30th May 2017

Great Gatsby : Characters

Describe three key characters and how they change in the novel

Jay Gatsby – Gatsby is a wealthy young man living in West Egg where all the new money is. He is famous for all of his massive parties. He is a mystery to everyone at the start of the book, no one knows anything about him rumours swirl about him but nobody knows what is true. He starts off very open about himself and his story, but it seems very rehearsed. Throughout the book, though you start to find cracks in the well-rehearsed story. Nick later in the story learns about Gatsby and how he was never rich, he grew up in poverty and made all his money through illegal business. He did all of this in hopes of winning over Daisy the love of his life. When he sees Daisy for the first time in 5 years his guard is dropped almost completely. The possibility becomes a reality to him and he will do anything to keep it that way. We see Gatsby’s hope for him and Daisy to be together through the green light. “far away he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward–and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and faraway, that might have been the end of a dock”. The green light symbolises hope, but it’s minute and far away indicating that there wasn’t much chance of that happening in reality. In the end of the book, Gatsby finally realises that he and Daisy will never be together after she doesn’t call him. He is back to being a poor man in the sense he has nothing to wake up to that makes him happy.

Nick Caraway – Nick is the narrator of the whole story. He comes from a reasonably rich family in Minnesota and is cousins with Daisy Buchanan. He moves to New York to become a ‘bonds’, man. Nick is honest, kind and inclined not to judge therefore he is often the person people are trusting with their secrets as implied in this quote from his father”whenever you feel like criticizing anyone … just remember that they haven’t had the same advantages you have”Throughout  At the beginning of the book Nicks judgement is withdrawn only telling the story from the events that are happening with no judgement or emotion attached. The advice his father gave him shows evidence of this.He didn’t let the possessions and materialistic objects dominate his life unlike those around him who, Fitzgerald did this because it paints Nick as the perfect narrator because his thoughts are true. When Nick meets Gatsby he is shy and anti social only meeting with his family once, but as he knows Gatsby better he meets new people and attends more parties he is slowly getting drawn into their lifestyle and become more confident instead of just observing from an outsiders perspective. He starts denying to himself the fact that he is now judgmental of the people around him and keeps percieving himself as he was at the beginning of the book.

Daisy Buchanan- Daisy is a young woman who comes from a wealthy family in Louisiana she is cousins with Nick Carraway. Daisy is Gatsby’s single obsession, They met before he was going to war and fell in love.She promised him that she would wait for him but succumbed to the pressure from her parents to marry.She married Tom Buchanan a man from a well to do family and they now have a daughter Pammy together. Daisy comes across as pure, innocent, she has a charm that enchants the people around her and could be described as the model of a perfect upper-class woman.In reality, the beauty and enchantment are hiding the fact that she is truly a shallow person who only cares about money, she seems bored in this perfect life, she is only an arrogant and bitter person only caring about the materialistic objects she can have. There is evidence of this when she breaks down in tears at Gatsby’s house as they throw shirts around the room saying”what beautiful shirts.” The shirts represent the fact that Gatsby now has plenty of money to provide to her needs and wants, this has daisy confused because Gatsby has almost the same amount of money as Tom which has Daisy wondering about who can make her truly happy because they can both provide her with the materialistic objects she desires.She chooses to have a summer romance with Gatsby indulging in everything he can give her, but it was just that a summer romance that in reality, she knew would never amount to anything.She proves this when she and Gatsby go to the hotel room in the city but Daisy backs out because she realises a life with Tom allows her have all the things she wants without the emotion and being attached to a proper upper-class man. Then she was done with him, she didn’t call him as she said she would or even attend his funeral she was completely careless which Nick had figured out when he says “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…”She smashed up Gatsby and Nicks lifestyle and then retreated back to her money and her social status with Tom, instead of attending Gatsby’s funeral.

Describe three important relationships in the text and explain what they revealed about illusion

Nick and Gatsby- The relationship that Nick and Gatsby had was quite difficult to understand.It was brief only lasting 3 months(the start of summer to the end, when Gatsby died)But Nick had a strong connection to Gatsby.The moment Nick met Gatsby he was drawn into Gatsby’s illusion and lifestyle, he said“He smiled understandingly, much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in your life.” The smile was the first part of Gatsby’s illusion that drew Nick in.Smiles can often be faked though, the part of face he should be focusing on are the eyes because all the times in the book eyes have been described, it has been the truth.Nick believed in the truth of Gatsby, he believed in his smile which was just one perfected part of gatsby’s illusion.

Gatsby and Daisy – Daisy and Gatsby’s relationship was destined to fail. They started their relationship when she was sought after by many officers, she fell in love with Jay Gatsby when in reality he was Jay Gats from a poor upbringing, the fact that Gatsby was so in love with Daisy drove him to take his persona even further and become a part of her upper-class lifestyle.The illusion Gatsby created was nothing if Daisy wasn’t a part of it, He wouldn’t have his elaborate parties or ever became friends with Nick if it wasn’t for his hope to be with Daisy.Daisy never shut down his dream instead dangling the hope in front of him.Hope is represented in the book by the colour green,(due to the green light at the start of the book) “Just mention my name, Or present a green card, I’m giving out green.” This is an example of Daisy giving out hope.

Gatsby and Daisy’s relationship was fake because Daisy fell in love with Jay Gatsby a rich man who came from a wealthy family, good education and was a part of the upper-class society she had to be apart of.During their summer together Gatsby was trying to recreate the past of him and Daisy even though she is married and has a child.At the end of their summer together all Gatsby wants is for Daisy to tell Tom she never loved him and that their relationship was a lie, but she can’t admit that to him because she did love Tom and the life he provided her with.The emotions she had towards Gatsby are fake.After Gatsby’s death, Nick said that“She vanished into her rich house, into her rich life, full life, leaving Gatsby – nothing”. This was the fall of Gatsby and Daisy’s illusion. Daisy carried on with life as if nothing had happened, she led him to his death and retreated back to her materialistic lifestyle which made her feel full inside.Gatsby was dead and so was his hope to be with Daisy

Tom and Myrtle- Tom and Myrtle’s relationship was an illusion because it was based on Toms need for excitement and Myrtle’s desperation to be a part of the rich lifestyle. They couldn’t be in seen in public because she was a working class woman and Tom is an upper-class businessman, so he rents an apartment in the city where they go to have their affair and where they can act if they are in a relationship.They live an illusion in this apartment acting as if they are a real couple.She acts as if she and Tom are in a real relationship that people can see and know about, a life where she wears pretty dresses and indulges in alcohol.“Then she flounced over to the dog, kissed it with ecstasy, and swept into the kitchen, implying that a dozen chefs awaited her orders.”Myrtle acts life like she is always part of the wealthy lifestyle indulging in all of its advantages but in reality, she doesn’t and is going home to George her low class working husband.

Explain what each character helped you understand about illusion in the novel.

Jay Gatsby – Gatsby is a true illusionist in the novel.He helped us understand the illusion of hope and the green light.The green light at the end of Daisy’s dock represented the hopes that Gatsby of him and Daisy being in love and together once again like they had been before he went to fight in the war.Sometimes the light and close and other times it was minute and far away. In times when it was small, he still believed but not very strongly, when it was large and clear he was confident that he and Daisy would be together.During the times the light was clear was also when Nick and Gatsby believed most strongly in his illusion. At times the light was covered in fog or mist symbolising him and Daisy’s past and the fact that he can’t get it back, however, he still believes he can recreate his past with her

Nick Carraway- Nick is the main character of the story. He brings the illusion to our attention throughout the novel.We see Nick as the person who is living in reality opposed to the other characters who are living in an illusion.Fitzgerald wrote Nick as a non-judgmental character but he was truly naive when it came to Gatsby and the Buchanans. He was a believer but the people who surrounded him were liars.The illusion that Nick shows us is the illusion of a truthful kind person. He said he was inclined not to judge because of his father’s advice” whenever you feel like criticizing anyone … just remember that they haven’t had the same advantages you have” This added to the illusion of Nick being the moral character in the story, but further through the story we learnt he wasn’t as moral as he thought he was.Like all the other characters Nick is portrayed as his ideal self which is an illusion.

Daisy Buchanan- Daisy is a character who’s relationships are based off materialistic ideals.She prioritises money so when it comes to her relationships they are based on the person’s social status and their wealth. Fitzgerald paints daisy as the ‘golden girl who is pure and innocent. But in reality, she is careless only looking out her for herself because of her wealth she is blind to the consequences of her actions but knows what she is doing isn’t right. Her illusion is shown through the colour white“Their house was even more elaborate than I expected, a cheerful red−and−white Georgian Colonial mansion, overlooking the bay.” This quote incorporates the colour white, the white comes across pure and grand, but the white truly represents the loneliness and emptiness.She isn’t innocent and she isn’t a fool, she sees how the world works but refuses to believe it. That’s why when her daughter is born she guttered its a girl being born into this world because she doesn’t want her to go through the same life she has, so she covers it up by saying”I’m glad it’s a girl.And I hope she’ll be a fool that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” Another thing is white isn’t truly a colour it’s a shade, it’s see through and bland just like Daisy.

Jay Gatsby- Jay Gatsby shows us illusion because he is an illusion altogether. We as readers don’t know this though until the first crack in his illusion appears.He has created the persona of Jay Gatsby because a well-educated man from a wealthy family who throws extravagant parties, he hopes that one day he and Daisy will be together as they were before he went to war and this obsession is what drives his persona every day.Although he does most of this for Daisy he also states that he was never born for a poor life and wanted more as said in this quote by Nick )“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…” this refers to the fact that he wanted more as well as the fact that  Plato was a Greek philosopher who looked at the real world versus the ideal world. James Gatz is a real person and Jay Gatsby is his ideal self. Gatsby’s life is a stage and he is just rehearsing on it, he knows all of his lines, this is until he is reunited with Daisy and he begins to make small cracks get revealed.He has built up an image of himself that he cannot maintain when people start looking into him or have significant meaning to him

.He helped us understand the illusion of hope and the green light.The green light at the end of Daisy’s dock represented the hopes that Gatsby of him and Daisy being in love and together once again like they had been before he went to fight in the war.Sometimes the light and close and other times it was minute and far away. In times when it was small, he still believed but not very strongly, when it was large and clear he was confident that he and Daisy would be together.During the times the light was clear was also when Nick and Gatsby believed most strongly in his illusion. At times the light was covered in fog or mist symbolising his and Daisy’s past and the fact that he can’t get it back, however, he still believes he can recreate his past with her. When it is said in the book“You can’t repeat the past?’ He cried incredulously. ‘Why of course you can!” He genuinely believes that he can recreate his past with Daisy.Gatsby has lived his life with the single dream of him and Daisy being together, he was so obsessed with his dream he spent years living through a story and not really living life.

 

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Make sure that you “weave” your quotes throughout your paragraph. You want small snippets that support your ideas rather than one really large one that you have to unpack at the end. For each comment or idea you have around Gatsby, think about how you know this about him. What was it in the book that made you think this? That is the quote you should be writing down.

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