Great Gatsby Movie Vs Book Essay Example
Great Gatsby Movie Vs Book Essay Example

Great Gatsby Movie Vs Book Essay Example

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  • Pages: 11 (2926 words)
  • Published: September 14, 2017
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The descriptions of individual characters and settings convey ethical and moral judgments of a society. In the Great Gatsby, the descriptions of the Eggs, the “valley of ashes”, Gatsby, and the Buchanans all convey the judgment that the upper class of the society are shallow, empty and hollow and therefore, lacking morals and ethics and because of this, that the American dream has failed as citizens have become obsessed with the material aspect of the American dream rather than the spiritual aspect.Firstly, one of the settings described in the Great Gatsby is the contrast of West and East Egg. The descriptions are highly symbolic and convey that the upper class of the society is lacking in morality and ethics because it has been corrupted by material wealth and power that comes from this wealth.

In the nove


l, West Egg and its citizens represent the newly rich, while East Egg and its citizens represent the old aristocracy. East is symbolic of wealth and corruption, west of morality.In the story, east is symbolic of wealth and the corruption it causes. In the east, having money is having power, and that power corrupts. Indeed, in the east, few truly take responsibility for their actions.

Early in the story, Jordan Baker is nearly suggested in the newspapers to have "moved her ball from a bad lie" in the semi-finals of a golf tournament. Witnesses later said they might have been wrong, no doubt with the encouragement of Jordan's money. Also, when Daisy ran into Myrtle, she didn’t stop the car.In the corrupt East, people don’t take responsibility for their actions.

The west, on the other hand, is symbolic for

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morality. The west was known for its values and its work ethic. Nick refers to the place as "the warm center of the world. " Nick later talks of the west as the place where “houses are called by the name of the family”. With all of its morality, the west was still unfashionable, people (eg. Gatsby and Nick) wanted to move to East Egg drawn by the wealth and care-free attitude.

However, as Nick says, “we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly inadaptable to Eastern life. " This means that Nick and Gatsby will never get there because they lacked taste. Fitzgerald portrays the newly rich (west eggers) as being vulgar, gaudy, ostentatious, and lacking in social graces and taste. Gatsby, for example, lives in a monstrously ornate, gothic mansion, wears a pink suit, drives a Rolls-Royce, and does not pick up on subtle social signals, such as the insincerity of the Sloane’s’ invitation to lunch.In contrast, the old aristocracy (east eggers) possesses grace, taste, subtlety, and elegance, epitomized by the Buchanan’s’ tasteful home and the flowing white dresses of Daisy and Jordan Baker. What the old aristocracy possesses in taste, however, it seems to lack in heart, as the East Eggers prove themselves careless, inconsiderate bullies who are so used to money’s ability to ease their minds that they never worry about hurting others.

The Buchanan’s exemplify this stereotype when, at the end of the novel, they simply move to a new house far away rather than condescend to attend Gatsby’s funeral.Gatsby, on the other hand, whose recent wealth derives from criminal activity, has a sincere and loyal heart, remaining outside

Daisy’s window until four in the morning in Chapter VII simply to make sure that Tom does not hurt her. Ironically, Gatsby’s good qualities (loyalty and love) lead to his death, as he takes the blame for killing Myrtle rather than letting Daisy be punished, and the Buchanan’s bad qualities (fickleness and selfishness) allow them to remove themselves from the tragedy not only physically but psychologically.This shows that the upper class of the society has no morals or ethics because they have been corrupted with excessive materialistic wealth. This conveys the materialistic excesses the 1920s and the decline of the American dream.

Secondly, the road from West Egg to New York City exemplifies decay. It is a "valley of ashes," a place of uninterrupted desolation. It is where the rich dump their troubles and this conveys that the rich are immoral and unethical because they’re living in luxury using the valley of ashes as a “bin” whilst the lower class people living in the valley are poor and living in poverty.It is described as; “a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens, where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air” (p.

27) The valley was first introduced in chapter 2. Described as a gloomy land created by the dumping of “industrial ashes,” the valley acquires a sense of decay. It seems as if the rich, men like Tom Buchanan and Gatsby dump their “ashes” (their troubles) in the valley, with nothing but concern for themselves.This connects

with the rest of the book, as Tom and Daisy are seen as a “reckless” couple, and one that only care about themselves.

The eyes of Dr. Eckleburg symbolize in this chapter advertising and materialism gone mad, one of the central themes of the plot. Fitzgerald's description of the drawbridge and passing barges makes an allusion to the River Styx, a mythological river which one crosses to enter the realm of the dead. This descriptions shows that this is a place of poverty and troubles where troubles “dumped” by the rich eggers to rot and die; the valley was the place of murder (Myrtle getting run over by Daisy, chapter 8).The murder was also the result of two rich men, Tom (had an affair with Myrtle) and Gatsby (let Daisy drive). So, the valley of ashes does in fact represent a place of decadence; a place where the rich dump their “ashes” (or troubles).

The novel's only non-wealthy characters live in the valley of ashes; it is the grim underside to the self-indulgence of the Eggs, and of New York City. George Wilson, Myrtle's dejected husband, seems almost already dead “walking through her husband as if he were a ghost. ” (p. 28) and made of ashes: "ashen dust veiled his dark suit and pale hair. This dust that is around and the fact that Wilson is ghostlike portrays how desolate and dead the valley of ashes is. Everything is grey and covered by ashes and in contrast to the rich vibrant colours in East and West Egg, the “valley of ashes” can be seen as a very grim place where people live in poverty

even though they live right next door to people with more wealth than they need (the eggers) This can be related back to the failure of the American dream because even though there is great wealth in the society, it has not been distributed evenly and people are still in poverty.

Fitzgerald represents poverty as lying beneath wealth and providing the wealthy with a dumping ground. It is what the wealthy wish to avoid seeing at all costs. Through the descriptions of the “valley of ashes,” we see how immoral the rich upper class are to just dump their troubles there without thinking about what it might mean for the people living there. They are only caring about their personal comfort.

Thirdly, through the descriptions made of Gatsby, we see the immorality of the society at the time through the illusion of Gatsby’s dream and how the original spiritual aspect of the American dream has gone and made way for xcessive materialism. "He stretched out his arms towards the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. 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. When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished, and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness. " (p.

16) In our first acquaintance with the green light, we see Gatsby reaching out for it, almost, in a way, worshipping it.We find out later that this green light is at the end of Daisy's dock, and is a symbol

for Gatsby's dream and the hope for the future. Green is the color of promise, hope, and renewal - so it is fitting that Gatsby's dream of a future with Daisy be represented physically in the novel by this green light. Later, in the final chapter of this novel, Fitzgerald compares Gatsby's green light to the "green breast of the new world" (115), comparing Gatsby's dream of rediscovering Daisy to the explorer's discovery of America and the promise of a new continent.

However, Gatsby's dream is tarnished by his material possessions, “the colossal significance of that green light had vanished forever,” (p. 90) The means corrupt the end, and Gatsby's dream dies because of Daisy, Gatsby, and Tom's carelessness and superficiality, as does Gatsby for the same reasons. At the end of the first chapter, we see Gatsby reaching out for the green light, a symbol for the hope and promise of the future, almost in the attitude of a worshiper.This is the first suggestion Fitzgerald gives us that Gatsby's quest for Daisy is more than just a physical endeavor, but a spiritual one as well. Also in this chapter, we see Gatsby, after the car accident, looking over Daisy from her yard, trying to protect her.

His watch over her window is compared to a vigil, and while Nick talked to Gatsby that night, he sensed that his presence was ruining the "sacredness" of the moment. However, Gatsby's vigil was over nothing - Daisy was never in her room that night - much like Gatsby's dream is over a nonexistent person.The Daisy he met and fell in love with years ago is not the same

person anymore, and as much as Gatsby thinks that he can repeat the past, in the real world it is proven to be impossible. On one level, Fitzgerald gives us Gatsby's dream as a spiritual quest, but on another level, we find out that this is yet another reason why his dream fails. His faith is misplaced, because the object of his quest is nothing more than Daisy Buchanan. Gatsby is also associated with moonlight/starlight and artificial light.

For example when Jordan is talking about Gatsby with Nick, Gatsby is described as dispensing, “starlight to casual moths,” The starlight/moonlight is representative of the fantasy/illusion or unreachable quality of Gatsby’s dream, this quote is saying that his dream is unreachable and doomed from the beginning because he wants Daisy (the “casual moth”) who is attracted to artificial light which is representative of the material means that he hopes to attract Daisy. There is a lot of proof of this in chapter 5 when Daisy and Gatsby meet for the first time, Gatsby describes the front of his house as, “catching the light,” (p. 7) the front of his house faces Daisy so he is trying to attract Daisy with his vast material wealth which is represented by the artificial light. Even though Gatsby is an, “ecstatic patron of recurring light,” he is giving lots of light to attract Daisy, we know his dream is doomed from the start because Daisy has, “snapped out the lights,” (p.

17) Therefore, Fitzgerald is saying that the spirituality of the American dream is misplaced because of our obsession with material wealth, which creates a sort of national delusion and this conveys

an immoral judgment of the society.Fourthly, the descriptions of the Daisy convey an immoral and unethical judgment of the upper class in society by showing the shallowness, hollowness and idleness of them. When we first meet Daisy at the Buchanan’s mansion, she is described as; “Buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon…their dresses were rippling and fluttering. ” This quote establishes the fact that Daisy is shallow and hollow because they are so purposeless that they just sit there and go where the wind “blows them.

” This is reinforced when it says, “sometimes she and Miss Baker talked at once…their impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire. (p. 17) And when Daisy remarks that, “I’ve been lying on the sofa for as long as I can remember. ” (p.

16) This conveys the idleness and purposeless way of life the Daisy follows. The description of Daisy’s voice also conveys the hollowness and shallowness of Daisy. For example, Nick says that, “her voice compelled me forward breathlessly as I listened-then the glow faded, each light deserting her with lingering regret…her voice glowing and singing. ” (pg.

19) and “as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again. ” (p. 14).These suggest the hollowness of Daisy Buchanan because although her voice and her stunning beauty draw people in. When they “lean in” to hear what she actually has to say, they hear “nothing” because she is empty and hollow. Also, a lot of Daisy’s descriptions are associated with white light.

In the Great Gatsby, white represents emptiness or hollowness. This is associated with Daisy a lot because she

is empty and hollow, for example Nick describes Daisy at Daisy’s house, “They were both in white,” (p. 13) and “white dresses” (p. 17). Another theme that Daisy is associated with is materialistic wealth.For example, Nick says that, “Her voice is full of money.

”(p. 115) She is attracted to money, she is not pure, she is yellow (has a dazzling appeal) eg. “two rows of brass buttons on her dress gleamed in the sunlight. ” We see that the only reason that she is attracted to Gatsby is because of his great material wealth.

We know this because Daisy tells Gatsby that he, “resembles the advertisement of the man,” (p. 114). This statement confirms that Daisy does not like Gatsby for himself, but for the wealth and superficial illusion he represents.Daisy is associated with darkness/twilight, for example she is at the beginning of the novel, she says “why candles? ” and then, “snapped them out with her fingers. ”(p. 17) also while Gatsby is watching for Daisy in case Tom acts violently to her, she, “comes to the window…then turned out the light.

” (p. 140) This is symbolic of Daisy’s “snapping out,” or destruction or Gatsby’s dream because she is turning off the light on Gatsby’s dream and not giving him a chance of fulfilling, therefore the dream is doomed from the start.Daisy is also representative of the American Dream and because she has snapped out the light on Gatsby’s dream, it shows the disintegration of the American Dream. This shows the immorality of Daisy who is representative of the upper class in society because she is so obsessed with materialistic aspect of

the American dream rather than the spiritual aspect. Lastly, we can say that Tom Buchanan, who is another representative of the upper class, is also hollow because of the descriptions given of him.For example, at Tom’s house when Nick first goes over, he suddenly exclaims, “If we don’t look out, the white race will be utterly submerged.

It’s scientific stuff; it’s been proved. ” (p. 18) This racism and utter nonsense shows the shallowness of Tom because not only does he make racist remarks, he doesn’t know what he is talking about when he says that, “it’s been proven. ” Tom’s beliefs are hypocritical but lack moral caliber, compassions and idealism. In the same section, Tom is described as, “hovering restlessly around the room,” (p. 15).

This shows like Daisy, he seems to want to do something but is unsure of what to do. Also, we notice that Tom is associated with words of movement (“shifting" and "moved by “) and this can again be seen in relation to Fitzgerald’s description of him and his wife as wealthy drifters. What is interesting about Tom’s "cruel body" is that normally "cruel" is referred to a person and not to a body. Fitzgerald doesn’t write that Tom is cruel but that his body is cruel, suggesting problematically a separation between his body and his character, as if Tom’s cruel sensuality may assert itself despite his will.The fact that Tom’s "cruel body" comes so close in the text to the description of his muscles almost bursting through his clothes suggests that the purely animal, physical part of his nature (his "cruel body") is capable of bursting out instinctively at

any moment, as indeed it does.

In fact Tom bruises Daisy’s finger and breaks Myrtle Wilson’s nose in a rage. This shows the hollowness of Tom because he can’t control his violence or actions. Tom never considers living up to the standards he expects of people around him.For example, he doesn’t want Gatsby to take Daisy away from him going to great length to “investigate him,” while he is oblivious to the double standard in his practice of maintaining sexual relationships with other women, like Myrtle. Therefore, Tom has values, but they’re conveniences, easily disposed of as the whim takes him and he is only physically powerful.

This shows the shallowness, hollowness of the upper class and conveys the judgment that they are lacking in ethics and morals.

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