3 characters and how they changed throughout the story:
Nick Carraway – Beginning of the story: quiet, reserved, honest, tolerant, middle class, people find comfort in confiding with him, mysterious, closed off, open-minded, good listener, End of the story: Learnt that not everything is what it seems, open, sad, maturity, understanding, clarity, more judgmental,
In the novel The Great Gatsby, Nick fills in the role of the narrator and tells the story of the great Gatsby from his perspective. Nick was written by Fitzgerald to be a non-judgmental character with an open mind and that’s what made him a good at being the narrator. In the beginning when we first meet Nick, we are told about how his father had taught him from a young age to never judge people, he expressed his thought of this to Nick by saying “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone… just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had”. Throughout the story Nick goes on a journey of discovery. His quiet and honest nature provided refuge for those (Gats, Daisy and Tom) when it came to divulging their inner secrets and lives.
Nick lives in West Egg, West Egg is a part of long island where new money lives. New money is money that has been earned by its holder. Nick works in the bond business, and has made his life using his own means.
During the novel, Nick is taken to an apartment where when Tom and Myrtle are together they reside. Together, the three of them got drunk and even though Nick had no wanting to be there he had no urge to leave. This is stated when Nick quotes “I was within and I was without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life”. Even though he was living a life that was new to him, doing things that were unusual, he was still curious. When he was with someone else he was easily influenced and would do his best to be there for everyone all the time. Even if it wasn’t what he wanted.
At the beginning of the novel Nick discuss’ the one rule to live by which his father had taught him. And that was to never judge a person. I believe that Nick has always been a curious man, a man who’d rather form his own opinions from knowing and understanding the people around him. Throughout the novel, Nick’s curiousity begins to fade as the truth begins to be told. Nick sought answers for questions he didn’t have but he was always willing to discover new and often unpleasant thing, and as the stories of his peers and society unraveled he began to seek the truth less and less, tending to hide away from it. Nick lived in a cruel world and, he never faced that reality before meeting Gatsby. Nick was a man of curiousity, until he met Gatsby, who was a literal lie of a man.
Nick was a man of few words to the outer world, he spoke in a way that often wasn’t heard by those who meant the most to him. Most often when he spoke someone spoke over him, to me this showed that Nick was easily manipulated.
As the story line and plot progressed and the illusion around Gatsby diminished piece by piece, Nick became more and more of the person he is inside, he had never been before this moment the “honest” man he had stated to be when he said, “I am one of the few honest people that I know” because he wasn’t. He lived a life to please. please those around them saying what they wanted to hear. Not a life that pleased him. At the end of the story he told the truths, getting frustrated and yelling at Jordan, letting out peoples secrets, being the honest that mattered to him.
Nick throughout the entirety of the story believed every story he was told, he believed every fact and secret Gatsby told about himself. In my opinion I believe that Nick didn’t question Gatsbys story, due to him being lonely. In the 3 years Nick had been in West Egg he didn’t seem to have anyone significant in his life. He was just on his own in his small cottage, it would’ve been understandable for Nick to want to maintain the only relationship he has, even if it wasn’t completely truthful.
At the end of the story Nick saw the truth, the honest and unrelenting truth. A truth he wasn’t prepared for. He saw Tom and Daisy as they were, not the pure and elegant image they portrayed. They were not innocent like they may appear to be. Nick states, “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people and let other people clean up the mess they had made…” all of which he is regarding to Tom and Daisy. This is one of the first instances that we see Nick lost, we see Nick as no longer as a impartial viewer but a participator who has a voice.
Daisy Buchanan – Beginning of the story: Polite, well mannered, beautiful, charming, pure, innocent, godly, wondrous, sophisticated, graceful, aristocratic End of the story: selfish, shallow, corrupt, vindictive, bored, sardonic, fickle, Things that didn’t change: wealth, upper class, materialistic, “perfect” in the eyes of Gats,
We are introduced to Daisy as a pure and innocent being, a woman to marvel at. Daisy resided at West Egg, the part of Long Island where those who inherited their money live. Daisy lives in a lush white house, adorn in white furnishings, she wore pretty white dresses. Throughout the entirety of the story Nick (Fitzgerald) relates her to the colour white, under the normal or standard circumstances that would mean superiority, pure, innocent and wealthy. In the case of The Great Gatsby, white symbolizes bland and empty. Daisy even though has plenty of materialistic items such as money, lacks the essential means to have a “happy” life. She has a family, a young daughter, and friends. But she never offers any emotion into the things she says and refers to the things that people of my generation would consider things to talk about endlessly. In the first chapter Daisy says “you ought to see the baby”, Nick (the narrator) added onto that in the text that she said that irrelevantly. Like it didn’t matter to her. That the life of her daughter wasn’t merely as significant of the new curtains she brought last week. White symbolizes how empty Daisy is as a person, that her state of consciousness is dictated by her need for materialism. Her desire to have wealth. The things she has are more important to her than the family she has or the love that anyone else would crave. Her life is empty, as she does not think for herself, she is controlled by what society believes is a “perfect” image, a “perfect” life.
Later in the text she says that “ I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool”. In the text I believe that this is one of the only things that Daisy says with any emotion at all. She expresses her joy that her child was a daughter and not a son, this could have many reasons behind it. It could be due to the story line of The Great Gatsby being set the few years after the first world war. Or that she believed that the world was a world of brutality and that the typical male of the time wasn’t of whom she wanted her child to grow to be. The timing of the early 20th century being that a women’s job was not in a workplace or out of the firing line yet at the home. With the wealth that Daisy’s family has built her daughter wouldn’t have to grow to be a house wife that cooks or cleans. She would be one of which just grows up to be. Many reasons could be behind this thought, of which we’ll never know the truth behind it.
She also stated in the same quote that she hopes for her daughter to be a beautiful little fool. This could’ve been so that her daughter could be blind to the pain and suffering that the world is injuring, that she genuinely wants her daughter to live a life of pure naivety. During the 20th century women were still yet to receive the rights equal to a man, maybe she wanted her daughter to grow up blind to the fact that beauty was all a woman had in the world of which they lived.
Beautiful was an odd word choice for the quote, but I believe it was used to emphasis how materialistic Daisy could be, adding to her required taste that her aesthetic is built off.
When Daisy is reintroduced to Gatsby for the first time in 5 years, Nick’s home is covered in “pretty” white wild flowers. This is symbolism for her perceived to be “pure and innocent” nature. But she is not. Wild flowers to represent that she is free and harmless. Yet she is not. Later as the story progressed Gatsby says “… and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is..” Daisy was a rose. A rose is the vision of “perfection” but the closer you get the more dangerous it becomes. A soft white wildflower was never who she was. She was a rose, she had the ability to harbor such beauty, yet the closer she drew you in the more pain and destruction she caused.
Jay Gatsby (James Gats) – Beginning of the story: Educated, well-off, well mannered, upper class, dream like state, mysterious, naive, love bound, End of the story: lower class/dead, non existent, heart broken, fantasy v reality, facing things for the first time, disillusioned by the whole Daisy banger, Things that didn’t change: Optimistic, hopeful,
When we are introduced to Gatsby he is a young wealthy gentleman who lives in East Egg. As he lived in East Egg he made his money, how so was through a combination of legal and illegal means. When Nick is first introduced to Gatsby it is through an invitation to one of his extravagant parties. Gatsby threw these ostentatious parties as a means to attract Daisy to his front door. Daisy of whom he’s been deathly in love with for the past 5 years. Daisy never arrived to one of his parties (prior to their reintroduction at Nick’s home). Everyone else of wealth and status came to his parties, just never Daisy. In Chapter 5 Daisy asks if Gatsby ever gets lonely in such a large home on his own. Which Gatsby replied with “I keep it always full of interesting people”, interesting people of whom he’d never taken the time or individual interest in meeting or getting to know personally. Gatsby didn’t invite any of these people to his parties, they just showed up and heard about them by word of mouth. This further developed the idea of illusion as in this way Gatsby never really existed, no one knew about him, or even what he looked like. People had the same experience of Gatsby as they did with a ghost, which Gatsby pretty much was. Gatsby would through these meraculous parties, with only one intentions nd that was to lure Daisy t his abode. Many of them didn’t know who Gatsby even was, rumors spread like wildfire in any conversation regarding Gatsby in any aspect.
When referring to his family, Gatsby says that “I am the son of some wealthy people in the Middle West – all dead now”. This is one of the aspects that built the idea of illusion around Gatsby. That his parents were wealthy and that they died after he moved to the east. He explained his life to Nick through a series of rehearsed statements. This made his lies all the more believable. For Gatsby it was easy, he had been living his life of illusion for so long that to him it wasn’t an illusion at all.
Nick once said that Gatsby’s, “…imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all…” meaning that all his life, the life he had before Gats was Gatsby was never truly the life he considered himself to live. That his life prior to Gatsby as a poor farm boy never was. His life began when his parents supposedly died, when James Gats left home for the very first time with no money to his name he left and became Jay Gatsby. Hence the illusion that Gatsby had forever been Gatsby, to him this was true.
Before Gatsby went to war, him and Daisy were together. At the time it was odd and often shunned for a woman of such grace and wealth to be with a man of his status. 5 years it took him to build up a life of wealth, status and materials. 5 years it took him to return. Gatsby even though now had the same possessions, money and status if not more than Daisy still lacked the only thing he lived for. What makes all humans human. The emotional connections made through friends and family. Through work colleagues and romantic partners. All of Gatsby’s life lead up to endless moments of when, to him having Daisy was not an if statement it had always be a when.
Throughout the story we hear Gatsby in relation to the green light at the end of the dock outside Daisy’s house. Nick says that, “He stretched out his arms towards 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.” The green light in this story represents the hope Gatsby has for him and Daisy to be together. The perpetual longing for them to be what they were before the war. The only difference being that this time he’ll have the money and status that was an issue for them once upon a time ago.
As the story progresses, more discussion surrounding the green like arises, and we learn that the mist that often clouds Gatsby’s view of the light is the waning hope that the light represents. When his vision gets clouded the illusion begins to crumble.
At the end of The Great Gatsby, the illusion of Gatsby had gone when Daisy never calls. Daisy was the reason for Gatsby’s existence, without her he would never have been. So when Gatsby dies, it was symbolic as when the illusion of Gatsby was no longer neither was he. Gats died a long time ago and was no longer, he “died” because he wasn’t the man Daisy wanted. Gatsby was all he had to hold onto and when that no longer existed neither did he.
Explain what each character helped you to understand about illusion in the novel. Use quotes to support your ideas.
Jay Gatsby Throughout the novel the development of Gatsby’s character changed from the initial naive man, who only lives a life that was worth was entirely based around having Daisy or not. Into a man of frail integrity with lack of self worth.
The growth of Gatsby’s character was obvious by the common reference made by Nick and Gatsby about the green light on the edge of Daisy’s dock. The green of the light was a symbolic representation of the hope Gatsby had for regaining the life him and Daisy had before he went to war, before Gats was Gatsby. Before 5 years apart stood between them. Back when Daisy loved Gatsby back. In times the light was clear and close enough to touch, this was when the the belief Gatsby had for his dream was at his strongest, when he had no doubt, when the illusion was more real to Gatsby than not. When the light was described as being cloudy or foggy, it was when his hope was dwindling. It meant that part of the illusion had broken away becoming no more. At the end of the story the light was gone, he had realised that Daisy was never going to be his. That the illusion was gone.
The first reference to the light was made in chapter 1, after Nick saw an unknown figure staring seaward. Sometimes the light was close enough to touch, other times the light was far enough away that it was invisible. “He stretched out… in a curious way… distinguished nothing except a single green light…” This passage was in the very beginning of the summer, when the hope Gatsby had was at its most intense. Prior to the first time Daisy and him reconnected. This was said when the illusion Gatsby lived was as real to Nick and Gatsby as it will ever be again. At this time, Nick had never even heard about Gatsby before. This of which immediately sparked interest and intrigue by the mysterious figure who was reaching out to a green light. At the time when Nick first saw the figure, it was only represented by a soul on its own beside a green light. Which would is understandable as Gatsby was just a lost soul, a man who had nothing to show apart from being casted in the shadow of the green light, the green light which was the hope he had to him and Daisy to be. Even by the first introduction of the green light we were shown it significance and importance. That no one knew Gatsby and that he was just a shadow casted by the hope he portrayed.
Through time, the green light was blocked, blurred and faded. Clouds stood between Gatsby and the dock. The clouds of which symbolized the past 5 years, the past that Gatsby couldn’t just repeat. Even though Gatsby gave the impression he could when saying, “You can’t repeat the past?’ He cried incredulously. ‘Why of course you can!” But to Gatsby he genuinely believed that the past could be rewritten, that he could backspace and have a do over. Even though that’s impossible, no one can rewind their lives, not 10 seconds, not 1 week, not 5 years. This showed how the illusion often broke away in segments and how the truth was always exposed. Which slowly influenced Nick and Gatsby’s perception on what who Gatsby was and what made him as a person.
Once Gatsby came to the realisation that maybe the hope he had had that him and Daisy would be together, be happy had finally gone, he reached his peak of life. Nick narrates how he sees Gatsby in this moment as, “…The colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever…” That the importance that Daisy was to him, the importance of the “green light” that was gone. That in this moment he now knew that his happily forever after was to never be. This of course would’ve been difficult for anyone to hear, but Gatsby wasn’t a real person without Daisy. If Gats never meet Daisy, Gatsby would never have been created. Gats wouldn’t have this wealth, status or “importance”, to the world he’d just be Gats from second class. The illusion that the green light stood for, the hope that Gatsby had forever had was gone. The truth had been revealed.
Gatsby had lived a life with only one dream in mind, which was to have Daisy as his own. Gats completely changed who he was to be accomplish his dream. A dream that would never come true. A dream that wasn’t prepared to be reality in the harsh reality that it was consumed in. Gatsby was so engrossed by a dream, that he spent his final 5 years in a non existent state. That he didn’t live his life to the fullest potential it could be experienced. Nick states that Gatsby, “Paid a high price for living too long with a single dream.” Which is true, But even though to us Gatsby wasted his life pining after a woman who he never had a chance with. He still spent every minute until the end believing in the possibility. Gatsby was part of the illusion, and as the illusion was now nonexistent, so was he.
Throughout the novel the society of which surrounds the lives of the characters is often described as being a garden. A garden filled with flowers of all colours and species, which is similar to the way life actually is, and we live in societies filled with thousands of people all of different race and personas.
As the novel progressed Daisy was compared to a series of flowers and as her character developed she became more and more dangerous not just to the eye but to the touch.
When Gatsby is preparing for Daisy’s arrival he floods Nick’s home with dozens of white wildflowers. The white wild flowers are rather symbolic, as they are a material representation of how Gatsby sees Daisy as part of his illusion. The colour white symbolises different things depending on the eyes the white is being perceived by. To Nick white starts with meaning wealthy and pure and changes into being bland and empty. But to Gatsby white symbolises pure and innocent, the entire way through. I am discussing this aspect of the illusion through Gatsby’s eyes.
Wildflowers grow uncontrollably and free. They form as a pest in the gardens they grow in. You could argue that, in society Daisy was a pest. A daisy is a wildflower and Fitzgerald has written in Daisy’s character to notably be noticed as a wild flower, a beauty, a wildflower that causes no harm but still cannot be tamed. The illusion of Gatsby was always accompanied by a pure wild image of Daisy, and until the last moments Gatsby had ways lived by the ideality of Daisy being pure and innocent.
Daisy was born into the life of wild and free, her abundance of money and status would have always caused her to be absent even when in the present.
When Nick and Daisy are first introduced to Gatsby’s home, Nick lists the flowers he notices growing in his garden “…the sparkling odour of jonquils and the frothy odour of Hawthorn and plum blossoms…” Each of these flowers grow in shades of white. Pure innocent white. Gatsby at first introduction saw Daisy as a wild flower. At this stage, we had a clear understanding that Gatsby thoughts on Daisy were nothing but good, that the illusion and hope was there. This was a clear indication at the time for us (the reader) that the illusion between Daisy and Gatsby was fully intact, no heartache or notable truths were indicated at this point of the storyline.
As Gatsby’s story neared its end the ideality Gatsby had had over Daisy for so long had changed and this was depicted when Nick narrated the image of emotion Gatsby showed “…as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is…” The rose in this quotation was and forever will remain to be Daisy. Daisy had gone from being a harmless specimen of fine beauty, to a danger. A pain only those whom got close enough to touch could feel (thorns on a rose). Gatsby felt the pain, Gatsby got close enough to feel the stab. A wild flower is a beauty only few can see and love, a beauty that was only significant to few. A rose was the ideality of perfection, to the eyes of society Daisy was “perfect”. But a rose is only perfect if you dont get close enough to it to touch, if you do you’ll get pricked by the thorns and blood will be drawn.
In this moment Nick watched Gatsby stare into the sky, and described it as though it was unfamiliar and new to him. The reason for being so was that Gatsby had never seen the sky or anything other without the sense of Daisy, without the fulfilling glimmer of hope that Daisy would be his once more. This was terrifying for him, as Gatsby was a man created by Gats to make the dream of Gats and Daisy come to life. Gatsby was a dream, and the dream was finally over. This showed us that the illusion had long gone, the illusion and hope that Gatsby was holding onto was completely gone. In this moment, Gatsby had never had so little and been so alone. Material possessions have no meaning to Gatsby. The things he had were only there as a lure to attract the only one he loved.
As Gatsby stood once more, staring at the sky with the clear recognition and understanding that Daisy was never going to be his. As he stood in the unforgiving arms of reality, the illusion and importance that made Gatsby real had crumbled, and all that stood now was the rubble formation of a man who did not exist in the eyes of society.
Nick’s character was the narrator of the story and brought our attention to illusion throughout the story itself. We know Nick as a main character who lived in the reality of society, and not the illusion of which everyone else seemed to be obliviously existing in. Nick’s role was rather significant as we viewed the story from his non-judgmental perspective which became tarnished as the story progressed and Nick developed as a character. As our perspective has been swayed by Nick’s opinions, he played a key role in our belief of what true and what was not in the eyes of illusion.
I’ve discussed previously in the question above about Nick’s naivety when it came to Gatsby and the Buchanan’s.
We experienced the view of a believer in the world of lies, which West and East Egg was.
The illusion that NIck continuously portrayed was that of, a kind truthful man. He even believed this himself when he stated, “I am one of the few honest people that I know.” Which we believed as it was stated very on in the story that Nick was a very in-judgmental person, and lived by the personal rule of “…I’m inclined to reserve all judgements…” after his father gave him this advice as a young boy “… Whenever you feel like criticising anyone.., Remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages you’ve had..” This from the very beginning added the the illusion of Nick being a man of strong integrity and morals. Which as the storyline developed we discovered more and more wasn’t as true as we had once thought.
Nearing the end of the story Jordan Baker said to Nick that, “I thought you were a rather honest, straightforward person. I thought it was your secret pride”. This came up in discussion after Nick began to disregard the Buchanan’s as what they were, liars with only the consideration for themselves. They didn’t care what they did or who they hurt, and Nick had finally seen them as for who they were.
After Jordan had said this to Nick his reply had been that, “I’m five years too old to lie to myself and call it honour.” Which was an allusion reference to Gatsby, as 5 years prior Gatsby had come up with a lie and carried it with honour until the very end.
Nick was significant to the illusion of the story as we carried our opinions based off of what information he gave us, he was important as without his perspective we couldn’t have been deceived by Gatsby and the society they lived in.
3 Character relationships and their importance to illusion.
Nick and Gatsby
The relationship Nick and Gatsby had throughout the story of The Great Gatsby was often difficult to comprehend, as Nick’s attachment to Gatsby was strong even though they’d only known each other for a short amount of time. The “friendship” of Nick and Gatsby began at the start of summer, and ended at the end of summer (when Gatsby died). The entire span being less than 3 months.
From the first time Nick and Gatsby met, Nick saw something in Gatsby no one had taken notice of before. Nick stated that “He smiled understandingly, much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in your life.” Gatsby’s smile was the first part of the illusion that drew Nick in. The issue with this being that, a smile is an easy aspect to fake. In every statement which featured the eyes of a character, the eyes told the truth. Even when the face (the mouth) of the person was showing the opposite response.
Nick was blind to the truth of Gatsby, the truth of everyone who surrounded him. Nick believed in the smile Gatsby gave, Gatsby’s smile gave Nick reassurance in the truth even when he was in doubt. That was a quality Gatsby had perfected as part of his illusion. The illusion which began with the first look.
Daisy and Gatsby
The relationship between Daisy and Gatsby was that of a boy who loved too much and a girl who didn’t care. I refer to both Gatsby and Daisy as children as they both possessed childlike behaviour.
The illusion that Gatsby had created and surrounded himself by, would be nothing without the existence of Daisy. Gatsby first of all wouldn’t exist, it’d just be poor man Gats. Whom lived in the west. But the illusion of the hope was often given life by Daisy as she made some uncanny remarks of which were often suggestive towards the colour green and its symbolic meaning of hope. At one point in the novel, Daisy had stated, “Just mention my name, Or present a green card, I’m giving out green.” Which was a reference to us, that she was giving away hope. Just the whisper of her name would give Gatsby a little more to hold onto. But she was just giving it away as she said, meaning to her she had an abundance of it and she didn’t care what the effects of giving it away would mean.
With the idea of illusion in mind, the relationship that Gatsby and Daisy had was entirely fake. Daisy supplied Gatsby with an unlimited amount of hope and he returned it with his loyalty. Daisy fuelled Gatsby’s illusion which in turn made it weaken.
At the end of the novel after Gatsby’s passing, Nick stated that, “She vanished into her rich house, into her rich life, full life, leaving Gatsby – nothing”… This showed us, that after the illusion of Gatsby had completely crumbled apart and Gatsby had died, this meant nothing as Daisy had continued to I’ve her “American dream” which to her was a house, money and status. This to her made her life full, and what seems to me to be materialistic. And Gatsby? He had died, and his “American dream” was over, the dream of having a life with Daisy.
Tom and Myrtle
Tom and Myrtle’s relationship was entirely based off of illusion. Tom and Myrtle would stay in an apartment away from where both Tom and Myrtle would live. At the apartment, they would not behave how they usually would. To them this was their illusion. The illusion of Tom and Myrtle was that they lived a life they didn’t have. They loved each other, but their love could never be. As Tom would forever be married to Daisy, and Myrtle would always be married to George. And after they left the apartment their illusion was over, so Myrtle was accustomed to making the most of her life as it was only a dream. This was expressed by Nick, when he stated that, “Then she flounced over to the dog, issued it with ecstasy, and swept into the kitchen, implying that a dozen chefs awaited her order there”. This implied that she was used to the life she lived. That this was a typical day for her. Nothing out of the normal, but none of it is real. It’s all an illusion. That none of it was as it seemed, that on the surface it looked like Tom and Myrtle were the average American couple one whose relationship was formed on the foundations of love and compatibility. Found on truth. But they weren’t married, or even together to the wider world. But to them they were. It was a hidden illusion, not one many knew of. Which in many ways makes it all the lot worse, especially for George. Nick says that, “He had discovered that Myrtle had some sort of life apart from him in another world…” George was married to Myrtle, and they lived in the valley of ashes, where they worked to build lives they would never have. They did all they could to afford a better life. George knew, in all the time Tom and Myrtle were together that Myrtle was always somewhere else. Living in a dream like state until the next time her and Tom met again. The life she lived with tom, and the life she lived with George were so very different and it was as if each of them lived in two different worlds. One of glitz and glamour and the other of dull and drab.