Essay

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. West Egg has rightfully earned their position into the life that the upper class live but still aren’t treated as equal, which is part of what the American Dream is. Fitzgerald uses West Egg to show the corruption of the American Dream. Those that live in West Egg can never truly be accepted by the upper class, never truly fulfilling the American Dream. No matter how hard they work, they will always be just the working class. Not only does it represents people’s hopes and dreams being an illusion but also shows the downfall and corruption of the American Dream and how it’s never fully achievable. The idea of the American Dream is that people can live a better, richer and fuller life “with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement”. The idea of the further you climb up the social classes, the less accepted you become and more desperate you become for respect. Even after those that live in West Egg have rightfully earned their place in the upper-class society they are still deemed “less fashionable” and are labelled as bootleggers. They’ve worked hard and still aren’t accepted. They are so desperate to be apart of the upper class that they turn to illegal businesses to earn their wealth, cheating and corrupting the American Dream.

East Egg represents the fake American Dream. East Egg is where the highest of the upper class live, they have earned their wealth through inheritance and live and breath money. They haven’t had to work hard for their wealth, it was handed to them. They hold a superior stand over all those who aren’t a part of their upper-class society. They are what those who believe in the American Dream strive to have. East Egg has an aura of perfection and achievement of the American Dream, “the white palaces… glittered along the water” showing what ‘achieving’ the American Dream could look like. White in The Great Gatsby represents plain and boring, which is exactly what East Egg is, they haven’t had to do anything they just live their life in money. They put all their effort into presenting the world immaculately, so much money that their house glitters along the water. They haven’t achieved the American Dream, they faked it, with presenting the world the best that money can buy, alluding to the fakeness of the American Dream. As the palaces are glittering it hides how plain and boring living the upper-class lifestyle it, hiding the masking the illusion of the American Dream. Living in East Egg is like living in a “distinguished secret society”, which only the upper class are a part of, they were born a part of the American Dream, born into the secret society, they know no different and can’t comprehend how somebody from West Egg could be a part of the same social position they are. Being part of a secret society shows how secluded the upper class is and how even after achieving the American Dream, those who have made their wealth won’t be a part of the society and never fulfilling the American Dream. They have created a bubble of what the American Dream looks like but will never accept those that are living the American Dream because in their eyes, those who have made their wealth on their own “are just big bootleggers” and aren’t to be associated with. The upper class hold a superior power over those outside of their ‘world’ making those outside inferior. East Egg faking the American Dream gives false help to those in West Egg who are so close to living the American Dream and false hope for everyone in the Valley of Ashes who once believed that they could live “a richer and fuller like”.

The Valley of Ashes represents the failed American Dream. The Valley of Ashes is where the working class lives, where they spend their lives day in, day out, just working and is located in between East and West Egg on the way to New York. No matter how hard they work they will never earn enough money to be even near the same social position as the upper class. They are trapped inside the walls that the Valley of Ashes forms, never being able to climb high enough to escape. The American Dream is an impossibility demonstrated by the Valley of Ashes. Inside the Valley of Ashes, “ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens” the ashes are the dead hopes and dreams of people who once believed in a possibility of a better life, and believed in the American Dream. So many people are trapped in the Valley of Ashes because they’ve stopped believing, they know now that the American Dream can only ever be a dream, their minds are clear of the illusion. The ashes completely shape the valley, forming hills and gardens, completely suffocating the land. Everywhere they look they see what they once thought was a possibility of a life but what in reality never was and never could be. The ashes don’t just take the form of the dead dreams of those that live there but also from the dead dreams of West Egg as well as New York, the people that live there have tainted the American Dream, putting all their lost hope into the Valley of Ashes. Moving all the lost hopes and dreams that form the ashes away from West Egg and New York, hides the illusion of the reality of the American Dream, keeping the illusion alive. Keeping the illusion alive lets the idea of the American Dream live on for generations to come, hiding what truly is the American Dream – just a dream. The Valley of Ashes is formed and landscaped by the dead dreams of those around them. Those who find themselves trapped in the grasp of the failure of the American dream “move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air”, they have accepted their fate that living in the Valley of Ashes is all they will ever know, they have stopped dreaming. They’ve lost hope and are now just walking lost souls waiting for the day to end. They’re already fading into the ashes, already aware of the illusion that is the American Dream. The ‘ashes’ have created a barrier, an impenetrable cloud, that they can’t past, so they don’t even try, moving dimly day by day. Ashe fill the atmosphere of the Valley of Ashes, they live and breath the reality of the American Dream – an impossibility. The American Dream can only ever be a dream, the Valley of Ashes is the representation of this. No matter how hard they work they’ll always be in the Valley of Ashes, it’s their home. They work hard and have legal businesses but that’s not good enough to break down the barrier that the Valley of Ashes forms. It’s a “desolate area of land”, a prison for the hard working, which is the unfair reality of the American Dream.

 

Essay Plans

Event Idea Evidence
Daisy + Gatsby’s Reunion How Daisy’s and Gatsby’s relationship is an illusion and could never be a reality, it impacted Gatsby as he saw that the possibility of their future isn’t as achievable as he once thought, he starts to lose sight of his dream with Daisy “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 Shows how Tom and Daisy’s relationship is built off materialism and shows how the rest of East Egg relationships are based off, “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 Shows how much Nick admired Gatsby, this impacted Nick as he realises that the life of the upper class isn’t a life he wants to live, which is why he went back home “Most of these reports were a nightmare, grotesque, circumstantial, eager and untrue”

“Gatsby turned out alright in the end”

 

Language Feature Idea Evidence
Connotative Illusion “Jordan’s slender golden arm”
Simile Illuson “fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat”
Metaphor Illusion “what a grotesque thing a rose is”
Language Feature Idea Evidence
Green Light   The green light represents hope and the possibility of Gatsby and Daisy’s relationship “Involuntarily I glanced seaward and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away”

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us”

Flowers Flowers represent somebodies true self and what they portray them self to be “shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is”

“you remind me of a rose – an absolute rose”

Daisy’s name?

Yellow Yellow represents fake and gold is pure/authentic “The orchestra is playing yellow cocktail music”“In a moment disappeared among the yellowing trees”
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

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.