possesses and his idealistic dream of loving Daisy in a perfect world. Though Nick recognizes Gatsby’s flaws the first time he meets him, he cannot help but admire Gatsby’s brilliant smile, his romantic idealization of Daisy, and his yearning for the future. The private Gatsby who stretches his arms out toward the green light on Daisy’s dock seems somehow more real than the vulgar, social Gatsby who wears a pink suit to his party and calls everyone “old sport.” Nick alone among the novel’s characters recognizes that Gatsby’s love for Daisy has less to do with Daisy’s inner qualities than with Gatsby’s own. That is, Gatsby makes Daisy his dream because his heart demands a dream, not because Daisy truly deserves the passion that Gatsby feels for her. Further, Gatsby impresses Nick with his power to make his dreams come true—as a child he dreamed of wealth and luxury, and he has attained them, albeit through criminal means. As a man, he dreams of Daisy, and for a while he wins her, too. In a world without a moral center, in which attempting to fulfill one’s dreams is like rowing a boat against the current, Gatsby’s power to dream lifts him above the meaningless and amoral pleasure-seeking of New York society. In Nick’s view, Gatsby’s capacity to dream makes him “great” despite his flaws and eventual undoing. How does the geography of the novel dictate its themes and characters? What role does setting play in The Great Gatsby? Each of the four important geographical locations in the novel—West Egg, East Egg, the valley of ashes, and New York City—corresponds to a particular theme or type of character encountered in the story. West Egg is like Gatsby, full of garish extravagance, symbolizing the emergence of the new rich alongside the established aristocracy of the 1920s. East Egg is like the Buchanans, wealthy, possessing high social status, and powerful, symbolizing the old upper class that continued to dominate the American social landscape. The valley of ashes is like George Wilson, desolate, desperate, and utterly without hope, symbolizing the moral decay of American society hidden by the glittering surface of upper-class extravagance. New York City is simply chaos, an abundant swell of variety and life, associated with the “quality of distortion” that Nick perceives in the East. Setting is extremely important to The Great Gatsby, as it reinforces the themes and character traits that drive the novel’s critical events. Even the weather matches the flow of the plot. Gatsby’s reunion with Daisy begins in a ferocious thunderstorm and reaches its happiest moment just as the sun comes out. Tom’s confrontation with Gatsby occurs on the hottest day of the summer. Finally, Gatsby’s death occurs just as autumn creeps into the air. The specificity of the settings in The Great Gatsby contributes greatly to the creation of distinct zones in which the conflicting values of various characters are forced to confront each other.

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