- List the four main settings in the novel. Provide a description for each setting and explain what each setting represents.
West Egg: West Egg was described by Nick as “…the less fashionable of the two…” as this was where new money residence would reside. New money pretty much meant, people who had made their own living and created their own life with funds they earnt themselves. Gatsby and Nick both lived in West Egg, but the contrast between the pairs earnings was different as Nick had only made his life using legal means, as Gatsby had not.
East Egg: East Egg was referred to by Nick as “…fashionable East Egg…” whilst he was describing the difference between his home and Daisy’s. East Egg was where those of whom had inherited their lifestyle lived. Residence included Daisy and Tom Buchanan. When giving a description of East Egg, Nick used words that to us correlated with beauty and wealth. Words being white palaces and glittered were used in the first couple sentences of East Egg’s initial introduction. So this had already given us the impression of what East Egg was considered to be. Nick had also stated, “…though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister intrastate between them.” Suggesting that although East Egg showed beauty, not everything was as it seemed. (Which is correct as the entire story line revolved around illusion).
New York: New York, was where the people whom were considered to be 2nd class would go when attempting to make their “American Dream” come to life. This was done through the mentality of equity. That New York was just an attempt at escapism, a place where all those who came were given equal opportunities and chances when attempting to make their American dream come true.
The valley of ashes: The valley of ashes, was a dark and cruel place. This was the place where to me dreams went to die. Where people with no other options would go and settle for a life of heartache and pain. The lower class residents who live in the valley of ashes all crave to escape, but they cannot. This was shown as George Wilson, he worked everyday in an attempt to make enough money to leave the Valley of Ashes and go west. Go west, a place with promise. The people of the valley were oppressed by the wealthier and high class members of society, and tended to be looked down upon.
2. Select two of the settings from above and discuss how these settings helped you to understand the idea of illusion in the novel. Use quotes to support your ideas.
The Valley of Ashes
The valley of ashes: The Valley of ashes, is a place filled with people with the aspiring hope that for the work they do, they get an equal reward. That if they work hard enough they will be able to provide a better life for their families. But this isn’t the case, and this was shown when George Wilson’s character said to Tom, “I’ve been here too long. I want to get away. My wife and I want to go west.”
George’s American dream was to have enough money to move away from the valley of ashes, and form a better life. George expected that by working hard he would be able to climb the social ladder becoming higher class citizens. But this was never going to happen, as for the time period of the 1920s a firm class system was in place, and no wiggle room. Change was not a possibility for this time.
George was young, he still had the hope that the possibility of him and Myrtle having better lives was out there. Even though it never was, The valley of ashes was for the inhabitants with the broken promise of the “American dream”.
When in the valley of ashes, the characters made the reference to their constantly being eyes watching them. George said that,”God knows what you’ve been doing, everything you’ve been doing. You may fool me, but you can’t fool God!” This was symbolic as god throughout the story was a reference to the large sign of Dr T.J Eckleburg. The eyes are always looking down on the residence of the valley of ashes. Just like how the higher class members of society (Tom and Daisy) look down upon the lower class members (George and Gatsby).
East Egg is where residence with old money live. Where privilege is something you’re born with. A place of which is filled with wealthy individuals who will always have a step up in life. Things come easy. East egg is commonly described as being beautiful and clean. The reference of eyes was never even suggested in the slightest bit.
Daisy and Tom live in East Egg, as they were higher class citizens of society. There materialism and classicism was often depicted through the way they spoke about West Egg and The Valley of Ashes, At one point Nick pointed out Daisy’s view on West egg by saying “…appalled by its raw vigor that chafed under the old euphemisms and by the too obtrusive fate herded its inhabitants along a short-cut from nothing to nothing.” Meaning that Daisy was disgusted by the way the citizens of West Egg lived. That they were dirty people, which will never get anything or go anywhere in life.
Referring to the “American dream”, Daisy and Tom didn’t have to do anything to achieve it. They were born into the privilege and life the indulge in. They were born into lives of which they didn’t care who they hurt or to what extent the damage they caused was. Their “American dream” was materialistic, they wanted money and items and status. They didn’t care for their families or friends.