The Great Gatsby: Chapter 1

Characterisation and use of setting in chapter 1 of The Great Gatsby

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Characterisation of Gatsby:

View from Nick:

  • "heightened sensitivity to the promises of life"
  • "gift for hope"
  • "romantic readiness"
  • "exempt from my reaction"
  • "something gorgeous about him"
  • All these quotes appear sycophantic, suggesting Gatsby is above everyone else. It is a hopeful, positive description

Him seen at the end of the chapter:

  • "what share was his of our local heavens"-suggests that he has a right to our heavens, he's worthy of it, angel-like, possibly arrogant?
  • "stretched out his arms toward the dark water"-unconscious gesture? yearning subconcsiously for Daisy
  • "trembling"- suggests desperationg, been waiting a long time, desire
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Characterisation of Nick:

We learn about Nick in the beginning of the novel however it is from his perspective therefore what we learn is fallible

  • middle-class, wanted the excitement of war again
  • inherited morals from his father-"fundamental decencies are parcelled out unequally at birth"
  • considers himself as tolerant and unjudgemental which is contradicted throughout the novel

Effect of his narration:

  • It is first person narration which could be viewed as positive as you can almost guarantee genuine emotions
  • However, it also limits what you can learn about the other characters
  • And also there is an edge of bias that permeates description and recall of events
  • We have to consider whether it is fact or Nick's opinion and then try and determine what Fitzgerald's tone is, adding a new dynamic to the novel
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Characterisation of Daisy:

Inital impression:

  • "sad and lovely", "bright", "passionate", "charming little laugh"-positive, hopeful
  • "fluttering"-butterfly, delicate
  • "white" connotes purity and innocence
  • "do they miss me"-supercilious, arrogant? or longing to go back?

After dinner:

  • "pretty cynical about everything"- contrast first impressions
  • "i hope she'll be a fool" because that's "the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool"-pessimistic, cynical- illustrates what women were expected to be like at the time
  • "I've been everywhere and seen everything"-supercilious, pompous? intimating that she has done everything in life already
  • "I'm sophisticated"-self-assurance, arrogant?
  • Our initial impressions are of hope and joy which are juxtaposed by her pessimistic views on the society she lives in
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Characterisation of Jordan:

Similarities to Daisy:

  • "fluttered"-delicate, innocent
  • "slender"
  • Is seen as feminine, innocent, pure (references to "white")


  • "erect carriage"-sign of haughtiness or arrogance?
  • "chin raised a little"-pomposity
  • "nice girl"-Nick's narrative voice permeating through the description
  • "self-sufficiency"-strong, powerful (atypical for women at that time)
  • "hardy scepticism"
  • She is a golfer which was not a job typically associated with women
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Charaterisation of Tom:

Inital description by Nick:

  • "brute", "aggresively"
  • "supercilious", "arrogant"
  • "unrestfully"-suggests he's not content, reinforced by his background of moving around and not settling down
  • "power of that body", "a cruel body"
  • reached an "acute limited excellence" therefore everything after that was an "anti-climax"-critical? jealous because Nick became the most "limited of all specialists" the "well-rounded man"?
  • met in "college" where he was a "powerful ends" that "played football"
  • "pathetic in his concentration"

What he says:

  • "everyone ought to read it"-supercilious, believes his view to be top
  • "dominant race"-fascist
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West egg:

  • Where Nick and Gatsby live
  • "sunshine", "great bursts of leaves"-hopeful, joyous
  • "not perfect ovals", "less fashionable of the two"-critical, pessimistic? creates an air of humility over it
  • Represents the ostentation of the new rich

East egg:

  • Where Tom and Daisy live
  • "fashionable", "glittered along the water"-source of hope? or reflects the hope of G?
  • Represents breeding, taste and aristocracy

Seperation by river:

  • represents Gatsby and Daisy and the unworkable intersection between them
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Tom and Daisy's house:

  • "sunset", "candles", "glowing", "gold", "bright vines", "burning gardens", "sun-dials"-all connote hope and vitality
  • "cheerful red-and-white Georgian Colonial mansion"-aristocratic, illustrates wealth
  • "rosy-coloured porch"-symbolise life and love
  • windows "white"-purity, innocence
  • "last sunshine fell with romantic affection"-context=era of Romanticism, could reflect Gatsby and his Romantic affection for Daisy
  • "overlooking the bay"- the bay symbolising the seperation between Daisy and Gatsby

Nick's house:

  • "pools of light", "loud, bright night"
  • "wings beating in the trees", "frogs full of life"
  • all connote life, hope, love, vitality-atypical as the novel is based around Gatsby, perhaps his hope has emanated or overshadowed Nicks house
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The themes illustrated in the first chapter of The Great Gatsby are:

  • Love? between Gatsby and Daisy or lack of love between Daisy and Tom
  • Wealth
  • Arrogance
  • Putiry/innocence
  • Femininity and masculinity

Main techniques:

  • characterisation
  • use of setting
  • symbolism: the "green light" could symbolise money (link to context of era), or could symbolise Gatsby's love for Daisy, could be his hope, envy or jealousy. The fact it is a "single" light suggests all his energy is focused on that yet it is "far away"-distance or time?
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sade adu


thanks xxxxxxxx

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