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. Use quotes to support your ideas.
The main character in this novel is Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is a very wealthy, middle aged businessman. He lives in a exquisite mansion in West Egg, New York and often hosts parties for the public, flocks of people from all over NY come to his parties even though he only knows a few. The crowds that come to the parties have never seen Gatsby before and have made up wild rumors about how he became rich and why he is there. During the start of the book we know Gatsby as a secretive, sophisticated man that has a dream. We quickly learn that his dream is to have a future with Daisy. As his guard drops throughout the book we quickly learn, with Gatsby his dream is never going to happen and that his life is just one big false hope. This is illustrated to the audience when Fitzgerald mentions “He stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way… involuntarily. I glanced seaward- and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock.” This is Gatsby reaching for his dream of a future with Daisy, he visualizes the the green light as his future and his hope for it. That fact that it is far away signifies that it is always going to be out of reach to him.
Nick is the narrator of The Great Gatsby. He is Daisy’s cousin but unfortunately didn’t inherit any money as he is not immediate family. Nick lives in a small cottage next to Gatsby. He moved to West Egg to be closer to Daisy and Tom. At the start of the book Nick’s dad gives him some advice “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” This makes Nick seem like a very considerate and non-judgmental person. However as the novel progresses Nick seems to become more open with his judgments. This is an illusion that Nick is in fact a very judgmental person. At the end of the book when Gatsby’s truth is out, Nick lets out all his thoughts on everyone and everything.
In the Great Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan is a middle age upper class woman. Daisy is married to Tom Buchanan and has one child, Pammy, they all live in an exquisite house in East Egg, New York. She is viewed as a flawless woman at the start of the novel, these views all come crashing down when Gatsby tries to regain his childhood dream. Daisy had been born into the upper class, wealthy life and it is all she knows. Through out the book Daisy is surrounded my white objects this is because she is so bland and empty and she is missing something. White is not a colour, it is technically a shade, so this represents that Daisy is a bit false and shallow. “Their impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire.” It is often said that the eyes are the window to the soul, this quote describes how Daisy’s eyes are empty and she expresses no true feelings.
Daisy met Jay Gatsby when they were both at a party and he was in the army. While Gatsby was away Daisy married Tom Buchanan, Daisy was overwhelmed by Tom’s charming wealth and instantly fell in love with the thought of all the happiness he could bring her. Daisy and Gatsby met 5 years later and suddenly the controlled life that Tom had given her started to fall apart as Gatsby pushed himself into the picture.
Daisy helps me understand illusion because she is often referenced to as a flower, a rose.
“He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is…”
This is when Gatsby has finally come to terms with the fact that Daisy was never going to be in his life. The sky is now unfamiliar to him and he is seeing through new eyes, without the filter of Daisy. Daisy was his rose. When you first look at a rose, you see its beauty and elegance. It appears perfect. When you get close to a rose, touch it, you can see the thorns and how painful and dangerous they can be. Earlier in the novel when Gatsby and Daisy meet again, Fitzgerald surrounds them with flowers which are harmless. Now it is revealed that Daisy is the rose in the garden.
3: Describe three important relationships in the text and explain what they revealed about illusion. Use quotes to support your ideas.
Tom & Myrtle
Tom and Myrtle’s relationship is something that both use as a ticket out of their lives in reality. In the book they had an affair for around 3 months. Myrtle is not in love with Tom but is in love with the materialistic side of the relationship, he can afford to buy her anything unlike her husband George Wilson, who actually loves her. Tom uses Myrtle’s relationship as an excuse to get away from his life with Daisy and to confirm that he is a very controlled man. Tom likes to be in control so when Myrtle and Tom are out one night in New York, Myrtle starts repeating Daisy’s name over and over, this angers Tom so to get control of the situation he punches her in the face and breaks her nose.
“Then she flounced over to the dog, kissed it with ecstasy, and swept into the kitchen, implying that a dozen chefs awaited her orders there.” When Myrtle was in NY with Tom she could pretend that she had money and status. This quote explains how she changes when she is with Tom, because in reality she does not have chefs to do her cooking and she is normally not as bubbly.
Daisy & Gatsby
Daisy and Gatsby’s relationship started when Daisy met the young Jay Gatz, a young gentleman who was a part of the army. This is where the whole relationship became an illusion. Jay pretended to be a wealthy young man, and Daisy being her shallow self, fell for this lie and believed that he was in the same social class as her. Gatsby carried out this lie while he was away fighting by sending her letters. But this was not enough for Daisy as while he was away, she married Tom Buchanan whom was a filthy rich, high social class, man. Daisy instantly fell in love with the idea of money and class.
When Gatsby came back from war five years later, he had heard the news of Daisy’s new marriage, but was still dreaming of what they were before. He was determined to get her back, so he started illegally making money to become the person she believed he was and win her over with his money. But he was just ignoring the fact that she had moved on and was married and now had a child.
“She vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life, leaving Gatsby- nothing” Their relationship after five years was obviously very one sided, and Gatsby was the one with the vision of their life and future together, Daisy could afford to leave Gatsby behind and move on into a richer, fuller life that Tom could provide. At the end of the book when Daisy had the choice of what man to choose, she is so self obsessed that she only worried about her social picture and class. This is why she chose Tom.
Gatsby & Nick
The relationship between Gatsby and Nick is very interesting. I am still confused as to whether Gatsby genuinely liked Nick as a friend or just used him to get closer to Daisy, to his dream. When Nick first encounters Gatsby he describes him like this, “He smiled understandingly — much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life.”