29th May 2017

Character

1. Describe three key characters and how they change in the novel.                                                 2. Explain what each character helped you to understand about illusion in the novel.


Nick Carraway: Nick is the main character and narrator of this novel and describes himself as being a non-judgemental person. He is a very quiet, tolerant and trusting with others secrets, which makes him the most suitable narrator out of the few main characters, but this doesn’t mean he was a good narrator. He is a very middle-class bloke who is thrust into the magnificent rich lives of others and their love affairs and secrets. He is shown to be the type of person to keep gossip to himself, rarely seen doing crazy out of his place things. Towards the beginning of the novel he finds himself getting drunk inside the hotel and later is cast as writing “The Great Gatsby” book itself, thus exposing all the secrets he has been told. As the narrator explaining his story, we only see through his eyes about the events unfolding around him and his observations on others. Nick is very intrigued about Gatsby in the beginning of the novel and over the course of the novel, grows more and more fond of Gatsby’s life and at times obsessive. He is shown to be very biased, portraying Tom negatively and Gatsby being favored over everyone else, mentioning ¨… his smile … having a quality of eternal reassurance¨. He becomes saddened through witnessing the slow crippling of Gatsby’s American Dream and loses his sense of calm while being caught in the fast revelries and rivalries of East Egg. ¨‘Whenever you feel like criticizing any one, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.’ Nick stands by this moral, taught from his father, the moral being kept in his mind, to prevent him from judging both lower and upper class. Not criticizing the lower class means being non-judgemental to such characters as Myrtle and Wilson, who both haven’t had the best privileges in life. Not criticizing the upper class means not mentioning their entire rich, uptight persona because they haven’t had the privilege of working hard for their wealth. Though he believes he holds this value throughout the story, he turns out to be criticizing everyone on their actions as the novel especially after Gatsbyś death, he begins to blame others for their ignorance, even calling Tom and Daisy ¨… careless people,… who smashed up things and creatures and retreated back to their money.¨. Though this quote is true he hasn’t been true to his morals by judging their choices to not communicate with Gatsby before and after his death. He even comments on Jordan after he tells him that he has no feelings for him, Nick comments that ¨I thought you were an honest, straightforward person. I thought it was your secret pride.¨. Nick now disagrees with these statements and gives her a bitter goodbye. Throughout the novel, he believes this illusion and Gatsbyś magic spell works itś effect, but at his funeral after meeting Gatsbyś father, he learns of his true name – James Gatz – and the illusion disappears. The illusion uncovers that he grew up very poor, dreaming of a better life, the American dream. To achieve this he decided to create a fake rehearsed story of a fake persona a new person desired from his younger self, involving neglecting and being ashamed of his parents because they are lower class. Jay Gatsby is created, with it the illusion that his family was wealthy but now dead, he was once a heroic war veteran and a German spy. Though once Nick learns of Gatsby’s true past, that he was very poor at a young age, creating an illusion of his life and obtaining his wealth through being bootlegger, he still remains faithful to Gatsby 2 years later, after his death because of this portrayal of Gatsby being “great” in his novel.


Jay Gatsby:
Jay Gatsby is one of the main characters in this novel. He is a young, wealthy businessman living in West Egg, Long Island, residing in an enormous mansion attracting visitors of all sorts to his extravagant parties. In the beginning, Nick paints a picture of Gatsby as a legendary, dashing and incredible man who catches the attention of all, those who want to uncover the mystery of the great Gatsby, as he rarely meets people. Gatsby grasps onto the hope of being with Daisy through a beaming green light by the Buchanan’s across the bay, infatuating him, Gatsby grows more and more obsessive of achieving this unrealistic romance with Daisy to the point of the obsession, hope for Daisy being the overall cause of his own death. His ambitions are only a cover that the 17-year-old James Gatz would have wanted and by creating this new, desirable life he led himself into his own trap. Only three people attended his funeral, which tells you that despite the raging parties and thriving social life, he soon learns that because his life is a lie, so are his many friends whose names tell their true intentions, animals, predators using Gatsby as their own social advantages. Before Gatsby’s death, Nick quotes that “He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass. A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, This quote tells that though Daisy did admire him, he saw the beauty on the outside and this led into his own illusion that he can be with Daisy, when in fact it is shown that along with not being “Daisy hadn’t sent a message or a flower”. Daisy is Gatsby’s trap, she is a rose disguised as a Daisy and once Gatsby touches that rose he finally changes and sees that the rose is vicious and grotesque with thorns coated its stem. He sees how raw the sunlight means that he finally sees the world through new eyes, and how raw and unrealistic this romance with Daisy really is. Gatsby grows less and less hopeful of his committed dream to be with Daisy and while his lies that make up his life, he realizes that this American Dream is corrupted. By making his money illegally he boosted up from bottom to upper class and with this managed to sustain a false life, his own illusion of being rich and legendary, “great” when his true self died a very long time ago which explains in the quote mentioned before that the poor ghosts breathed dreams like air. He dreamed of this American Dream so much that he breathed it and with time the 16-year-old Gatsby faded away like a ghost.


Daisy Buchanan:
Daisy is one of the main characters in the novel. Daisy draws Gatsby in through her beauty and innocence. Though remaining with Tom, in the end, Daisy is usually found to be flirtatiously romanticizing with Gatsby and being unfaithful to Tom. Daisy is shown to be very like the flower of which her name resides, cream white, innocent and perfectly pretty and is shown to be very much involved with the color white. Her being very popular among other men only creates more temptation to Gatsby. She dresses in white often and though and be related to purity she actually is a very dull and empty character with little control of her emotions, which we find out in chapter seven. In a scene during Gatsby and Daisy’s reunion, she says that “It makes me sad… because I’ve never seen such beautiful shirts before.” While sobbing and very emotional, this quote reveals just how materialistic and bland of character she is because in order for her to reveal her true emotions about the 5-year gap since Gatsby and Daisy have seen each other she needs to refer to a materialistic object, shirts. The shirts mean that she has never seen Gatsby’s shirts before because she has never seen him wear them over the course of the 5-year separation. Nick states “That was it. I’d never understood before. It was full of money -that was the inexhaustible charm” Daisy’s voice is full of money because her wealth and upper class are ingrained in her, from her personality to her voice. There are many references to flowers in the novel particularly Nick pointing out that Gatsby’s garden contains “…..midsummer flowers.” Gatsby fills his garden and places throughout the house, all sorts of flowers, hawthorn, plum blossoms, roses and lavenders, none of which are daisies because there is only one Daisy in his life that truly matters. She must choose between Gatsby and Tom and through this decision cannot manage to keep herself together during the hotel scene in chapter seven, in which conflicts are resolved, Nick states that Gatsby was “struggling unhappily, undespairingly, toward that lost voice across the room.” This lost voice is referring to Daisy’s pleading from them to leave the room because she cannot handle the tension and stress, she is lost. Eventually, she chooses Tom, and by doing so, has taken Gatsby’s dreams with her, leaving him stranded and helpless with no green light to shine near Daisy’s dock.There is another flower reference later on when Nick talks about Gatsby’s realization of Daisy “…as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass…” Daisy can be seen as a rose, on the outside beautiful, elegant and perfect but once Gatsby tries to get close to her she pricks him with her thorns. He now realizes just how dangerous and painful Daisy is, seeing how raw the sunlight is, the unpleasantness of the world.

3. Describe the three important relationships in the text and explain what they revealed about illusion. Use quotes to support your answer.

Daisy and Tom: “… in a rather distinguished secret society to which she and Tom belonged.” Tom and Daisy belonged to their own “society” separating everybody else from it, sharing their own secrets. But this is an illusion because if their relationship was a distinguished society it would be heavily segregated as neither is faithful to the other. On the outside they seem like the perfect married couple, the couple envied among many for there being such wealth shared among the two, a luxurious house and a lovely daughter. However, the illusion is unmasked when we begin to see the false, the faults and the flaws of Tom and Daisy’s marriage. First, the relationship largely comprises of infidelity, both members of this society having affairs and hiding their past from the other.  “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy -they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and then let other people clean up the mess they had made… “ Throughout the end half of the novel, Nick paints Tom and Daisy in a negative light, exposing them as careless people, indulging ear own selfish needs, only referring to others as creatures this convincing the reader to think Tom and Daisy are the true monsters of this novel. Nick tears this perfect image that Tom and Daisy are seen as, blaming Daisy and Tom for Gatsby’s death because of Tom’s selfishness to remain in their dysfunctional relationship because his mistress Myrtle involved in his second relationship is no longer with him.

Daisy and Gatsby: Before Tom and Daisy have married Gatsby and Daisy secured a relationship because “she was the first “nice girl” he had ever known” nice being quotated because she isn’t a very nice person in Nick’s view. Gatsby was tempted to Daisy because of the popularity that she held over other men, which made her a treasure, a trophy he wanted to win. Eventually “she vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life, leaving Gatsby — nothing.” Gatsby was left unsure if Daisy had really loved her through this whole time they spent together and wishes to relive the past that was taken away from him thus creating this green light shining at the end of the dock. Gatsby’s illusion has been created mainly for his dreams of being with Daisy, but little does he know this relationship is an illusion itself. Daisy now has a husband, Tom whom with shares a baby named Pammy, therefore, their relationship cannot work and is just an illusion that Gatsby believes in. He realizes towards the end that he cannot be with Daisy in the quote, “He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass.” This is Gatsby’s realization that his relationship with Daisy is an illusion realizing how unfamiliar it feels to not be inside his own illusion, his spell, it’s frightening to him just how grotesque a rose (Daisy’s true form, thorn covered and painful when touched) is and the raw sunlight on the scarce grass, a new view of the world he left behind at sixteen.

Myrtle and George:  “He had discovered that Myrtle had some sort of life apart from him in another world, and the shock had made him physically sick.” This quote said by Nick perfectly captions the obscure relationship between Myrtle and George, both being in the lower class they live in a small apartment building attached to George’s garage of which Tom frequently visits to fix his car and see Myrtle. Their relationship is an illusion because of the subsequent shame Myrtle puts on George by dressing in vivid upper-class dresses to impress Tom when he visits the garage alongside Nick in chapter two. “…walking through her husband as if he were a ghost, shook hands with Tom, looking him flush in the eye.” Myrtle treats her husband like a ghost around Tom, ordering him around to fetch chairs while impressing Tom by looking him flush in the eye. “Beat me… throw me down and beat me, you dirty little coward!” George eventually is seen to be abusive to her shortly before Myrtle’s death resulting in her running into Gatsby’s car thinking Tom is driving screaming for him to take her away from the misery that fills her life. Myrtle deserved empathy from others that she never received, though she as seen as the mistress one of two people attempting to tear Tom and Daisy’s relationship apart, it is Tom who is constantly using taking advantage of her passiveness being aggressive and abusing her during a scene in chapter two. Tom visits George’s garage seemingly to refuel his flashy cars but instead wants to arrange romantic affairs in New York with Myrtle as George is too busy being manipulated by Myrtle. Ultimately it is Myrtle herself who causes her own tragedy, her desperation to mold into the upper class, escaping her relationship with George to live her own illusion. She is pitiful and put out of her misery, and her dreams like Gatsby’s- to be with the upper class disappear and George must consequently suffer from her actions.

 

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Lucas, you have some strong ideas about Nick’s journey in here. As we have discussed as a class:
    – Reorganise your paragraph to reflect the chronological journey of Nick.
    – Expand on the “post Gatsby” Nick- how did his death effect him?

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