The Great Gatsby Chapter Analysis

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  • Created by: Lily
  • Created on: 19-04-13 14:21

Chapter 1

  • NICK - established as an impartial narrator however is not entirely passive as the novel takes form in his past.This creates tension in his narrative. Gatsby represents everything Nick hates yet cannot help to admire him ("gorgeous" personality)
  • Distinction of class and wealth, divide of West & East Egg represents the social divide of America.
  • TOM - obsessed with his social standing. Uses his size to intimidate others.
  • Although Tom and Gatsby are similar in terms of wealth and their superficial obsessions they are presented differently by Nicks narrative. Gatsby is a sympathetic character whilst Tom is automaticlaly dislikable.
  • DAISY - Stark contrast to her husband. Frail and shallow and is ultimately content with her materialistic life.
  • "white-girlhood" Daisy and Jordan dressed in white empathises their corruption through the contrast of innocence.
  • GATSBY - presented as almost "God-like". Nick worships him from across the bay. Reaching towards the out-of-grasp Green light highlights his desire for something which has moved beyond him
  • Fitzgerlad sacrifices realism in favour of drama and significance.
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Chapter 2

  • "valley of ashes" = decay.
  • Eyes of TJ Eckleburg = eyes of God. Constantly watching but detached, they do not see. God has left this place = corruption & sin.
  • "valley of ashes" is the underside of the grim hedonism of the Eggs. The only non-wealthy characters reside their. The fact that Wilson is a labourer living in a valley of decay represents the dying art of hard work and society.
  • MYRTLE - seductive and sensuous. In contrast to Daisy she is dressed in saturated colours with red lipstick. Large hips & fleshy breasts = attention tot hese details shows she is a character of sexual relations.
  • Myrtle dresses in a "cream coloured dress" similar to Daisys white. This can either be seen as Toms attachment to his wife and her social standing or how Myrtle aspires to live Daisy life. When she puts the dress on she becomes artificial.
  • Nick is repulsed by these actions but is too fascinated to leave. Represents the idealism of the rich life.
  • "You can't live forever" - Myrtles excuse for an affair, highlights ignorance and selfishness.
  • TOM - hypocritical and violent nature is explored. Hits his wife to keep her in place yet maintains an affair. Violence foreshadows the explosive ending?
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Chapter 3

  • GATSBY - remains a mystery. Stands apart from the rest of he does not drink or dance he merely observes. Is the complete opposite of the rumours. From first sight Nick falls in love with his smile and innate hopefullness.
  • Gatsbys wealth seems to serve a different purpose than to mask immorality & decay.
  • Real books & smile yet false English accent = full of contradictions.
  • Party = a parody of the Jazz Age. Empathises the glamour yet decay of society. Although the guests are well looked after they become drunk, crude and boisterious. They behave like what would often be seen as "lower class" behaviour. This higlights the hypocrisy of the 1920's.
  • CARS - Novelty item in the 1920's. Object of danger in the novel. Jordan is a careless driver and sees responsibility something for others rather than herself. This mimics the selfishness and careless attitude of those with wealth, who can afford to get away with almost anything. This foreshadows the ending.
  • NICK - the contrast between him and the dishonest, cheating Jordan reinforces his position as the objective and reliable narrator.
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Chapter 4

  • MEYER WOLFSHIEM - highlights doubts over Gatsbys virtue and his position of a trustworthy character. Criminalistic rumours may not be completely false. The mystery behind him is intensified. Is a grotesque stereotype of an American ideology over the Jewish culture highlights flaws in Fitzgeralds narrative or flaws in society.
  • Jordans story on the other hand gives a romanticised view of him, an estranged solider forced to worship his lover from afar due to an opposition from her parents. He is presented as a pure, innocent, brave and handsome solider who fought for his love. Jordan draws on many romantic cliches (e.g it's Romeo & Juliet connotations)
  • Daisy is revealed to be the thing that Gatsby yearns most for. She is why he reaches out for the Green Light and why he throws such attention seeking parties. She is his driving force.
  • GREEN LIGHT - symbol of romantic optimism, the American Dream or Daisy herself.
  • DAISY = AMERICAN DREAM. Her corruption and emptiness hidden behind Gatsbys fantastical sight reflect how the American Dream has become poisoned and impossible.
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Chapter 5

  • Nick & Gatsbys relationship questioned. Is Nick a pawn to get to Daisy? Although Gatsby displays affectiob towards him he still uses money & power as a leverage. However, this could be an insecurity after Daisy left him for his lack of wealth so he finds it hard to believe that anyone could like him without it. This would explain the extravagant parties.
  • GATSBY - Most things in his house are English-imported (e.g shirts). Is he trying to live the life of an European aristocrat? = rigid social & class divisions = similar to the ideas of Tom. Presented as a man that lives in the past. "Running down like an over wound clock" "a little boy". Gatsby has reverted back to the mannerisms of a shy and awkward teenager. This could be a result of his happiness but also a reminder that their relationship is not possible in an adult world therefore is destined to be destroyed.
  • DAISY - The Shirt Scene - Is she happy for his success or overjoyed by the presence of pretty things? In this chapter Fitzgerald presents her as sympathetic and almost human.
  • "Aint We Got Fun" - speaks of a carefree love which highlights the tightly-controlled relationship of Daisy & Gatsby. "Got no money but oh honey aint we got fun", ironic that they reunite to this song when Daisy left Gatsby because of his poverty.
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Chapter 6

  • GATSBYS PAST - "sprang from his Platonic conception of himself" = an idealised and exaggerated version of himself. The story of his youth represents both the American dream and the oldest myth of the "self made man". By changing his name he attempted to reinvent himself on his own terms. He leaves college because he finds his work as a janitor "degrading" despite the fact education would improve his social standing. This highlights Gatsbys insecurity to class and his dreams beyond a life in labour.
  • DAN CODY - Parallel to Gatsby, reinforces the image that the self made man can no longer thrive in the 1920's. Death as a result of the woman he loves foreshadows Gatsbys fate.
  • THE LUNCHEON - The awkwardness underlines the hostility and clear divisions of the 1920's society. Gatsby is isolated and treat with contempt despite his overwhelming wealth and power because he is a self made man rather than a member of old money. He is regarded as socially inferior. The ideas posessed by Tom mark a return to European aristocracy, something which Americans sought to escape = hypocrisy.
  • DAISY - She is the symbol of everything Gatsby aimed to posess but her love for him pales in comparison to her love of privilege. She is presented no better than her rigid-minded husband.
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Chapter 7

  • GATSBY - becomes posioned by Daisys "new found love". Shows care for his public reputation and ceases to throw his lavish parties. Contrast to his earlier disregard for rumour. Still proceeds to cover for Daisys murder = noble character, despite her cruelty he will still sacrifice himself for the woman he loves.
  • DAISY - is extremely indiscreet about her affair. Highlights an ignorant and careless attitude. Her decisions border on madness and pure stupidity, something which leads to Myrtles death. Refuses to submit to Gatsbys pleas, deep down she knows her place is with Tom, remains a passive and weak character.
  • TOM - more disturbed than Daisys choice of a lower class lover than her actual infidelity. Believes as a wealthy, white, male aristocrat he is the greatest achievement. However disregards his affair with Myrtle showing contradictions in his character. His humiliation of Gatsbys criminal past shows a knowledge of his wife as he knows she would never degrade herself to that level.
  • Distinction of "new" & "old" money intensified through Daisy & Gatsby.
  • DAISYS DAUGHTER - Represents Gatsbys realisation of the passage of time. Lack of name highlights her position as something Daisy can show off rather than care for.
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Chapter 8

  • FINAL JUDGMENT - "worth the whole damn bunch of them". Although Nick disapproved of his past, his flamboyant style and his relationship with Daisy, he cannot help to admire him. He represents a rare ideal of great passion and dreams in the age of cyncisim, decadence and cruelty. His greatest mistake was his devotion to Daisy (which ultimately leads to his death) as he fell in love with someone who was confined to materialistic expectations. His inability to move on from the past foreshadows that he must die as he does not belong in the present. Up to the moment of his death he still does not lose hope in Daisy but a dreamer cannot exist without his dreams.
  • WILSON - A grim parallel to Gatsby. Like Gatsby and the green light, he attaches significance to the eyes of TJ Eckleburg. Both are destroyed by their love for woman that loved Tom and are both consumed by a desire for something more. He represents the consequences of failing dreams.
  • AUTUMN - Gatsby sits by his pool although there is a chill in the air and pools are usually only used in the summer. This shows his inability to accept that time moves. Summer represents his reunion with Daisy and therefore the end of summer is the end of his dream.
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Chapter 9

"so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past"  - Gatsbys attempts to reject his past are futile. The past is an inescapable human trait. Current of a river = it's naturally determined.

  • GATSBY = AMERICA - Founded on a dream of equality and progress but failed to shake off it's European aristocratic origins through the ideals of people in the "old money". Similarly to Gatsby who dreamed of a life of wealth and power in social standing was limited by his inability to escape his past. Gatsby was not born rich so could never be "part of their world".
  • Gatsby would often gaze across the dock towards the East, admiring to go where Daisy was. The green light here was reflective of the green lands of America and the hope they once instilled. However both the American Dream and the Green Light has now deterioated into a crass pursuit of wealth.
  • WEST = traditional morality & idyllic heartland. EAST = greed & depravity.
  • Nicks disapproval yet admiration for Gatsby prove a challenge to his way of thinking. He cannot condone his past yet cannot reject his courage and beauty.
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