The Great Gatsby


Influence of Time/ Culture

  • The book was not recieved well when first published
  • It became better known later
  • It seems acceptable for Tom to have a mistress in the novel - is it now?
  • Do we read the novel differently knowing the decadence cannot last?
  • Fitzgerald seems to mock Tom's racism
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Tom Buchanon

  • Arrogant, Hypocrytical
  • Bigoted Racist
  • "Tom's got some woman in New York"

Myrtle Wilson

  • "Tom's got some woman in "New York"
  • Married - having an affair with Tom
  • Gets killed by Daisy driving a car - accidental

Daisy Buchannon

  • Fickle
  • Gold digger
  • Selfish and shallow but enchanting
  • married to Tom, 
  • Also in love with Gatsby
  • Having an affair as well
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Characters continued...

Jordan Baker

  • Bored and sardonic
  • Professional golfer
  • Represents the changing yimes
  • Loves gatsby's over extravagant parties
  • Nick's partner for the majority of the novel

Nick Carroway

  • The opening of the novel discusses Nick's chacrter
  • Fought in WW1
  • He's the narrator - first person narrative
  • Quiet reflective nature, introsprective
  • An outsider/ misfit
  • Tolerant
  • He is seen as an empty reciprocal tah tothers fill with confidences
  • This makes him a trusted narrator
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Characters continued....

Jay Gatsby

  • Real name = James Gatz
  • War Hero
  • Tragic hero?
  • "Mr nobody from nowhere"
  • "An extraordinary gift for hope"
  • Representation of the corruption of the American Dream
  • Esessively wealthy due to his involvement in organised crime
  • Obsessive; everything he has ever achieved has been in persuit of Daisy
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Context (A04)

  • Decline of the American Dream in the 20s
  • Hard work = money = success = happiness
  • Fitzgerald was known as the 'chronicler of the jazz age'
  • Roaring 20s - Published in 1929 - Jazz age
  • Speakeasies
  • Rise of 'black music' less radical divide
  • Prohibition (Eighteenth emendment) - 1919
  • Written about the time in which it was published
  • Organised crime flourished
  • Bootlegging
  • Economic Boom - extravagance, opulence
  • Set during the summer of 1922 near Long Island (West/ East Egg)
  • Fitzgerald Quit Princeton to enlist in the army - 1917 (end of WW1)
  • Fitzgerald had a drinking problem - made money of short stories later in life
  • Fitzgerald Died in Hollywood in 1940
  • Fitzgerald was very successful and was Published by the age of 23
  • Fitzgerald married Zelda Sayre, she was the love of his life - she was schizophrenic
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Form and Structure

  • First Person Narrative
  • Subjective
  • Style is condensed, lyrical and aesthetically self concious


Jordan - Unisex name - Nick was bi - sexual

Daisy - A daisy flower is white - representing purity - juxtaposition due to the character's infidelity

Myrtle - is a bush/ tree, compared to teh daintyness of Daisy

James Gatz - Changes to Jay Gatsby - he has a clandestine nature and a hidden past

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Key Quotes:

"Her voice is full of money" [Said by Gatsby] - When Gatsby states that “Her Voice is full of money” it proves that Gatsby only sees a vision of money when he looks at daisy or when she speaks to him. The lexis ‘full’ represents that there is no more room for anything else not even love, knowledge or beauty therefore the only thing Gatsby sees in her is wealth. Analysing further there is the idea that a voice is not a physical thing and that without it a human is at a serious disadvantage. A voice is a key human feature, we use it to talk and express emotions etc. Therefore here Gatsby is dehumanising Daisy by taking away something that makes her human and replacing it with money – the root cause of all evil. This also supports the idea that Gatsby’s social destruction leads to his mental obliteration which causes the breakdown of their relationship.

"Gatsby belived in the green light" [said by Nick] - the author's use of the past tense highlighted by the word 'believed' shows that Gatsby no longer believes that Daisy is his future. "Green"  is the colour of life and due to the character's placement behind the green light the reader can interpret that Gatsby's life is behind him - symbolising his death.


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The 'Green light' at the end of the Buchannans Dock is used as a symbol throughout the Novel. 

Initially the audience see Gatsby reaching out to the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. Fitzgerald uses Gatsby’s fixation on the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock to present Gatsby’s dream of being with Daisy. During their first meeting Gatsby tells Daisy about his tendencies to stand and look at the “Green light” at the end of her Dock. The “green” of the light has been used by Fitzgerald because green is the universal colour for ‘go’, and so Daisy is seen as Gatsby’s reason to keep going.

Green also represents new life in green shoots during spring, therefore the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock expresses the idea that she is his new beginning, however, alternatively the colour green can represent jealousy in terms of the ‘green eyed monster’, this term was used by, and invented by, Shakespeare to represent jealousy, in The Merchant of Venice, (1596). Fitzgerald could have used this to dehumanise Gatsby’s character making him out to be a monstrous product of a corrupted society (the American dream). Moreover this presents Gatsby’s character as a complex one, whose feelings towards Daisy are both positive yet destructive.  In many parts of the book Gatsby’s character stands mysteriously and isolated in the moonlight, which is symbolic of spotlighting a flawed character because the moon alone cannot shine brightly – it needs the sun’s light.


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