The Great Gatsby: The Strategic Placing by Fitzgerald (w6)
As we all know, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a love story. But, it is not the fact that this is a love story that makes this novel so great, it is how F. Scott Fitzgerald puts this love story into perspective, as well as how he shows the themes of the decline of the American dream as well as the hollowness of the upper class. F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the 1920’s, East and West Egg, the differences between the social classes, and the various symbols.
First, I will give some background of The Great Gatsby, the novel (not to be confused with the film). This book is narrated by Nick Carraway, who moves to New York from Minnesota. He lives in West Egg, which is populated by the new rich. His neighbor is none other than Jay Gatsby, and his cousin, Daisy Buchanan, lives with her husband, Tom Buchanan, in East Egg, which is populated by the old rich. Nick meets Jordan Baker, who is a friend of Daisy and Tom’s. Jordan tells Nick about an affair that Tom is having with a married woman, Myrtle Wilson (married to George Wilson), who lives in the valley of ashes. Nick was later invited to one of Gatsby’s large parties, where Gatsby then tells Nick that him and Daisy were in love when Gatsby was in the war. So, Nick arranged a reunion between Daisy and Gatsby, and their love is rekindled. Tom eventually grows suspicious of Daisy’s affair with Gatsby, and he is completely enraged by this. So, Tom arranges for the group to go to New York City, and he confronts Gatsby in a room at the Plaza Hotel. On the way back from this confrontation, Gatsby’s car hit Myrtle, and killed her. Although it was Daisy who was driving the car, Gatsby takes the blame for this. This ultimately results in Gatsby’s death, because George Wilson assumed it must have been Myrtle’s lover who killed her. So, George kills Gatsby at his mansion, and then himself.
Next, I will give some information on the author, F. Scott Fitzgerald. He went to college at Princeton but ended up dropping out and enlisting in the army during World War 1. Like Gatsby, he met a woman, Zelda, during the war and fell in love with her. But, she wanted a man who was rich and successful. Fitzgerald fell into a wild life of parties while trying to impress Zelda and he wrote books while trying to gain wealth for her. Fitzgerald ultimately died of a heart attack. But, he spent his life trying to impress a woman he loved, just as Jay Gatsby did.
In the 1920’s, a time also known as The Roaring Twenties, it was undoubtedly one of the rowdiest periods in the history of the United States. The way Fitzgerald uses this time period in this novel accents many aspects of life that if he had used any other time period, the way of telling the story of Jay Gatsby would not have been as effective. This was the end of World War 1, so there was a sense of excitement, and there was a new “modern way of living.” This was ultimately a wild and carefree time period. But, this was also the prohibition era. Because of people’s excess drinking and the growing problem of alcohol dependence, the government wanted to eradicate the temptation of liquor, so thus came the prohibition of alcohol. But, this did not stop people from drinking. At parties like Gatsby’s there was still an abundance of alcohol. Part of the reason Gatsby was so rich was because he participated in illegal activities, one of these activities being bootlegging.
The way F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the geography of New York City, the valley of ashes, and East and West Egg show how the society in the 1920’s differs. West Egg, where Gatsby and Nick Carraway live representing the new rich. East Egg, where Tom and Daisy Buchanan live representing old aristocracy. While as New York City represents the desire and quest for money as well as a more lavish lifestyle. But, we then have the valley of ashes, where Tom’s lover and her husband live. This represents the decay of America during this time period.
There are various differences of the social classes at this time. We have Tom and Daisy, who have old money. Fitzgerald places them on East Egg to represent this. Jay Gatsby has new money, so Fitzgerald places him on West Egg. It is also obvious to all the readers that Gatsby does not receive this money fairly, so Fitzgerald makes it very obvious that he is in risky business. On the other hand, there is George and Myrtle Wilson, who live in the valley of ashes. George works, but Fitzgerald makes it obvious that he has no type of money by placing him and Myrtle in the valley of ashes.
Fitzgerald does many things in his writing of The Great Gatsby to make it an extraordinary novel. Without many of the devices he uses, it would not be anywhere near what it is. He strategically uses the time period, geography, social classes, and symbols to make this novel the great novel that it is.