The Great Gatsby

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The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Author Background
• Francis Scott Fitzgerald born September 24, 1896
• Member of the Princeton Class of 1917
• Joined the Army-stationed in Montgomery Alabama where he
met Zelda Sayre
• Refused to marry him until he could publish This Side of
Paradise
• Published 3/26/1920, week later the couple married
• Part of the literary party scene with Ernest Hemmingway
playwright Gertrude Stein
Author Background Cont.
• Known as an alcoholic , led to slow writing speed
• Critics called him an “irresponsible writer.”
• Main themes focused on aspirations and the American Dream
and domesticity
• Great Gatsby put him on the literary map
• Wrote it in France- Zelda had affair
• 1930-1931-Zelda began dancing led to her mental breakdowns
• Save Me The Last Waltz- Tender is the Night is a response to
this
• Died 12-21-1940-believing himself a failure
• Zelda died 1948 in an asylum fire
• Revival of his works in 1950-1960’s
Context
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Published in 1925
Prohibition became law in 1920
19th Amendment gave women the right to vote
Modeled Gatsby, and the Buchanan's after his wife’s lover and the relationship
between himself and his life.
• Triggered ideals of disillusionment after soldiers returned from the war as they dealt
with PTSD and brought the party scene of Europe to America
• coined the term Jazz Age, which denoted an era of ragtime, jazz, stylish automobiles,
and “uninhibited young women with bobbed hair and short skirts”
• " Fitzgerald wrote, "It was an age of miracles, it was an age of art, it was an age of
excess, and it was an age of satire."
Setting
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East and West Egg, Long Island New York
West Egg-poorer side (Nick Caraway)
East Egg-Beverly Hills of Long Island (Buchannan's, Gatsby)
Symbolizes the grandeur and dichotomy of the American Dream
Novel also travels to Gatsby’s time in the war and arrival in New York
Plot Summary: Eggs Cracked
• Nick Carraway, a recent Yale
graduate returns home to West
Egg to start a career
• Neighbors to the mysterious Jay
Gatsby
• Invited to the home of his cousin
Daisy and her husband Tom
Buchanan on East Egg.
• Meets Jordan Baker, the golf pro
who Daisy wants him to date
• Nick notices that Daisy is
unhappy in her marriage,
desperate to escape domesticity
• Tom gets a call from a mysterious
woman, his mistress Myrtle
Wilson
Plot Synopsis: Dichotomy of
Domesticity
• Tom takes Nick to Queens to meet Myrtle
• The relationship is permitted by Tom and Myrtle’s friends
because both were “vastly unhappy in their marriages.”
• Myrtle mocks Daisy and Tom beats her to Nick’s horror
• Weeks later, Nick and Jordan attend a Gatsby party, shocked
that few of the guests actually know him and gossip that he is
an Anti-Semite, and a murderer.
• Nick meets Gatsby who asks him to lunch the next day
Plot
Synopsis: The “Great” Gatsby
At lunch with Gatsby and Jordan the next day, Nick learns that Gats
attended Oxford University and that his family is “all dead now.”
Meets Meyor Wolfsham, who with Gatsby’s help, fixed the world
series in 1919.
On the car ride back to West Egg, Nick notices that Gatsby’s hand is
shaking and that his “whole statement had fallen to pieces.”
Gatsby reveals that Daisy Buchannan was the only woman he had
ever loved and that they had a relationship five years prior to when
he joined the war.
Plot Synopsis: “Red Light, Green Light”
• Gatsby built his house to be closer to Daisy and to watch her from afar
• The Green light at the end of the dock symbolizes Gatsby’s hopes that they will
one day still be able to be together
• Daisy and Gatsby reunite and their relationship begins once again
• Daisy and Tom attend one of Gatsby’s parties and Daisy becomes overwhelmed
with emotion
• The party moves to the Buchannan’s house but Daisy declares that they should
move to a hotel to escape the heat.
• Much to Tom’s dismay, Daisy rides in Gatsby’s yellow car with him, while Tom is
forced to drive Nick and Jordan.
• On the way into town, Tom meets with Tom Wilson who has locked Myrtle in the
house because of her continued affair.
Plot Summary: Summer Heat and Heated
Tempers
• The party moves to the Plaza Hotel
where Tom confronts Daisy about her
relationship with Gatsby.
• Gatsby brings Daisy to an ultimatum:
she must choose to be with Tom or
himself.
• Daisy is unable to make a decision
and runs away with Gatsby.
• Furious, on the way home, Daisy
seizes control of the car from Gatsby
and hits Myrtle Wilson who instantly
dies.
• Back at the Buchanan’s home, Tom
and Daisy flee Long Island unable to
face responsibility for their actions
Plot Summary: The Great
Gatsby’s Last Illusion
• Determined to avenge his wife’s
death, George Wilson sneaks into
Gatsby’s backyard and murders
both himself and Gatsby.
• Nick (now separated from
Jordan) notifies Gatsby’s father
of his son’s death.
• Gatsby refused to meet with
father because he wanted to get
rid of his past.
• Few present at the funeral (Owl
Eyes)
• Nick reflects upon his
experiences with Gatsby and
realizes albeit loathingly, the
truth of his character.
Character Analysis: Nick
Carraway
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29-30 Yale Grad
Cousins with Daisy and Tom
Narrator of the story
Comes of age (loss of innocence)
Moral compass of the novel
Conflicted both about Daisy and
Gatsby and Tom and Myrtle
• Unable to decide whether or not
Gatsby is to be trusted
• Gatsby creates him as a father
figure to replace his own.
• Relationship with Jordan Baker
harmed by her supremely
feminist ways.
Character Analysis: Jay Gatsby
• Originally known as James Gatz
• From North Dakota
• Taken in by Dan Cody, a wealthy
tycoon from whom Gatsby
inherited his wealth
• Fell in love with Daisy
Buchannan shortly before
leaving to fight in WWI
• Moved to West Egg in order to
see her across the bay
• Relentlessly lives in the past
and ultimately gives up his life
for Daisy hoping that she will
love him again.
• Don Draper esque
Character Analysis: Daisy
Buchannan
• Femme fatal
• Yearns to be an independent
woman, suitable for her
intelligence but is stuck in her
domestic life.
• “I’m glad it’s a girl, and I hope
she’ll be a fool– that’s the best
that a a girl can be in this
world– a beautiful fool.” (17).
• Ironically, she decides to stay
with Tom after the vehicular
homicide of Myrtle Wilson.
• Reader asks whether or not she
truly loves Gatsby or if she is
playing him to get what she
ultimately wants (The death of
Myrtle Wilson).
Character Analysis: Tom
Buchanan
• Devoted husband of Daisy
Buchannan
• Has an open affair with
Myrtle Wilson
• Breaks Myrtle’s nose when
she mention’s Daisy’s name
• Conniving, quick to anger
• Quick to leave Nick and
Gatsby when the going gets
tough
• Isolates himself from Daisy
when he finds out about her
affair
• Symbolizes the double
standard between male and
female adultery.
Character Analysis: Jordan
Baker
• Golf pro
• Independent, stands up to men
• Career tanked after she was
caught in a cheating scandal
(possibly result of living in male
dominated society).
• Nick’s love interest throughout
the novel
• Finally breaks up with Nick after
he is unable to rise above his
morality to help Daisy and Tom
in their predicament.
• Partially the reason Nick
“hates” Gatsby
Character Analysis: Myrtle
Wilson
• Pleasantly plump
mistress of Tom
Buchannan
• Symbol for the blunt of
domesticity’s rage
• Beaten by both her
husband and lover
• Death at the hands of
Daisy Buchanan
symbolizes the
inescapability of
domesticity.
Minor Characters
• George Wilson-the husband of Myrtle Wilson. He ultimately
kills Gatsby, blaming him for his wife’s death
• Meyer Wolfsheim- Gatsby’s friend who famously rigged the
1919 world series. He causes Nick’s first uncertainties about
Gatsby
• Catherine-Myrtle’s sister who accepts Tom and Myrtle’s affair
later condemns Tom after her sister’s death
• Owl Eyes- a drunken partygoer who attends Gatsby’s funeral
• Dan Cody- Gatsby’s provider
• Henry C. Gatz-Gatsby’s estranged father
• Dr. T. J. Eckleburg- a pair of eyes on a billboard seen
throughout Long Island
• Pammy Buchannan-Daisy and Tom’s daughter
Themes and Motifs
• Eyes
• Domesticity is impossible to escape even with
independence
• The American Dream can be found, but at a price
• The unfulfilled dream of the past can ruin the present
but may provide insight towards the future
• Glamour in the Prohibition Era
• PTSD and the Aftermath of war
• Omnipresence of Society
Rhetorical and Literary Devices
• Polysydeton-“They knew that presently dinner would be over,
and soon the evening would be over and all would be put
away.” (12).
• Also used to emphasize the grandeur of Gatsby’s parties (40).
• Symbolism
• Dr. T. J. Eckleburg-symbol for God’s omnipotence.
• Imagery-used to heighten the plight of domesticity
• “The only completely stationary object in the room was an
enormous couch on which two women were buoyed up as
though upon an anchored balloon.” (8).
Passage Analysis
“ And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of
Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of
Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream
must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did
not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast
obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled
on under the night.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by
year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter– tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine
morning---So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into
the past.” (180).
In his novel, The Great Gatsby, how does Fitzgerald use imagery and
other rhetorical devices to provide a concluding ending on a thematic
symbolic and psychological level?
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