Describe at least ONE important setting in the written text(s). Explain how the setting helped to show the writer’s idea(s). Note: Setting is the time, place, and circumstances that form the background against which characters or individuals live and act.

“The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement”. The Great Gatsby is written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and follows the life of three main characters during their 1920’s upper-class summer in New York, narrated by Nick Carraway. Their lives are filled with lies, materialism and judgment. Fitzgerald uses the idea of the American Dream to illustrate settings and the people that live there, but the illusion of the American Dream is that it can only ever be a dream. I will discuss that no matter how hard you work, the illusion of the American Dream will aways be just a dream.

  • West Egg – corrupt American dream
  • East Egg – fake American dream
  • Valley of Ashes – the failed of the American dream

West Egg represents the corruption of the American Dream. West Egg is the home to the newly rich, those that live there have made their wealth illegally. They have earned their way up the social classes to becoming successful and wealthy but they are still not accepted into the upper-class society. They will never truly fulfil the American Dream as they’d never be treated as equal which is why it represents the corruption of the American Dream. They didn’t make their wealth legally, they surpassed the hard work that the American Dream reflects, they will never be accepted as they aren’t as classy and respected as East Egg (old money – those who were born into wealth and gained money through inheritance). When Tom Buchanan first attends Gatsby’s party, he labels Gatsby and those that attend his parties as bootleggers as “a lot of these newly rich people are just big bootleggers” so are therefore not worthy of respect from the upper class. Those that live in West Egg are automatically labelled as bootleggers because East Egg can’t comprehend how anybody could make all of their wealth from working so, therefore, must have made their money illegally. We later discover that Gatsby did, in fact, make his wealth from selling liquor which was illegal in the 1920’s, supporting the corruption of the American Dream. West Egg and East Egg are almost the same despite how those that live there made their wealth (illegally and through inheritance) they are the same as they are both home to the upper class. Even though West Egg is labelled “the less fashionable of the two” Nick believes that this is “the most superficial tag”.  West and East Egg have a huge divide of old and new money but both still have a lot of wealth. This shows truly how corrupt the American Dream is, that two groups of people are wealthy but the ones who ‘worked’ for their wealth still aren’t accepted into the upper-class society.

Essay Plans

Event Relationship Evidence
Daisy and Gatsby reunion How Daisy and Gatsby’s relationship is an illusion that it could never be possible “If it wasn’t for the mist, we could see your home across the bay…. You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock”

“Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy. It had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon.

Myrtle’s Death How Tom and Daisy’s relationship is held togeather by materialism “They weren’t happy… and yet they weren’t unhappy either”

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and the retreated back into their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…”

Gatsby’s Death How much Nick admired Gatsby “Most of these reports were a nightmare, grotesque, circumstantial, eager and untrue”

“Gatsby turned out alright in the end”


Place Revealed Evidence
East Egg The false American Dream  “…the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water.”

“Distinguished secret society to which she and Tom belong”


West Egg The corruption of the American Dream “Who is this Gatsby anyhow… Some big bootlegger?… I didn’t hear it. I imagined it. A lot of these newly rich people are just big bootleggers”

“the less fashionable of the two, through this is the most superficial tag”

Valley of Ashes The impossibility of the American Dream “ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke”

“men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air”

Character Idea Evidence
Jay Gatsby You can never reinvent yourself “This fella’s a regular Belasco”

The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself

“where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about”


Nick Carraway You can’t hide from yourself “I am one of the few honest people I have ever known”

“I thought it was your secret pride”

“careless people… incurably dishonest… quality of distortion”

Daisy Buchanan Not everyone is who they appear to be “what a grotesque thing a rose it”

“they weren’t happy and yet they weren’t unhappy either”

The Great Gatsby – Language Features

Quote 1

Gatsby turned out alright in the end, it was what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.” – Nick

The quote is said at the start of the book and foreshadows that something bad is due to happen, it also shows that Nick and Gatsby may develop a close relationship based on how defensive Nick sounds and he withdraws judgment of Gatsby which he doesn’t with the other characters.

Gatsby turned out alright in the end as he dies, he doesn’t have to worry about anything, he doesn’t have to be surrounded by “careless people” like Tom and Daisy.

Daisy destroyed Gatsby’s dream, she’s the reason he couldn’t fulfil it.

Gatsby dreamed of a life with Daisy and wealth, from a young age he dreamed of bigger and better things then what he had. He believed in The American Dream, but people like Daisy corrupted that dream for Gatsby. The American Dream is the idea that everyone will have the chance to be happy and successful in their lives but Gatsby was missing the acceptance of the upper class which in turn would make him ‘worthy’ to be with Daisy. When Gatsby couldn’t ‘have’ Daisy for his own, he turned to his wealth, showing off his money by throwing extravagant parties. Gatsby was desperate to get Daisy’s attention and acceptance but it never happened. Referring to Daisy as dust shows the corruption of Gatsby’s hopes and dreams and ultimately the corruption of The American Dream as it’s based on people’s acceptance.

Abortive is something that ends abruptly and sorrow is deep distress from a lost. Gatsby’s relationship with Daisy ended abruptly when Daisy couldn’t deny her love for Tom, Gatsby could no longer see a future with her. Gatsby’s death was also abrupt, he didn’t have time to dwell or grieve the lost of his love for Daisy.

Quote 2

I hope she’ll be a fool — that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool . . . You see, I think everything’s terrible anyhow . . . And I know. I’ve been everywhere and seen everything and done everything.” – Daisy

This shows that Daisy is smarter than what she presents, she’s not a fool but is a product of a society full of fools. Daisy does care for her daughter and hopes her daughter is the same as other women during that time – a fool and lacks ambition. Daisy wants the best for her daughter and doesn’t want to be mistreated by men in that era, so being a fool is the best thing she can be as it’d get her far in life and she’d be supported financially.

During the 1920s (time period of The Great Gatsby), beauty and appearance in women are more important than brains and personality. It shows the drastic-ness of inequality during that time period in comparison to the slight progress we have now.

Daisy knows the life she lives isn’t perfect, she’s lonely and has no real friends. All she has is money. 

Daisy seeing and doing everything shows how boring her life is. Her wealth is the only thing in her life that interest her now, it’s the only thing new. She’s done so much that she thinks everything is terrible, showing how blase the upper class lifestyle is, they have so much money they don’t know what to do with it.


Quote 3

“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.” – Nick

The quote uses emotive language to set the scene and the feeling of the Valley of Ashes, to help the reader connect with the people who live there and try and feel how they feel living there. It also uses personification, ashes don’t grow but saying that they do helps create a more vivid picture of the scene.

Ashes represent the dead dreams of those who live in the Valley of Ashes, they’ve lost hope in The American Dream and have come to turns and accepted that this is their life and there is no way out. They show the flaws and corruption of The Amercian Dream. Using ashes sets a dark, depressing tone to the scene and gives a dark emotion.

The ashes (dead dreams) are so profound that it completely shapes the landscape. They can’t escape the corruption of The American Dream as it’s all around them, there is no way out. Saying that the ashes grow like wheat, probably means that there was so much ash that it seemed to be growing. Using the word grotesque shows that the scale of the ashes was enormous and filled the valley, the valley was filled with dead hopes and dreams. 

The valley wasn’t just carved out of the dying dreams of those who live there, but the people live and breath their dead dreams. There is no escaping the disaster that is The American Dream, as it is a part of who they are now. There houses being made out of ‘ashes’ shows they can’t leave, it’s their home and always will be. They have learnt to accept that this gloomy, dull lifestyle will always be theirs and they will always just be the lowest of the working class.

The use of dimly shows how grey and dull the Valley of Ashes is, it’s blurred and faded. As the men are “crumbling through the powdery air” shows that when the lost hope of The American Dream, a part of them died with it. They’ve lost hope, they know and have accepted this lifestyle and just spend their lives working. They have no substance to their lives, they just work. They breath lost hope, it is part of who they are.


Quote 4

“His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all. The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God . . . and he must be about His Father’s business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen year old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception, he was faithful to the end.” – Nick

Fitzgerald uses a variety of sentence lengths, there are long sentences before and after “He was a son of God”. Having this sentence as a short, simple sentence draws focus and creates impact. 

This is quite the opposite of who Gatsby is and who he says his family is. This shows a major flaw in his story of his life showing the lies he’s told to get to the position he’s in. He doesn’t come from a line of success, his parents lack ambition and are unsuccessful.

From a young age, Gatsby knew he wanted more in his life, he didn’t want to follow the path that his parents have paved. He always wanted more in life. He imagined a bigger and better life but the use of imagination shows that Gatsby could only imagine, what he completely wants could never fully be part of reality.

Plato is a Greek philosopher who was concerned with the real versus ideal world. This shows that Gatsby created an ideal version of himself and tried to fulfil an ideal life, he re-invented himself as someone who is wealthy and educated. He creates his new self and new world from his own imagination but it could never be fully in the real world – it isn’t realistic. He created a better modelled version of James Gatz, who has a chance to live out The American Dream. 

Gatsby turned his back on his family – on his father. Re-inventing himself left him with no family. The only person he had to look over him was ‘God’, the eyes in the Valley of Ashes are also referred to as God meaning God is constantly looking for his ‘son’, Gatsby.

His father is God.

Gatsby was so young when he created his ideal self that he wasn’t aware of the flaws or impracticality that ‘Gatsby’s’ life would have. He was so obsessed with ‘Gatsby’s’ life and idealised it immensely and in time slowly he started to change every part of who he was to become the exact same as his ideal self, Gatsby. 

It wasn’t long until he was no longer recognisable. He was so focused and determined to achieve the life that ‘Gatsby’ had, that his imagination completely consumed him and changed who he was. Nothing anybody could say or do would change how he felt about Gatsby, he was faithful to his imagination and his ideal world. Even when he died he was still Gatsby.


Quote 5

He stretched out his arms towards the dark water, in a curious way… involuntarily I glanced seaward and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and faraway, that might have been the end of the dock” – Nick talking about Gatsby

Gatsby knew what the light represented – hope, he knew what it would mean if he reached the light. Him stretching out his arms is him reaching out to hope, reaching out to Daisy and reaching out to the last piece of the puzzle that is his ideal life. 

Nick couldn’t see anything but a light because the green light to everyone else was just a green light, it meant nothing only to warn boats where the dock is. Nick could only see the light, this means the light was the only thing Gatsby could see, it was the light at the end of the tunnel, and he could only see the possibility of their future togeather he couldn’t see the past or the implacabilities of his dream. 

The light being minute and faraway shows how small and distant Gatsby’s dream was. The possibility of Gatsby’s and Daisy future is so small and distant that you could hardly see it making their future an almost impossible reality. 


Quote 6

They were careless people, Tom and Daisythey smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money of their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” – Nick

Nick shows his judgement of others again but calling Tom and Daisy careless shows how they act, they don’t consider other peoples feelings because they know that no matter what their money acts as a superior shield.

This shows the effect of Tom and Daisy’s actions, the use of the word ‘smashed’ is emotive and shows the drastic effect of their actions and how Gatsby felt after being rejected by Daisy. 

This shows that being upper class gives you a superior power over others. They can do whatever they want and their money will protect them. It also shows that being so high up socially, money conquers all. Both Tom and Daisy have affairs but their money is what keeps them strong and togeather as they’d rather be unhappy and rich instead of happy and poor. It doesn’t matter what they do because rich ‘crimes’ don’t count.

Letting other people clean up their ‘mess’ shows how little the upper class care about those who are below them. They do whatever they please until they get bored or caught and leave anything behind being completely, oblivious to whatever issues they caused. 

The American Dream’s connection to The Great Gatsby

The Valley of Ashes is a representation of the corruption and failure of The American Dream. The American Dream is only achievable if you come from a wealthy background, or make your wealth illegally but for the rest of America, The American Dream can only ever be a dream. Gatsby shows the corruption of the dream, that it’s lonely and you will never truly be accepted for your achievements. Tom and Daisy show that being wealthy and being born, already living the dream doesn’t make you happy. The Valley of Ashes shows that no matter how hard you work or how worthy you are of success, some people just can’t turn The American Dream a reality. They’ve accepted that The American Dream can only ever be a dream, they’ve lost hope causing the ashes of dead dreams to lay around them forming the valley. The American Dream is an illusion that it could only ever be a dream, that no matter how hard you work, no matter how much money you have, that no matter what it will always be a dream because everybody’s life has flaws to some degree. You always want more, and always want what you don’t have or can’t get. The American Dream is the biggest illusion in The Great Gatsby as it can only ever be just a dream.

The Great Gatsby – Theme

Theme of Illusion

The Great Gatsby has a running theme that people portray themselves differently to who they truly are creating a persona or character, to fit into social circles, ideal lives and someone who they wish to be. People will always be the same person they once were, no matter how hard they try to suppress who they are, no matter how far they run from the past, no matter what, they will always be the same person and the past will always catch up with them. The characters in The Great Gatsby have two different lives or act as someone they aren’t – Tom lives a double life, one with Daisy and one with Myrtle, Daisy acts classy, sophisticated and kind all to fit into the upper-class lifestyle but in reality she’s materialistic, shallow and fake, Nick claims he’s honest and open-minded but we then see a side of Nick that is constantly consumed in judgment and Gatsby portrays an extravagant lifestyle and that he’s completely happy and content in his life but behind closed doors, he’s unhappy and lonely. They portray different personalities to fit into the upper-class society, each character throws “dust in your eyes” hiding who they truly are, it isn’t until the illusion is dropped and the dust has cleared from your eyes that you can see each character for who they truly are. I think that Fitzgerald is trying to say that we are all just trying to fit in, it doesn’t matter how old you are, how rich you are, people just want to be liked and fit in, Gatsby, for example, changed every aspect of who he was even his name just to fit the upper-class lifestyle to be worthy of Daisy’s love. I think this idea of illusion that we are all just trying to fit in is relevant for teenagers particularly, especially with social media being so influential in our lives, there are so many ‘standards’ to who you should and shouldn’t be. Many people do act differently or try to act differently online and in social situations to fit into social circles or into society as a whole but no matter what you can’t escape your past, you can’t change the past but you can accept it and move on and who you truly are will always be authentic and will come to light eventually. I think the message that there is more to people and their lives than what they portray – good or bad, is an important message to not judge people from what you see as there is more to them than they show, as at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the same thing – fit in. 

The Great Gatsby – Symbol

Yellow and Gold

Yellow and Gold are two colours used repeatedly throughout The Great Gatsby,  Yellow is a cheaper version of the colour gold, which symbolises money, the upper class and materialism but yellow is a ‘fake’ gold. In the context of the book, yellow represents the failure of The American Dream. At the start of the book, when Nick sees Daisy and Jordan “they were both in white” representing their purity, honesty and the ‘innocence’ of the upper class but as the book goes on them and things around them begin to become associated with yellow – “Two girls in twin yellow dresses”, “it was a yellow car… big yellow car”, “yellowing trees” .  Gatsby’s extravagant parties are often filled with “yellow cocktail music”, those that attend the parties show up uninvited, gossiping, excessively drinking showing the classlessness of the upper class. Yellow represents their dishonesty, fakeness and the impurities of the upper class, the flaws and the reality of The American Dream. People strive to have the same wealth and live the lavish lifestyle of the upper class  – it’s part of The American Dream, they want their lives to be filled with gold, “golden turkey”, “gold toilet” and “golden slippers” as it’s seen as perfect but as they start to live the dream their life turns yellow and are poor in friendships and relationship as everyone is fake and dishonest showing the untold truth of The American Dream. The American Dream is purely materialistic. Using yellow and gold helps us understand the upper class (Gatsby, Tom, Daisy and Jordan) and how easily their lives and The American Dream can be perceived as perfect but as you take more notice and become more involved, their lives are filled with lies and friendships and relationships based off wealth which is the reality of The American Dream. Yellow is used to symbolise materialism and is an illusion to peoples fakeness whereas gold is real and can’t be faked as it’s pure and the only thing that is real in The Great Gatsby is their money.


Flowers in The Great Gatsby are used to represent somebodies inner ugliness but is portrayed as beautiful. Daisies are one of the main flowers used throughout The Great Gatsby, Daisy’s name is symbolic as it represents the illusion that she is pure and innocent on the outside (daisy petals are white) but she is materialistic and fake to the core (centre of daisies are yellow which is a fake gold). Daisy’s voice “sounded like money”, which is her desperation and desire for wealth alongside social position. Daisies are ephemeral (they are short lived) and common just like Daisy’s love for Gatsby, it grows and then it dies like nothing ever happened and if it wasn’t for Gatsby’s obsession, Daisy would be just another upper-class woman which is all she is. Roses are used many times throughout the book, roses appear perfect and beautiful because that’s what we perceive them to be but it’s not till you look closely, you realise roses can hurt as they have thorns. In the beginning of the book, Daisy refers to Nick as  “an absolute rose” as Nick appears perfect and untouched as he is new to the world of the upper class, he’s not used to being surrounded by wealth so therefore seems untouched like a rose but as time goes on Nick starts to show an uglier side of him – his judgmental side sticks out like thorns on a rose. The illusion that Nick is rose shows that he appears sincere and honest but as we see more of Nick is judgmental side shows through. Daisy is also referred to as a rose when Gatsby realises what “found what a grotesque thing a rose is”, Daisy was Gatsby’s rose, he was so invested in her and her beauty symbolising a rose but it wasn’t till he was close enough to ‘touch’ her, that she hurt him just like thorns on a rose. If Gatsby hadn’t made Daisy the centre of his ideal world, he would have realised what a rose really is – beauty that hurts. When Gatsby and Daisy meet again, they’re surrounded by flowers “for at two o’clock a greenhouse arrived from Gatsby’s”, but there were no daisies as to Gatsby there was only one daisy in his life – Daisy but there was also no roses as Daisy is Gatsby’s only rose, she’s the only thing that can hurt him. Flowers were used to represent purity and ugliness in The Great Gatsby.

Green Light

The green light is at the end of Daisy’s dock is what Gatsby gazes at from his own representing the “unattainable dream”, the dream that they could one day be together. The green light is just a light at the end of the dock, on all the time to warn boats that there is a structure in the water but to Gatsby, the green light is the illusion, is the hope, that as long as the light shines, there is a chance. “He stretched out his arms towards the dark water, in a curious way… involuntarily I glanced seaward and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of the dock” – Nick, Gatsby reaching out for the green light, reaching out for hope, reaching out for Daisy could never go past just an unattainable dream as it’s not realistic. The light is so close that he can almost touch it – he is so close to Daisy, she’s just across the bay but the possibility of them being together is so far away which is why Gatsby can’t quite grasp the light. The 5 years they spent apart is what creates the distance between Gatsby and the green light, it’s the past, too much has happened in the 5 years – Daisy got married, had a child and Gatsby changed every aspect of who he was, he’s no longer the same person who met Daisy 5 years ago. When Gatsby realises that he and Daisy could never be together, that too much time has past, he stops believing in the green light and their future. “Gatsby believed in the green light… It eluded us then, but that’s no matter” – Nick, Gatsby believed that as long as the green light shined, that he and Daisy could be together but he stopped believing, he couldn’t see a future with her, he lost hope, he stopped dreaming and the illusion was gone. The green light eluded Gatsby from the beginning but that’s all it ever was, an illusion, it could never be any more than that as it was just a green light.  Nick says that the green light “had seemed as close as a star to the moon”, stars are millions of miles aways from the moon but seem so close when you look up to the sky like they are all right next to each other just like Gatsby thought the green light was so close, like he could almost touch it but it was so far away just like the possibility of him and Daisy ever being togeather – it is too far away. The green light is the symbol of hope and possibility for Gatsby’s future with Daisy but is an illusion that it is not possible.

The Great Gatsby – Setting

West Egg

West Egg represents the wealthiest of the working class, it’s referred to as ‘new money’ as people made their wealth through work (often illegally). People who live in West Egg are living The American Dream, they have started without money and have earned their way up the social class to be successful and wealthy. The American Dream is an illusion that it is all a dream, people in West Egg will never reach the social position and class of East Egg, they will never completely fit in with the upper class, it will always be just a dream. West Egg isn’t considered as classy and isn’t as respected as East Egg. “I live at West Egg, the – well, the less fashionable of the two, through this is the most superficial tag” – Nick Carraway, referring to the judgment of West Egg being “the less fashionable of the two” as being superficial, shows that East and West Egg are almost the same. West and East Egg is the division of old and new money but other than that they are the same yet one is more ‘classy’ than the other. A superficial tag is something that appears true but in reality isn’t true at all. East Egg is considered more classy and respected as they never had to work for their wealth and hold that power over others. Everyone in East Egg looks down on people from West Egg to enforce their superiority. “Who is this Gatsby anyhow?” demanded Tom suddenly. “Some big bootlegger?… I didn’t hear it. I imagined it. A lot of these newly rich people are just big bootleggers, you know.” – Tom Buchanan, this quote demonstrates how people of ‘new money’ are labelled, without even knowing Gatsby, Tom labels him as a bootlegger purely based off that he made his wealth recently. Gatsby is very visibly successful, he displays his wealth tremendously in his parties. Tom distrusts anyone who can make their wealth so fast and have so much money without inheriting any of it, this is why Tom labels Gatsby and a lot of West Egg as bootleggers. Tom can’t comprehend how somebody can make so much money through working. This shows how despite both Eggs being very similar, they are treated and labelled very differently, East Egg is labelled classy, wealthy whereas West Egg is labelled bootleggers and aren’t respected.

East Egg

East Egg represents the wealthiest of the upper class. People who live in East Egg have ‘old money’, gaining their wealth through inheritance. They’re more close minded and materialistic than those who live in West Egg, as they have been surrounded by money their entire lives. People in East Egg skipped The American Dream, they didn’t have to work for their wealth, they were just born wealthy, they are what people who believe in The American Dream strive to have. They know no different than the extravagant lifestyle they live. The mansions in East Egg are much nicer that those in West Egg showing how much richer people from East Egg are. “…the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water.” – Nick Carraway, describing the houses from East Egg as palaces give an indication of how rich they are. When people hear the word palace, they think royal, grand and very wealthy. People who live in East Egg are some of the richest in New York which is why they live in ‘places’ rather than just nice houses. As the houses are glittering along the water, you understand that East Egg is full of rich, fancy and classy people as their houses are literally glittering along the water. They put their wealth into materialistic things making their houses so grand and fancy. “… a cheerful red-and-white Georgian Colonial mansion… The lawn started at the beach and ran toward the front door for a quarter of a mile, jumping over sun-dials and brick walks and burning gardens — finally when it reached the house… a line of French windows, glowing now with reflected gold” – Nick Carraway, referring to Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s house as a cheerful mansion gives the impression that because their house is happy, they’re happy as well which is opposite to how they feel in their marriage. Nick details the exterior of their house supporting that these people put so much money into their house that their windows reflect gold and the lawn runs for a quarter of a mile. Detailing East Egg as vividly as Nick does takes the attention away from emotions of the people that live in East Egg, a lot of them are unhappy, they are rich in wealth but not rich in happiness. Detailing East Egg so much is an illusion, it’s hiding how unhappy East Egg is, they are surrounded by affairs and are alone, their friendships and relationships are built on social positions and wealth.

Valley of Ashes

The Valley of Ashes is the industrial area that lies in between the Eggs and Manhattan. Valley of Ashes represents the lowest of the lower class. George and Myrtle Wilson are two that live in the Valley of Ashes, they live among the ‘ashes’ of their dreams dying, in a result losing sight of The American Dream. The industrial factories lay out a layer of soot and ashes, smothering the hopes and dreams of those who live there. “…a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens… ash-grey men, who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air… ash-grey men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an impenetrable cloud” – Nick Carraway, the ashes cover the land, forming and creating mountains of dead dreams. The Valley of Ashes name is an illusion, it alludes that it’s a valley of the dead dreams of those that live there. They all want to leave the Valley of Ashes as they dream and desire so much more in life but as they stay in the valley longer, they lose sight of their dreams forming another “grotesque garden” of dead dreams, they no longer have any drive or determination to leave as they have nothing left. The ‘ashes’ have created a wall – impenetrable cloud, that they can’t past, Myrtle dies trying to leave the Valley of Ashes. The Valley of Ashes is a sad place that those who live there, hope to one day escape. “So we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight” – Nick Carraway, the quote foreshadows Myrtle’s death but it reinforces the sad, depressing, cold atmosphere of the Valley of Ashes. There hasn’t been a quote that associates the valley with happiness, there is no mention of colour just grey and black showing the depression and the death of the dreams. The Valley of Ashes illustrates the impossibility of The American Dream, the more they work the poorer they get and The American Dream can never be more than just a dream. 

New York Apartment

The New York Apartment is where Tom and his mistress Myrtle meetup. It is clear despite all his wealth, Tom hasn’t spent much money on the apartment, yet Myrtle is very proud of the apartment as it’s her closest insight into the upper-class lifestyle that she desires. It is clear that Tom only thinks of the relationship as an affair due to the lack of money he has spent on it. The apartment is an illusion and represents the impossibility of their relationship working as it’s a getaway but won’t progress. The apartment contains “a small living-room, a small dining-room, a small bedroom and bath…furniture entirely too large for it…some of the small scandal magazines of Broadway” – Nick Carraway, the repetition of ‘small’ shows how little money Tom spent into the apartment despite all of his wealth. The apartment in on the top floor showing how egotistic and self-centered Tom and Myrtle are, the furniture being too large for the room refers to Tom’s big personality and how he wants and desires more than what’s possible. The scandal magazines show how scandalous the relationship is as they are both married but it doesn’t affect their actions. Myrtle longs for an extravagant lifestyle but her dream is too large for reality – too large for the room. The apartment is an illusion that life can be any way they want it to be inside of the apartment, making it have “dream-like” qualities but outside of the apartment reality sets in and they awake from their ‘dream’ and they go on living their lives according to the social class system – upper class only associate with upper class and lower class only associate with lower class.



The Great Gatsby – Character

Character Development

Jay Gatsby is the main character in The Great Gatsby.  Gatsby lives in West Egg, Long Island in his mansion. He’s known for throwing grand parties every Saturday night and is very wealthy. Almost everybody has heard of Gatsby but very few know who he is. There are many rumours about where he’s from, who he is and how he made his wealth. Gatsby is very open about who he is to those who asks but his story about him seems scripted and rehearsed. We see Gatsby as a wealthy businessman, who loves to throw extravagant parties. He has a perfect life, with every detail of what he presents to the world, carefully perfected. As we get to know Gatsby, we learn his life is all but perfect. Gatsby is a character James Gatz (his real name) has created and his house is his stage. He’s living his life through a character he created in his idealistic world. “This fella’s a regular Belasco” – Owl-Eyes, the reference to Belasco in The Great Gatsby is that Gatsby is putting on a ‘show’. Belasco was known for having realistic props to make his sets look real. Owl-Eyes referring to Gatsby as Belasco, is because his library is theatrical and seems real but as you look closer his books are uncut (they haven’t been opened) this shows Gatsby has put so much effort into perfecting his set. The appearance of Gatsby and his house is an illusion as when you look closer you see that they are fake and are just props. Gatsby met Daisy 5 years previous from when the book is set. Gatsby and Daisy were in love but when Gatsby went to war, Daisy met and married Tom Buchanan. Gatsby then dedicated his life to be socially and financially eligible to be with Daisy, during this time, Gatsby changed every aspect of who he was to be upper class and be with Daisy. When Gatsby meets Daisy again after 5 years, his guard almost completely drops, cracks in his rehearsed story start to show through. Lies about who he is are being unveiled. The desperation and the determination to get Daisy back has completely consumed who he once was, the “green light” that Gatsby believed in blinded him from reality. The green light in The Great Gatsby symbolises hope, hope that he can one day be with the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan. As long as he believes in the green light, he believes in the possibility and the chance that he can one day be with Daisy. “Gatsby believed in the green light” – Nick Carraway, when Gatsby stops believing in the green light he stopped believing in his future with Daisy. Throughout the book, Gatsby was holding onto hope, holding onto the possibility that he can be with Daisy. The green light was an illusion, it blinded Gatsby, it led him to believe that as long as the green light shone, they could have a future togeather. When Daisy doesn’t call, Gatsby stops believing, he’s left with nothing, the green light was what drove him for 5 years, the green light was his only hope. His whole stage, the character that he’s created means nothing, never did, never will and Gatsby only realises this when he stops believing in the green light.  He was a living illusion, everything we see from the outside – parties, grand rooms, fancy suits, were hiding the fact that Gatsby is sad, alone and desperate to be with Daisy. The life that he presents, the character that he shows and the set that he displays is an illusion, it’s his ideal world in an unrealistic reality.

Nick Carraway is the narrator of The Great Gatsby.He attended Yale and is a businessman. After gaining some wealth, Nick made the move to West Egg. Nick lives in a house next to Gatsby in West Egg, Long Island. We see the events through Nick’s eyes. Nick acts as the fly on the wall, telling the events as they are rather than what he perceives them to be.  Nick claims, to be honest, open-minded and a good listener but he ends up turning his back on his morals. “Whenever you feel like criticising anyone, just remember that all the people in the world haven’t had the same advantages you have” – Nick Carraways Father, Nick makes it clear from the beginning that he withdraws as much judgement as humanly possible and ignores the judgement of those around him, the advice that his father gave him supports this as he makes it clear that he believes and takes the advice to heart. He doesn’t let wealth and materialistic possessions dominate his life unlike those around him. This makes Nick the perfect narrator as he doesn’t let actions, rumours or materialism influence his judgments, his thoughts and judgments on people are true. Before Nick met Gatsby, he was shy and didn’t seem to have a desire to socialise, after meeting Gatsby at one of his parties, Nick instantly gains confidence. As Nick attends more and more parties, he gains more confidence and in turn changes some of his morals. Nick slowly becomes more drawn into the lives he’s observing and slowly picks up the some of the characteristics they carry. He starts lying to himself and doesn’t realise how judgmental he is being. Nick starts judging people on actions and wealth and often tells events, glorifying and in support of Gatsby. Nick refers to Daisy and Tom Buchanan as “careless people”, calls Jordan Baker “incurably dishonest” and East Egg “quality of distortion”. Nick is slowly turning into the kind of people that he’s observing. He becomes just as or even more judgmental than they are. The more Nick builds relationships with Daisy, Gatsby, Jordan and even Tom the least honest he becomes. Jordan says “Well, I met another bad driver… I thought you were rather an honest, straightforward person. I thought it was your secret pride”. Jordan refers to them all (Daisy, Gatsby, Tom) as being ‘bad drivers’ meaning that they are all dishonest and judgmental, Jordan didn’t initially think that Nick was like them, she thought it was his honesty was “his secret pride” until she realised that he too was a ‘bad driver’. Nick soon realises he doesn’t want to be part of the world that his ‘friends’ live in. The life of the rich was appealing to Nick at first and he was intrigued to be part of the extravagance of their lives but he soon realises the person he has become isn’t someone he wants to be. This caused Nick to go back home in the Midwest.

Daisy Buchanan lives in her mansion in East Egg, Long Island with her husband Tom and her daughter, Pammy. Daisy comes from a very wealthy family and is related to Nick Carraway. Daisy Buchanan is Gatsby’s obsession, he’s devoted his life and wealthy to be worthy of her love. Daisy and Gatsby met while he was in the military. Daisy promised to wait for Gatsby while he was at war but instead met Tom Buchanan who was much wealthier and decided to marry Tom instead. Daisy is an upper-class socialite. Daisy’s shallow, materialistic, selfish but seems to be ‘in love’ with Gatsby once reunited. “There beautiful shirts” – Daisy Buchanan, when Daisy reunites with Gatsby, she breaks down in tears while Gatsby is throwing shirts around the room. The shirts represent money and Gatsby’s wealth. Gatsby is almost as wealthy as Tom making her confuse as both can afford to give her the materialistic things she desires.  She doesn’t know what to do and starts to question if Gatsby can make her happier than Tom. She rembers the memories her and Gatsby had 5 years ago but remains uncertain about a future with Gatsby. Gatsby is Daisy’s summer fling, their ‘relationship’ wasn’t going to go past summer, Daisy’s heart lies with the wealth and highest of the upper class (Tom). “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and the retreated back into their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…” – Nick Carraway, this supports that Daisy’s heart lies where the money is, she may have once loved Gatsby but when it comes down to choosing who to be with, she chooses Tom as he’s wealthier.  When Daisy is confronted and asked to ‘admit’ that she never loved Tom, she struggles with her feelings for Gatsby. She chooses to stay with Tom are partly because of financial security and because of his social stand. Gatsby isn’t from the same social circles so she goes back to Tom because he’s a safer option due to the social stand and power he carries. Daisy ignores Gatsby after the summer, she doesn’t talk nor acknowledge his existence, she didn’t even care to attend his funeral. She went back into the big house, with all her money and carried on with her life like summer never happened, It shows Daisy isn’t as innocent as she was portrayed in the beginning, and that she leads people on until she gets bored or has to make a choice without money being involved. She chooses to hide behind her wealth, making her feel invincible but in reality, lonely. She’s unhappy with Tom but is happy with the life she and Tom shares. 

Characters and Illusion

Gatsby, Nick and Daisy all help us understand how easy it is to put on a persona and how we can be so oblivious to the kind of person someone truly is. Gatsby lied about who he was and where he’s from, Nick called himself, honest and nonjudgmental but that couldn’t be further from the truth and Daisy bases judgment and opinions based on wealth and social positions. Gatsby’s life seems idealistic like he’s living the perfect life. As we get to know more about Gatsby we learn that his past isn’t exactly as he says it is. “He threw dust in your eyes just like he did in Daisy’s” – Tom Buchanan, the way Gatsby shares his life story and the way he perceives his life is almost completely opposite to the truth.Gatsby’s story about who he ‘is’ starts to collapse when he reunites with Daisy but his materialistic possessions throw “dust in the eyes” of the people around him from who he truly is acting as an illusion. Gatsby comes from a poor farming background, from a young age he was never content with who he was but it wasn’t till he found a real motive – Daisy,  to change who he was, that his life turned into an illusion. His obsession with Daisy made him ‘happy’ and gave him a ‘perfect life’ – he was rich and lives in a big mansion but after that is gone, he is sad and alone and has nothing but materialistic possessions. The dust is cleared from Daisy’s eyes and she is no longer blinded by his materialism and see’s him for who he truly is – unhappy, alone and a liar. Nick Carraway makes it clear that he is an honest and nonjudgmental guy. He holds his morals close to his heart. This makes it seem that Nick is good narrator as he’ll tell the story as it is and not how he perceives it to be. “I thought it was your secret pride” – Jordan Baker thought that Nick’s honesty and open-mindedness were his secret pride as it’s something that the others (Gatsby, Daisy, Tom and Jordan) didn’t have. Jordan soon realises that Nick is not as open minded as he once thought, calling Tom and Daisy “careless” and perceives Tom to be “a sturdy, straw haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner… arrogant eyes… dominance over his face… ” Nick is constantly judging those around him despite having ‘strong morals’. Nick staying more quiet in social situations and not getting too involved is an illusion to how judgmental he is. He’s constantly judging his ‘friends’ and East Egg. He starts telling the story of how he perceives it and not for what it is showing that the illusion of his honesty is starting to fade. Daisy Buchanan presents herself to be kind and innocent but as time goes on, her choices aren’t always for the right reason and she makes decisions based on what the beneficial outcome for her will be. Daisy married Tom because he holds the social position that she longed for, he’s very wealthier and can give her all the materialistic things she wants. When Daisy reunites with Gatsby, he’s much richer and wealthier than he once was. Daisy spends time with Gatsby, leading him on because she is attracted to his money and materialistic means. “She vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life, leaving Gatsby – nothing” – Nick Carraway, this shows that Daisy used Gatsby as a way to past time over the summer and left him nothing when she got bored. When Daisy was forced to make a decision based on her feelings rather that money, she chooses Tom over Gatsby and completely ignores him, going on with her life like they never even once crossed paths. She chooses the life with money and the upper-class social position she desires. The illusion that Daisy is falling back in love with Gatsby after 5 years of separation is hiding that somebody’s wealth is greater than love in the life of the upper class. Gatsby, Nick and Daisy all teach us that everybody is part of an illusion, whether or not they realise. Gatsby, Nick and Daisy were all hiding who they truly were but as time goes on their true colours show and the truth comes out. Gatsby appears to have this amazing life but as we get to know him we learn he’s sad and alone and isn’t who he says he is. Nick is honest and is non-judgemental but as he progresses he is rude and judges everybody’s every move. Daisy seems kind but in reality is selfish and makes decisions based on social positions and wealth. The dust that Tom Buchanan talks about, represents illusion and how all the characters ‘blinded’ each other of who they truly are. People through ‘dust’ in other’s eyes but as you get to know them the dust clears and the illusion has gone and who they truly are, is completely clear. You don’t know how happy or unhappy, honest or judgmental, selfish or unselfish somebody is until you truly know them and the dust has cleared and the illusion is gone.

Relationships and Illusion 

Tom and Daisy’s relationship is an illusion, from the outside their marriage and their life seems perfect. They live in East Egg with their daughter Pammy in a big nice house, with lots of money and they appear to be happily married.“They weren’t happy… and yet they weren’t unhappy either” – Nick Carraway, both Tom and Daisy are unhappy in their marriages but know they are better to stay togeather rather than to get a divorce. Tom and Daisy both have affairs but continue to live with each other as if nothing can harm their perfect marriage. Tom and Daisy both are unhappy with their lives but continue to stay togeather based on their social status and the wealth they bring. Their unhappy with their marriage but are happy with their life they live togeather. They may have once loved each other but they aren’t in love anymore but if anything was to happen to the other they would be heartbroken as they do love each other – there just not in love. Their marriage is important to each other as it reassures the social position they both long for. Daisy was in love at the start of the marriage but Tom’s continual affairs have put a burden on the marriage and Daisy’s feelings. With Daisy’s unhappiness and Tom’s affairs, social class is a stronger bond than love which is why they still stay togeather. The illusion that they are happy in their marriage is to hide the fact that they are unhappy and don’t wish to be togeather.

Gatsby and Daisy met 5 years previous to when the book is set before Gatsby went away to war. Daisy went her own way and married Tom Buchanan. Over the 5 years apart, Daisy went on with life whereas post-war, Gatsby dedicated his life to be successful, having a high social position, wealthy and building a life that Daisy could fit into. Gatsby was hopeful and believed in the possibility that he and Daisy could live happily ever after, that the 5 years between them didn’t matter. “If it wasn’t for the mist, we could see your home across the bay…. You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock” – Gatsby, the mist represents the 5 years that have passed by and the green light represents the hope and the dream that they could be togeather again. As Daisy and Gatsby spend more time togeather the 5 years apart becomes obvious, Gatsby was losing hope as the past was coming between them. Gatsby still remained optimistic and hopeful, he didn’t want to admit that too much time has passed between them. The green light is an illusion that Daisy and Gatsby would work, the mist derails the illusion and brings them back to reality, their affair isn’t going to past the summer months. Daisies are white and yellow. In The Great Gatsby, white represents purity, innocence and beauty,  yellow represents fake and materialism. Daisy appears innocent and kind but in reality, is fake and materialistic, Gatsby doesn’t realise this until the end. Gatsby realises that Daisy is a rose, she is his rose, “as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is” – Nick Carraway, when you first look at a rose, you see it’s beauty and elegance, it’s perfection. When you get close to it you see it’s thorns, when you touch it, how painful it can be. When Gatsby and Daisy meet again, they’re surrounded by flowers (harmless ones like daisies) but now it is revealed that Daisy is the rose in Gatsby’s garden – the most beautiful and perfect but also the one that causes the most pain. Gatsby could dream of his life with Daisy and see her beauty and innocence but when he thought he finally could get her back and could now ‘touch’ her, she hurts him just like a rose hurts when you touch it. The reference to daisies and roses in The Great Gatsby is an illusion to Daisy and Gatsby’s relationship, he thought she was his daisy but when he accepts that he and Daisy could never be togeather, she ‘turns’ into his rose. 

Myrtle sees her relationship with Tom as an escape out of her marriage and sometimes romantic whereas Tom sees the relationship as another one of his affairs. Tom and Myrtle’s relationship, is predominantly physical attraction but after Myrtle’s death, Tom does show an emotional side that hasn’t been shown before but at the end of the day he would never leave Daisy and Myrtle is just another affair. Myrtle lives in the valley of ashes which homes the bottom of the lower class, Tom lives quite the opposite life in East Egg. Myrtle is very materialistic, “I married him (George) because I thought he was a gentleman…  but he wasn’t fit to lick my shoe… The only crazy I was was when I married him. I knew right away I made a mistake. He borrowed somebody’s best suit to get married in… I lay down and cried to beat the band all afternoon.” Myrtle married George because she thought he had more money than he actually did, when she realised he borrowed a suit, she lay down and cried away the afternoon because she realised she will be stuck in the lowest of the lower class and would never go beyond that. Myrtle knew Tom was rich when they met, the idea of being with the upper class is appealing to Myrtle, she’s in love with the idea of his wealth and not Tom. Toms wealth is an illusion, Myrtle believes that she and Tom will live a long happy life togeather eventually but they aren’t going to work, Myrtle is blinded by Toms wealth to see that he will never truly love her. Myrtle is in love with Toms wealth and Myrtle is just another affair and it could never go past that. The apartment where Tom and Myrtle meet is an illusion that their ‘relationship’ will never go past an affair.“Then she flounced over to the dog, kissed it with ecstasy, and swept into the kitchen, implying that a dozen chefs awaited her order there” – Nick Carraway is alluding that everything that happens in the apartment isn’t truly part of the reality they all live in. Tom and Myrtle live completely different lives and outside of the apartment, would never associate with each other. When they leave the apartment they go their separate ways and the fantasy is over, they don’t act like their togeather outside of the apartment. Myrtle acting like there are a dozen chefs in the kitchen is an illusion that she could never afford to have even one chef but it’s her way to dream what life would be like with Tom, the life of the upper class. The apartment is an illusion, it’s where their relationship is safe but it doesn’t leave the apartment walls.



The American Dream

“That dream of a land in which life should be better and richer, and fuller for everyone with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” – James Truslow, Historian

  • The home of the land and the land of the brave – America
  • The dream is an illusion due to the corruption
  • Poor get poorer and the rich get richer

The American Dream is the idea that American social, economic and political success is achievable for everyone regardless of race, gender, class, nationality. It’s where opportunities are based off ability and achievement rather than social classes, political views, etc. If you put in enough effort, you will be rewarded with wealth, etc.

The American Dream in The Great Gatsby

  • Gatsby worked hard but illegally. Gatsby shows the corruption version of the dream
  • Valley of Ashes and Wilson. These people work hard every day but they remain poor and their lives are a struggle. These people and this setting represent the illusion of the dream. They believe if they strive for it but it never comes.
  • Tom and Daisy. Have not worked at all and are born into ‘the dream’. They don’t live the ‘dream’lifestyle because their lives are centred around ‘things’ and ‘events’.

The Great Gatsby 7

The scene in the hotel room in chapter 7 mirrors the hotel scene in chapter 2. Tom and Myrtle would go away into their apartment to get away from reality. In reality, Tom and Myrtle can never be togeather as they live such different lives and are from opposite social classes. They’re having a ‘party’ with people who are from different classes. Being in the apartment is like their little bubble to be togeather. In chapter 7 Daisy and Gatsby are in the hotel room with Tom, Nick, and Jordan. The hotel room represents Daisy’s and Gatsby’s bubble. When in the room they can act like that there is a chance for them to be togeather. They can act like that there from similar backgrounds and that they’re both from East Egg. In the hotel room, they can act as if 5 years haven’t gone by. When they leave the room, all the time that’s gone by comes back and reality sets in. The reality that there isn’t a future for them togeather.

The Great Gatsby – Nick

In the opening of the book, Fitzgerald portrays Nick as someone who is unjudgemental and chooses to keep what he thinks of people to himself. In doing so Nick can remain neutral throughout the story and won’t be influenced by people’s thoughts and feelings.

This can be supported by a simple sentence – “Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope”. All the sentences before have been long and drawn out and builds tension, having a short sentence releases all tension and demands the reader to focus on a certain point. In this context the sentence summaries that Nick reserves all judgment possible and chooses not to voice it. It shows that Nick will delay judgement on people who may have done wrong – giving them “infinite hope” until they do right.

Personification is to help humanise things and help the reader to relate to the text. It makes the text more lively and vivid. “turning over in my mind ever since” is a form of personification. The fact that Nick has been turning over the advice in his mind indicates that he’s been thinking it and may even mean that Nick believes the advice. This further supports that Nick is unjudgmental and tries to remain neutral making him a good narrator.

Emotive language helps persuade readers, it helps the writer to get the reader to sympathise with characters. It evokes emotion and causes impact in the text.  The use of ‘vulnerable’ is used in past tense indicating that Nick isn’t vulnerable. It suggests he is older and wiser now and therefore more mature.