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The Great Gatsby: Setting, Irony, and Diction/ Syntax

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Joe Iassogna

on 26 September 2013

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Transcript of The Great Gatsby: Setting, Irony, and Diction/ Syntax

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East Egg
East Egg represents the old money/ aristocracy.
Although they did not have the American dream of hard work and perseverance, they were living it
The sun rises in the East, which is one reason why the old money suits the area. Those in old money once had family who pursued the dream and were successful in attaining it through effort and diligence.
This is what brought the original American dream to life. Actually seeing people reaching their potential in the "land of opportunity".
The people of East Egg maintained the same elegance and taste of those who came before in the more Victorian age lifestyles. This attracted people from the start causing the sun of hope and the American dream to rise. Eventually the sun has to set though, occurring in the West.
Those of this area also hold education and learning in high esteem as they believe education not only makes them successful, but superior to the working class and others as well.
"Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water [...] their house was even more elaborate than I expected, a cheerful red-and-white Georgian Colonial Mansion, overlooking the bay."(5-6)
"'It's all scientific stuff; it's been proved.' 'Tom's getting very profound,' said Daisy, with an expression of unthoughtful sadness. 'He reads deep books with long words in them'" (13)
"Her voice was full of money" This shows the wealth, her education, and how she has grown accustomed to being wealthy and one can tell simply from her speech
At a Gatsby party, a group from East Egg: "A whole clan named Blackbuck, who always gathered in a corner and flipped up their noses at whosover came near" (62).
The people in East Egg also didn't have to work for their money and weren't willing to work, which is like the East coast on a whole, shown by people like Myrtle and the McKee couple who simply try to act rich and important without putting in real effort to become wealthy.
West Egg
West Egg represents the newly rich people who have acquired their wealth personally
As East Egg was where the sun (the original hope and ideals of the American Dream) rose, this sun set in West Egg.
As illustrated by Gatsby and his lavish parties, people began to discard the tastefulness of the East Egg and desired to be a part of the constant "party" in West Egg. They wanted the ability to be carefree and not be constrained by the "proper" old way of the wealthy life
This is the setting of the sun that had risen from the old money. The hope and American Dream underwent a shift in the 1920's and consumerism took over. People wanted the mansions, the parties, and the Rolls-Royce cars. This new idea and thing to strive for was led mainly be greed.
Also Gatsby, the main illustration of West Egg life, did not receive his money by a lot of hard and honest work, but through bootlegging and gambling. In this way the sun set, crowding out old ideals and letting in the new, allowing for the dawning of a new dream
Gatsby, to fit the part of the rich, allowed people to believe he was a graduate of Oxford, and bought a great amount of books, which surprised the "owl-eyed" man in that they were real. In fact Gatsby barely went to college, staying a semester and then dropping out because the janitorial work he had to do disgusted him. He learned from Dan Cody instead of formal education. This difference in education is also shown by those that Gatsby acquaints himself with, like Wolfsheim, who is also undereducated, but was still able to make a fortune
"I lived at West Egg, the- well the less fashionable of the two" (5)
"[Daisy] was appalled by West Egg, this unprecedented 'place' the Broadway had begotten upon a Long Island fishing village- appalled by its raw vigor that chafed under the old euphemisms and by the too obtrusive fate that herded it inhabitants along a short cut from nothing to nothing" (107)
"It was sharply different from the West, where an evening was hurried from phase to phase toward it close, in a continually disappointed anticipation or else in sheer nervous dread of the moment itself." (12)
"I see [West Egg] as a night scene from El Greco: A hundred houses, at once conventional and grotesque, crouching under a sullen, overhanging sky, and a lusterless moon. In the foreground four solemn men in dress suits are walking along the sidewalk with a stretcher on which lies a drunken woman in a white evening dress. Her hand, which dangles over the side, sparkles cold with jewels. Gravely the men turn in at a house—the wrong house. But no one knows the woman’s name, and no one cares" (176)
Valley of Ashes
The area between West Egg in New York, just as they are the people who are lost between wealth/ attaining the dream and being the working class that holds up the wealthy community
They have lost the ideals of hard-work amid this decline (shown through Myrtle)
People here are overcome by greed and are driven by a selfish desire for wealth
The "ashes" are the broken dreams and the fallen/ destroyed American dream
The one thing that watches over the valley and its inhabitants are the eyes of TJ Eckleberg, which represents how commercialism and wealth reign above the people in the Valley. The eyes and commercialism illustrate how the drive for money decayed the dream, and the people of the valley are constantly reminded of it and "watched" by it. Commercialism is constantly in their thoughts
Also, it is called the "Valley" of ashes. A valley is the region of land between two mounds or mountains.
To one side is the mountain of people and dreams in New York City, where work and hope comes from. This is also where the characters go to spend time and live lavishly.
The other mountain is that of West Egg, the land of new money and self acquired wealth.
The valley is in the middle. They came from the land of hard work and promise, yet could not scale the mountain of West Egg, and were stuck at the bottom.
A valley is the ominous and dismal area at the bottom of some great peak, and this is where those who left hard work in a failing attempt to reach wealth and a life of luxury.
Its also an area for the poor who are used and exploited by the rich, like Tom Abused George and Myrtle, they are "Burned" out by the rich for their own ends, and are also surrounded by destroyed dreams
"Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry" (88).
“I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all--Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.” Chapter 9
They could not adapt to the "newer, more modern" way of living, they were accustomed to the style of life in the Midwest, and the fast paced New York City ruined them.
Nick was used to having people know him in his home town as the Carraway family had been prominent. he recalls this n page three, relaying that "My family had been prominent, well-to-do people in this Middle Western city for three generations"
Always resorted to their past, and this past was the past they had out west. Ex. Gatsby & Daisy
“For Daisy was young and her artificial world was redolent of orchids and pleasant, cheerful snobbery and orchestras which set the rhythm of the year, summing up the sadness and suggestiveness of life in new tunes... there were always rooms that throbbed incessantly with this low, sweet fever, while fresh faces drifted here and there like rose petals blown by the sad horns around the floor.” PG NUMBER
"He talked a lot about the past, and i gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was...." (110).
past was from west
trying to build/recreate a life he had lost in the west
even though he’s trying to move on, he’s still holding on to parts of the west
"Instead of being the warm center of the world the middle west now seemed like the ragged edge of the universe" (3)
Nick's opinion changed throughout book as he saw the corruptness of the east.
He ends up returning home.
“Even when the east excited me most, even when I was most keenly aware of its superiority to the bored, sprawling swollen towns beyond the Ohio, which spared only the children and the very old-even then it had always for me a quality of distortion” (176).
Children and very old spared because they weren’t in the 1920’s generation
New York City
This is the area in which people work, and the "Fruit" of the labor is East and West Egg, in that those who made themselves in NYC are able to live in the Egg, thus the city "laid its egg"
The egg is the product of work in the city, and so this is how the work pays off
The valley is a "nest" of sorts that the egg sits in (It is between the city and West Egg) As people in the eggs use and exploit those in the valley. They rest upon their backs and the work that they do.
The work done in the valley and city support those who are rich and wealthy, and the wealthy simply take their benefits. The reason those in the valley and city continue to work is to get higher up in the hierarchy
Yet, New York is also the center, as it is where people work and it is where they go for enjoyment, making it a hub of sorts.
This hub is what has brought about the decline in American values, as people see that people were able to make themselves in the city, and form a life in West Egg, and so they want that lavishness, especially as they see people flaunt their wealth in the City.
The City represents the new, fast paced life of America, and idea that has not yet really hit the mid-west, and so it changes the westerners, ultimately ruining them.
The Great Gatsby: Setting; Irony; and Diction/ Syntax

Wilson killing Gatsby presents an air of dramatic irony as Wilson thought Gatsby to be the murder of his wife, while it was in fact Daisy
American Dream that people strove for was to become wealthy and live an almost carefree and happy lifestyle, yet all examples of those who are rich are far from happy. In the beginning, Tom states "'I've got a nice place here,' he said, his eyes flashing about restlessly.", or when Daisy , part of a wealthy family was to be married into the powerful Buchanan family, began to cry and didn't want to be married. Nick also states that "her face was sad" on page 9. Gatsby also was not satisfied with his wealth, as what he truly desired was Daisy
"By God, I may old fashioned in my ideas, but women these days run around too much to suit me" (103)
Tom saying this is ironic because he is the one "running around" and that Myrtle, his mistress is also "running around" to be with Tom. He is hypocritical as he states he is against cheating, yet he cheats and encourages another woman to.
Gatsby builds up Daisy in his mind and goes to extravagant measures to impress her, but she turns out to be shallow and doesn't live up to his idealizations
"Gatsby had an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness I never found in another person"
This is dramatic irony because the reader can see daisy's shallowness (EX. in how she acts with her child) but Gatsby is too clouded by his own judgement to see that before their first meeting.
By his first encounter with Daisy, Gatsby was left disappointed. "As I went over to say goodbye I saw that the expression of bewilderment had come back to Gatsby's face, as though a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness. Almost five years! There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of hid dreams- not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of the illusion" (95)
Also, although Nick calls the West the "ragged edge of the universe, he still searches for a home in New York that reminds him of it. "The practical thing was to find rooms in the city, but it was a warm season, and I had just left the country of wide lawns and friendly trees, so when a young man at the office suggested that we take a house together in a commuting town, it sounded like a great idea." (3)
Also, when Gatsby was alive, he was wildly popular because of his parties, yet once he died, nobody knew him nor did they want to even think of attending. They used him as a stepping stone to make themselves seem more important. The parties allowed for people to live the new American dream and people were able to appear rich at the parties and talk with rich people so that they could feel like they could escape their real lives. It also showed that a man they could look up to, a man who was able to take the American dream for himself , could die and was vulnerable. This showed that his wealth couldn't save him and that the dreams of these people could also die.
Diction and Syntax
Nick being the narrator has the leading point of view, however the author makes his role smaller than the characters which he tells about, in that he isn't truly the center of attention in the story. Though the story does follow him, wherever he is or goes, he tells about other people.
Author's overall style from Nick's point of view is judgemental. Although Nick does state that he tries not to judge people due to the advice given to him by his father, he later states on page 2 (after his initial statement on open-mindedness) that “ I come to the admission that it has a limit. Conduct may be founded on the hard rock or on the wet marshes, but at a certain point I don’t care what it’s founded on” He also states "I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known" (58)
Nick judges everyone he comes into contact with throughout the novel. For Tom, he states in the beginning that "It was a body capable of enormous leverage, a cruel body" (7), when going out to lunch with Gatsby he makes numerous comments, like "He was balancing himself on the dashboard of his car with that resourcefulness of movement that is so peculiarly American—that comes, I suppose, with the absence of lifting work or rigid sitting in youth and, even more, with the formless grace of our nervous, sporadic games. This quality was continually breaking through his punctilious manner in the shape of restlessness" (64), or "I knew why Jordan Baker had believed he was lying"
When with Myrtle and the McKee couple, he described Mr. McKee as "A pale, feminine man [...] his wife was shrill, languid, handsome, and horrible" (30).
By the end, he declares that "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made" (179)
Fitzgerald's diction used when Wolfsheim is speaking, shows the character's lack of higher education, illustrating how he was not old money and how he was a member of the working class. This further shows that those of the West Egg are not like those of the East due to education, because Gatsby affiliates with people who aren't of old money and are undereducated.
Fitzgerald also employs long sentence structures with a lot of punctuation marks so that one sentence may begin in one place and end in another.
Fitzgerald is also extremely descriptive in this work describing each character and setting in immense detail both through showing and telling.
The diction utilized in the story also, while giving long descriptions of things, is able to ensnare depths of meaning beyond what the few words could normally do. In short phrases, merely parts of sentences, Fitzgerald's word choice gives immense meaning to people and things. In the simple phrase, "her voice is full of money", you can see the ideas of education, old money, wealth, and a plush lifestyle coming through. Also, Fitzgerald states that Tom's speech had "a touch of paternal contempt in it", showing that Tom thought himself to be higher and better than others, and that had a right to judge and order people about simply because he was wealthy. This is also ironic in thatTom had paternal contempt for everyone, yet he was a horrible father, not even being bothered by his child, and seldom even acknowledging her.
Also, in the beginning of the story, Nick is astonished by the wealth, he admires and is awed by its power, and the power of those who obtained it. Yet, by the end, this life no longer appears desirable to him as he sees the shallowness, and so he returns back West, as the rich disgusted him by the end. He no longer was fascinated by the idea.
Created By:
Joe Iassogna
Kellin McDermott
Lucila Kaisin
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