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The Impact of Setting on Characters and Theme - The Great Gatsby

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Daniel Chen

on 6 May 2013

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Transcript of The Impact of Setting on Characters and Theme - The Great Gatsby

Effects of Setting The Setting Effects on Characters Nick Carraway America's development is mirrored through Gatsby's journey from poverty into a nouveau riche. Jay Gatsby It is set in the 1920s known as The Roaring Twenties It is set in the fictional setting of West Egg and East Egg, on Long Island, in North Eastern America The world had come out of a period of chaos, this leads to the ecstatic atmosphere of the new society Setting America entered Prohibition, creating a rise in black market activities. People replaced social classes with the new found belief of achieving equality through hard work; The American Dream. This was achieved by shedding the old world hierarchy of class systems. America was proceeding through an era of industrialism, resulting in a clear division amongst classes possessing different amounts of wealth. The Valley of Ashes joins the two Eggs, and houses the qualities of poverty and ugliness hidden by society. The fast paced lifestyle of the Roaring Twenties causes Nick to realise society's lack of morals, and makes him reconsider more traditional values. eg, honesty Effects on Theme The American Ideals Gatsby's mansion is a physical manifestation symbolizing the results of the American Dream. West Egg represents the nouveau riche while East Egg represents the Old Money, and this separation of Long Island shows America's struggle to shed their Old World values and adopt social equality. Due to Prohibition laws, the black market is exploited to achieve the American Dream The fact that Gatsby lives in West Egg shows that he is not truly adapted to his high class status. This is evident in the way he flaunts his wealth. American Ideals The Prohibition laws counteract against the new found American Ideals because it has little effect on the wealthy as they are able to continue with their consumption of alcohol, further separating the classes. Gatsby lies about his past because he is insecure about his class. This is due to the dominant role that class plays in the society in which he lives. A society where class inequality plays a dominant role in people's lives, further contributes to the motive of the American Dream. Characters like Wolfsheim are able to prey on people with the desire to achieve the American Dream, such as Gatsby and manipulate them. Daisy Buchanan Daisy is influenced by the overly glamorous lifestyle of the Roaring Twenties. Because of this she prioritizes wealth over any other aspect It is the war which separated Daisy from Gatsby that leads her to change mind and marry Tom instead of Gatsby, as she craved security. She remains a very flat and shallow character throughout the novel as she finds security from external sources such as wealth and clothes In the novel, Midwest America represents an authentic America whose values are old fashioned yet integral. At the end of the novel Nick returns to the Midwest, as he is disgusted by the immorality portrayed by the characters living on the East Coast, Long Island. Upper Class Hollowness The West and East egg of Long Island, depicted in the novel, highlights the difference in the American wealthy classes at the time. Upper Class Hollowness The New Riches of the West egg such as Jay Gatsby himself, are portrayed as people without taste nor social grace, they are not yet accustomed to their class and mistreat their privileges. This is shown by the lifestyle of Gatsby in which he wastes his wealth on unnecessary luxuries only for the purpose of showing off. This conveys the idea that the New Riches do not have the class to match their wealth and hold shallow perspectives. Though the Old Riches have class and taste, they prove to be arrogant and inconsiderate. They are pretentious and view others to be insignificant as they believe money is power. Link The Eggs of Long Island in the novel represent the wealthy class of America, thus symbolizing those who have achieved the American Dream. However, the Valley of Ashes plays a key role in the novel as it shows the decay of the American Dream. The original American Dream was to achieve happiness in the form of wealth, and the successful achievement of the American Dream is portrayed by the Eggs, whilst the Valley shows the decay of the American Dream where wealth is mistaken for happiness. Therefore although it appears that Gatsby has achieved the American dream, the true essence of the American Dream has already been lost and is what ultimately results in the tragic ending. This is exemplified by Buchanans' actions at the end of the novel where they believe relocating to another house far away would resolve their issues and would allow them to avoid Gatsby's funeral. This emphasizes the Old Riches' point of view of wealth being able to solve all problems
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