People always have something to hide beneath their ‘perfect’ illusion. I have chosen to study the following texts with the underlying idea of illusion in each of their main characters; The Great Gatsby, Lamb to the Slaughter, The Blind Side and The Lost Decade. The main characters, Jay Gatsby, Mary Malone, Leigh – Anne Tuohy and Mr Trimbell all actively present the idea of illusion in their lives through out their stories.
Jay Gatsby, the main character in the Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, presents the idea of illusion in this text by the way he covers up his background and creates ‘just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen year old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end.’ Gatsby came from a very poor background and was forever dreaming of a wealthy life style, with a beautiful wife in an extravagant house. He left his family behind him and moved forward with his ‘new’ life. Gatsby sculpted himself into a young man that he thought was the best, he did this by creating an illusion of how he was well off, in reality he illegally earned money, how he was well educated from Harvard, in reality he was only there for 6 months, how he was a caring and inviting man, but he was far from these lies, he was everything they were not. Gatsby’s mask of perfection quickly drops and we learn that he is not the successful business man, but a man that is living in his dreams, not in reality. His dream of a life with Daisy Buchanan appears to be incredibly possible to him but he doesn’t realize that in reality this is unobtainable, impossible. That is why he is said to have “paid a high price living to long with a single dream.” Gatsby only had one mission in his life, that was to live his ideal perfect life, that’s the illusion behind Gatsby, that he was far from what he looked to be on the surface. People that did not know him well only saw the wall of flawlessness that surrounded him and radiated his perfections. These two quotes tell us how he adapted his life to make things happen, he chased what he wanted and in the end he was living in an illusion of himself. Through the text of The Great Gatsby we learned that reality always catches up on you, no matter how fast you try to run. He should have embraced his circumstance and lived with it, made it the best life he could, and challenged his fears and he would have had a satisfied, fulfilled life. We as an audience can learn from Gatsby’s mistakes by taking home the message that we should accept what we have been given and excel in the life that has been created for us instead of hunting down something that is always going to be out of our reach.
The second text i have chosen is The Blind Side, directed by John Lee Hancock. The film is about a young homeless boy, Michael, that is adopted by the Tuohy family. Leigh Anne Tuohy (the mother) is a very self driven, motivated and hard working parent, she gives up on nothing and is incredibly caring. Leigh Anne presents the idea of illusion by the fact that people see her as an upper class, slightly snobby woman that has no feelings. But this is just the illusion of Leigh Anne Tuohy, in reality she is a very honest, caring woman that has a deep feeling of respect for everyone that tries in any circumstances. People perceive her as a lady with a hard attitude to break, Leigh Anne keeps this mask on until people really get to know her, almost like she is afraid she is afraid to let people see what she is like on the inside.
“you are a unique person, created for a specific purpose, your gifts matter, your story matters, your dreams matter. You matter.” Leigh Anne has a deep belief that everyone in the world counts. That everyone should be proud of who they are. When she took Michael in off the streets this helped her become more honest with herself and appreciate what she has in her life. People began to see her differently, with out her mask of money and class on. This was the illusion of her identity disappearing. When she said “It’s your decision. It’s your life.” She was referring to how you choose to live your life. Either as an illusion or in reality.
The Great Gatsby relates to The Blind Side because Leigh Anne and Gatsby both present the idea of illusion by a mask of money covering up their imperfections. The way that Gatsby and Leigh Anne hide their true identities and feelings behind their money is very similar. We see that in both of these texts that money is a significant factor in how people are seen and how people choose to act.
My third text is Lamb to the Slaughter, written by Roald Dahl. The main character I studied in this short story was Mary Malone. Mary Malone suggests the idea of illusion by the way the she creates a fake facade after she kills her husband, Patrick Malone. Mr Malone is killed by his wife after delivering some bad news, Mary then pretends to be the lovely, caring woman that she comes across as. After killing her husband with a roast lamb leg she smoothly covers up by cooking the roast and going down to the local store to buy some necessities, on her way home she convinced herself that she was that gentle lady that did no harm, “Do everything right and natural. Keep things absolutely natural and there’ll be no need for any acting at all.” Mary Malone covered up the death of her husband by creating the illusion that she was innocent, in reality this is only a mask that covers up her true identity. By telling herself that she was to act normal this persuading her mind that she is still the little lady down the road that cares about everyone.
If “she happened to find anything unusual, or tragic, or terrible, then naturally it would be a shock. She will become frantic with grief and horror.” By telling herself how she was to act this helped her create the illusion, this was the illusion that everyone saw her as.
Mary Malone from Lamb to the Slaughter and Leigh Anne Tuohy from The Blind Side are similar in the way that people perceive them. People see Mary as an innocent lady when in reality she is spiteful, on the other hand people view Leigh Anne as a lady that is caught up in her wealth but underneath the illusion of this she is incredibly caring and thoughtful. Both of these woman hide their true identities under their illusions of the caring attitude of Mary Malone and the wealth of Leigh Anne Tuohy. These two main characters are very comparable in the way that people perceive them, they are almost the opposite of how they are seen.
My fourth text I have chosen is The Lost Decade by F. Scott. Fitzgerald. The Lost decade presents the idea of illusion through the main character, Mr Trimbell. He has been ‘away’ for ten years, when he comes back into society everyone thinks he has been away travelling or doing something interesting but Mr Trimbell has hidden himself away from civilization, in his own world, drunk for the past ten years.
“But i was drunk that year – every – which – way drunk.” During the short story it is never specifically mentioned that Mr Trimbell was actually drunk for ten years but it is implied. He hides behind the illusion that he is not a drunk, when in fact he is not living in reality but in his own world of ‘ drunkenness ‘. He cannot differentiate the difference between his world of illusion and reality. At the end of the story Mr Trimbell says ” Jesus,”… “Drunk for ten years.” This is him realizing that he has been hiding away from civilization, hiding behind his illusion. He had a vague idea that people thought he had been away doing something interesting. But throughout the time he had been drunk, Mr Trimbell couldn’t even begin to comprehend that he had wasted ten years of his life being behind a mask of alcohol until he saw how the people and buildings had changed. In the story he saw and felt everything with new eyes, this was him overcoming his illusion and starting to live in reality
Mr Trimbell ( The Lost Decade) and Mary Malone (Lamb to the Slaughter) are very similar characters. As both of their stories progress we begin to piece them together as their illusions come crashing down, we get a glimpse of their true characters. They both correspond with my statement that suggests that everyone has something to hide. Mary hides her husbands death and Mr Trimbell hides that he has been ‘out of civilization’ for ten years.
Whilst studying these four texts I came across a significant theme in all of the four main characters, they all presented the idea of illusion by hiding something. This coincides with my statement that ‘people always have something to hide behind their ‘perfect’ illusion.’ It became clear to me that it is so easy to create an illusion of yourself so that people perceive you differently, so you can become more likable or so you can cover up what is really going on ‘behind the scenes’. The Great Gatsby taught us that illusion can be used to cover the voids of where something might be missing, for example he used money to overshadow that his life was lacking and empty. In the Blind Side, Leigh Anne presents the idea of illusion by using money as an illusion so that her feelings are not open to everyone and so people cannot see her true caring identity. Mary Malone from Lamb to the Slaughter teaches us about her illusion by creating a believable cover for herself to con others into thinking she was innocent. Mr Trimbell from the lost decade was hiding behind the illusion of not being drunk while in reality he had been drunk for ten years. Throughout all these texts I can see a common theme of the characters creating an illusion to hide their insecurities and true identities. It is said that “illusion is needed to disguise the emptiness within.” I believe that this statement is very relatable in the real world because everyday people feel the need to fill in their insecurities and weaknesses by either changing their physical or mental appearance. Creating an illusion is only cheating yourself and your happiness, eventually your walls will crash down and people will begin to see the truth behind your actions, so what is the point in creating an illusion in the first place?