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The Great Gatsby

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Michelle Schnell

on 5 September 2012

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Transcript of The Great Gatsby

Think about this... Why are we still reading a book written in the 1920's?

What gives this book its longevity?

How were the 1920's a reaction to WWI?

Some people think that having money leads to happiness. Do you agree? Who or why not? What are the advantages/disadvantages of being wealthy?

What is the "American Dream?" Where did it originate and how has it changed?

Have you ever wanted to relive a moment from your past, to redo it? Themes
-America, the place where anyone can "make it" with effort and skill. "Self-made" men.

-1920's, the brash pursuit of wealth corrupted the dream. Fitzgerald is not criticizing the dream, but the corruption.

-Gatsby has a noble goal, but it is corrupted by the means he used to attain it.

-Nick = observer (us)
-Gatsby = pure dream
-Tom, Daisy, Jordan = the "foul dust" or corruption (destroys the dream(er) "Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men." 1.) The Corruption of the American Dream Early European settlers believed one could start a new life here, limited by only the limits of one's dreams.
Jay Gatsby personifies the "extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness" that is the hallmark of the American Dream.
Gatsby, however, belives that the American dream can be bought. The other characters are corrupted by that same belief to some degree.
Gatsby believes that the past can be recaptured.
In his ability to reserve judgement, Nick personifies the sense of "infinite hope" that marks the American dream. However, he becomes disillusioned and returns to the Midwest. 2.) Sight and Insight -those who are blinded by "the dream" never really
see what is happening. Who is blinded?
Jordan? 3.) Influence of the Past -The past holds Nick and Gatsby--they both seem to long
for a simplier, better, nobler time.
-Was "the past" a simple, better time?
-Tom, Daisy, and Jordan are creatures of the corrupt
present. They are attractive and yet spiritually empty
and rootless.
-And yet we wonder about Tom. What about him? Does
he long for his own glorious past?
-Does Daisy? "Rich girls don't marry poor boys..." The primary images and symbols that Fitzgerald employs in developing this theme are:
1.)the green light at the end of Daisy's
2.)the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg
3.)the description of the vulgar East as
opposed to the moral Midwest
4.)Owl Eyes
5.)Dan Cody's Yacht The novel provides many images of blindness; because hardly anyone really sees what is going on.
The characters have little self-knowledge and even less knowledge of each other.
Nick and Owl Eyes are the only characters who ever really seem to understand.
Also, the eyes of Dr. Eckleburg seem to reinforce the theme that there is no all-seeing presence in the modern world. There is a NHL hockey coach named Mike Keenan. From all reports, he is a horrible human being who knows how to win championships, but is bizarre when it comes to human relationships. Several years ago Sports Illustrated did a story on him. It turns out his favorite book is The Great Gatsby. Keenan sees himself, a la Gatsby, as someone who has dedicated himself to the pursuit of a perfection and is, not unlike Gatsby, willing to sacrafice his identity in the pursuit of the "beautiful woman with a deep thrilling voice." Interesting Tid-Bit... 4.) The Education or Initiation of the Young Man In chapter 12 Nick remembers that it is his 30th birthday.
The Great Gatsby is, essentially, the story of Nick's initiation into life.
His trip east gives him the education he needs to grow up and, in a sense, he tells us his story to show us what he has learned about people and the world.
He is naive when he arrives in the East.
When he returns home he is knowledgeable and, perhaps, even a bit jaded. "Can't repeat the past?... Why of course you can!"
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Ch. 6 "There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams--not through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Ch. 5 "It is invariably saddening to look through new eyes at things upon which you have expended your own powers of adjustment."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Ch. 6 Setting important in Gatsby because in this novel setting reveals character
setting in Gatsby functions as "moral geography"
4 major settings
1.) East Egg
Daisy's house
2.) West Egg
Gatsby's house
Nick's house
3.) Valley of Ashes
Wilson's garage
Michealis' restaurant
Eyes of Dr. TJ Eckleburg
4.) New York City
offices where people work
apartment of Tom/Myrtle
Plaza Hotel
each of these settings both reflects and determines the values and character of the people who live and work there East Egg
a.) home of the Ivy League
b.) home of "old" money
-those who have had wealth
so long they have no need to
show it off or prove it West Egg

a.)Nick lives there because he is too poor for East Egg
b.) Gatsby lives there because he has "new" money and no social credentials
- Gatsby's house (like the rest of his possessions is tastless and vulgar. It would be unacceptable in East Egg. (Remember, Daisy calls it absurd?)
- Therefore Gatsby is ruined by the more powerful East and Nick flees it to return to his home in the MidWest. Vallley of Ashes
a.) where the poor people live (the victims of the rich)
b.) literally dumped on because it is here that the city's ashes are dumped (This is present day Flushing Queens where The Nanny was from!:)
c.) metaphorically dumped on with ill-treatment by the wealthy people from the Eggs.
d.)stands as a symbol of the spiritual dryness, emptiness of the world of the novel New York City
a.)symbol of what America has become in the 1920's
- a place where anything goes, money is made, bootleggers flourish and the World Series can be fixed
- a place of parties, affairs, and bizarre and colorful characters Reinforced by symbolismof American East vs. American West

East Egg
-symbolizes the Jazz Age (modern)
-fascinates and disgustes Nick

West Egg
-symbolizes normalacy and Nick returns there and to his values and

The corruption of the American Dream is based on the assumption that each person, no matter what his orgins, could succeed in life on the sole basis of his or her own skill and effort

The American Dream embodied the ideal of the self-made man (like Fitzgerald's grandpa P.F. McQuillan)

The Great Gatsby is about what happened to the American Dream in the 1920's
-a period when old values that gave substance to the Dream
were corrupted by the vulgar pursuit of wealth

characters are Midwesterners who came East to pursue the corrupted Dream and the money, fame, success, glamour, and excitment
-Tom and Daisy must have huge house, polo ponies, and
wealthy riiends in Europe to be successful
-Gatsby must have mansion, cars, and clothes to win Daisy
AND THEN he will be successful too

Fitzgerald is critizing the corruption of the American Dream
-hardwork and self-reliance has become, what Nick calls, "...the
service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty."

Pursuit of noble goals has been channeled into pursuit of power and pleasure in a showy but empty form of success
-Can be seen in the characters:
-Nick-the observer and commentator
-sees what has gone wrong
-lives the Dream purely
-Tom, Daisy, Jordan
-the "foul dust" who are prime examples of the
corruption of the Dream Structure of the novel
Chapter 1 = x
Chapter 2 = x x = chronological order
Chapter 3 = x a,b,c,d,e, = Gatsby's Past Events
Chapter 4 = x c x
Chapter 5 = x
Chapter 6 = x b x c
Chapter 7 = x
Chapter 8 = x c x d x d
Chapter 9 = x e x a x Factors contributing to the rise of a materialistic U.S.A.
1.) Darwin's Theory of Evolution
man is survivor-whatever man is, is right

2.) Frued - 1920
men and women are totally motivated by sex--good mental health = uninhibited sex life

3.) Henry Ford
assembly line-made "things" more affordable for everyone--"keeping up with the Joneses" and $ = prestige

4.) World War I
everyone had experienced loss of loved ones - hedonism - "eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you shall die"

5.) Advertising and Mass Media
buy now - pay later Final Thoughts...
Full transcript