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The Great Gatsby

Mrs. Oloya
by

Madalyn Oloya

on 5 February 2010

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Transcript of The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby Main Characters Nick Carraway
The novel’s narrator, Nick is a young man from Minnesota who, after being educated at Yale and fighting in World War I, goes to New York City to learn the bond business. Honest, tolerant, and inclined to reserve judgment, Nick often serves as a confidant for those with troubling secrets. After moving to West Egg, a fictional area of Long Island that is home to the newly rich, Nick quickly befriends his next-door neighbor, the mysterious Jay Gatsby. Jay Gatsby
The title character and protagonist of the novel, Gatsby is a fabulously wealthy young man living in a Gothic mansion in West Egg. He is famous for the lavish parties he throws every Saturday night, but no one knows where he comes from, what he does, or how he made his fortune. Nick views Gatsby as a deeply flawed man whose extraordinary optimism and power to transform his dreams into reality make him “great” nonetheless. Daisy Buchanan
Nick’s cousin. As a young woman in Louisville before the war, Daisy was courted by a number of officers. Daisy harbors a deep need to be loved, and a powerful young man named Tom Buchanan asked her to marry him. Now a beautiful socialite, Daisy lives with Tom across from Gatsby in the fashionable East Egg district of Long Island. She is bitter and somewhat cynical, and behaves superficially to mask her pain at her husband’s constant infidelity. Tom Buchanan
Daisy’s immensely wealthy husband, once a member of Nick’s social club at Yale. Powerfully built and hailing from a socially solid old family, Tom is an arrogant, hypocritical bully. His social attitudes are laced with racism and sexism, and he never even considers trying to live up to the moral standard he demands from those around him. Themes The Decline of the American Dream in the 1920s

On the surface, The Great Gatsby is a story of the thwarted love between a man and a woman. The Great Gatsby is a highly symbolic meditation on 1920s America as a whole, in particular the disintegration of the American dream in an era of unprecedented prosperity and material excess. Fitzgerald portrays the 1920s as an era of decayed social and moral values, evidenced in its overarching cynicism, greed, and empty pursuit of pleasure and money.
The Hollowness of the Upper Class

One of the major topics explored in The Great Gatsby is the sociology of wealth, specifically, how the newly minted millionaires of the 1920s differ from and relate to the old aristocracy of the country’s richest families. In the novel, West Egg and its residents represent the newly rich, while East Egg and its residents, especially Daisy and Tom, represent the old aristocracy. Fitzgerald portrays the newly rich as being vulgar, gaudy, ostentatious, and lacking in social graces and taste. In contrast, the old aristocracy possesses grace, taste, subtlety, and elegance, epitomized by the Buchanans’ tasteful home and the flowing white dresses of Daisy and Jordan Baker. What the old aristocracy possesses in taste, however, it seems to lack in heart, as the East Eggers prove themselves careless, inconsiderate bullies who are so used to money’s ability to ease their minds that they never worry about hurting others. Gatsby, on the other hand, whose recent wealth derives from criminal activity, has a sincere and loyal heart.
Motifs
Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.
Geography
Throughout the novel, places and settings epitomize the various aspects of the 1920s American society that Fitzgerald depicts. East Egg represents the old aristocracy, West Egg the newly rich, the valley of ashes the moral and social decay of America, and New York City the uninhibited, amoral quest for money and pleasure. Additionally, the East is connected to the moral decay and social cynicism of New York, while the West (including Midwestern and northern areas such as Minnesota) is connected to more traditional social values and ideals.
Weather
The weather in The Great Gatsby unfailingly matches the emotional and narrative tone of the story.
Symbols:
objects, characters, figures, and colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
The Green Light
Situated at the end of Daisy’s East Egg dock and barely visible from Gatsby’s West Egg lawn, the green light represents Gatsby’s hopes and dreams for the future. Gatsby associates it with Daisy, and in Chapter 1 he reaches toward it in the darkness as a guiding light to lead him to his goal. Because Gatsby’s quest for love is broadly associated with the American dream, the green light also symbolizes that more generalized ideal. Nick compares the green light to how America, rising out of the ocean, must have looked to early settlers of the new nation.
The Valley of Ashes
The valley of ashes between West Egg and New York City consists of a long stretch of desolate land created by the dumping of industrial ashes. It represents the moral and social decay that results from the uninhibited pursuit of wealth, as the rich indulge themselves with regard for nothing but their own pleasure. The valley of ashes also symbolizes the plight of the poor who live among the dirty ashes and lose their vitality as a result.
The Eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg
The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are a pair of fading, bespectacled eyes painted on an old advertising billboard over the valley of ashes. They may represent God staring down upon and judging American society as a moral wasteland, though the novel never makes this point explicitly. Instead, throughout the novel, Fitzgerald suggests that symbols only have meaning because characters instill them with meaning. The connection between the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg and God exists only in George Wilson’s grief-stricken mind. This lack of concrete significance contributes to the unsettling nature of the image. Thus, the eyes also come to represent the essential meaninglessness of the world and the arbitrariness of the mental process by which people invest objects with meaning. Nick explores these ideas when he imagines Gatsby’s final thoughts as a depressed consideration of the emptiness of symbols and dreams.
Ch. 1 Vocab gruff
Acute Reproach Wistfully Supercilious Effeminate
Fractiousness Vista
Pungent Censure
Scorn Contempt Bring Your Book Tomorrow!
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