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Notes on The Great Gatsby

Notes on The Great Gatsby

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Published by Miss_M90
Coursework Notes on 'The Great Gatsby' by Fitzgerald.
Coursework Notes on 'The Great Gatsby' by Fitzgerald.

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Published by: Miss_M90 on Mar 27, 2010
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CLASS WORK 
The Great Gatsby
 The 1920s
The influence of Jazz Music was enormous. It was the start of the breakdown of strict barriers, it created a major influence on social and culture, and it reflects howwomen’s roles were beginning to change.In 1931, an article called ‘Echoes of the Jazz Age’; Fitzgerald identified other  peculiarly American characteristics of the 1920s:
We were the most powerful nation. Who could tell us any longer what was fashionable and what was fun?...…the generation which had been adolescent during the confusion of the War,brusquely shouldered my contemporaries out of the way and danced into thelimelight. This was the generation whose girls dramatised themselves as flappers, the generation that corrupted its elders and eventually overreached itself less throughlack of taste.That was the peak of the younger generation, for though the Jazz age continued, it became less and les an affair of youth… A whole race going hedonistic, deciding on pleasure…The word jazz in its progress towards respectability has meant first sex, then dancing then music. It is associated with a state of nervous stimulation, not unlike that of big cities behind the lines of war… In any case, the Jazz Age now raved along under itsown power, served by great filling stations full of money… It was borrowed timeanyhow – the whole upper tenth of a nation living with insouciance of grand dukesand the casualness of chorus girls…
 NB: Insouciance means impudence, insolenceThe metaphorical use of ‘filling stations full of money’ and ‘borrowed time’ reflects back on some key issues in the novel. For example, by the early 1920s the motor carswere a newly established feature of American life that represented affluence andseemed to offer a new freedom. It has an important presence in the novel, as it is botha status and destructive agent.Time is a central concept to the novel for example Jazz itself is linked with this.Fitzgerald has deliberately developed his story during the Jazz age (for the number of reasons stated in italics above). It was an authoritative and authentic voice of the period that is not only has a place in history but it is the modern art form to express it.
It was an essentially an American one
.
NEW YORK – Background Info
 
CLASS WORK  New York State used to be a battleground of revolutionary war. It was the ‘place to be’, and soon becoming a place of new fashion and excitement that attracted many of the wealthy classes.The story is set in the aftermath of the First World War, and this gives the expressionto a mood of disillusion with the institutions of society and despair at its loss of values.America was beginning to assert its identity in an international context. Jazz, amusical medium with its roots in the lives of poor black Americans and owing no debtto European traditions, was creating a new style. The skyscrapers were an essentiallyAmerican phenomenon. The American film industry, more than any other, was beginning to create a mass culture, which exercised an international influence inshaping ordinary people’s images of themselves.American soon constituted to a cultural phenomenon, New York was the new pivot tosuch activity, and ‘The Great Gatsby’ gives significance to the city as a magnet in the post-war years.When reading the Great Gatsby, we are focused on the elite group, the wealthy class.America did not have a monarchy. The 1920s was also a time where many newinventions were taking place such as the dishwasher (only for rich women). It openedmany doors, opportunities, and possibilities. Lavish consumption and self-indulgent(hedonistic) display were acceptable activities in the 1920s.Gerald and Oscar Wilde were very caught up with the privilege in their world but hadthe insight to see through it, and to see what it did to people. It came to a point wherethey thought life was empty once they could have anything they wanted. New York lures all the characters, just as it initially drew Nick from the exemplars of the success he wants to achieve in stock broking. On page 56-7, Nick hurries ‘downthe white chasms of lower New York to the Probity Trust’ he is in pursuit of suchfabulous wealth as theirs. Yet New York also appeals to Nick in all its social varietyand vitality. He enjoys the ‘racy, adventurous feel of it at night…gives to the restlesseye.’ (pg 57)He responds to the sense of romance in it for example, ‘…at eight o’clock, when thedark lanes of the Forties were lined….bound for the theatre district.’It is clear that the New York situated in the novel pulses with life. The city is filledwith light and colour, for example on that ‘almost pastoral’ Sunday afternoon (Ch 2).Another example includes when ‘the later afternoon sky bloomed in the window for amoment like the blue honey of the Mediterranean’. (pg 36)
West Egg & East Egg 
 
CLASS WORK West Egg can be seen as representing vulgarity and formlessness, as opposed to theformality and style of East Egg. New York acts as a magnet to both those possessingestablished wealth and those eagerly in pursuit of it. All three locations are the product of the fabulous wealth that modern society creates. But such a precise fixingof their social status and identity in the historical context of the 1920s alone wouldlimit their role and so no justice to Fitzgerald’s handling of them. In the novel, theyare ambivalent locations, which by the processes of Nick’s imagination attain their own particular radiance, for his relationship with them constantly changes.They therefore exist in the time in Nick’s or Gatsby’s experience. Products of wealththemselves some at least of their appeal to the observing eye of Nick or Gatsby existsin that wealth. Just as Gatsby’s imagination transfigures his hose into a place of enchantment, so Nick, a young man setting out to make his fortune, perceives themwith a fresh, optimistic eyes of youthful hope.Yet in his role of narrator after the events of 1922 are over, he adds a note of moralawareness, which marks him as receptive to the realities under the glittering surface. Nick’s dual role of participant and subsequent narrator is an important factor in therepresentation of these locations.East Egg in contrast observes the rules of formality and tradition, at least on thesurface of life. The Buchanans’ world is exclusive, opulent and self-regarding. Itrepresents the status of inherited wealth and power to which the inhabitants of WestEgg are denied access. The ‘white palaces’ glitter along the shoreline, but there is animplication that they are rather like whited sepulchres (tomb, grave, vault) inhabited by people who are just as careless and socially indifferent as the ones who come toGatsby’s parties, but their inhabitants live with more style. Nick criticises them on page 170, ‘They are careless people’.
 SOURCE 
 
: Penguin, Critical Studies by Kathleen Parkinson
 
Chapter 1
Page 8
Gatsby hooked up to a machine linked to something that measures the severity of anearthquake. This is a strange comparison, why did the author write such a thing?It may represent that he has a ‘larger than life’ kind of character, has the awareness todetect even the smallest tremors that may shake society or cause a stir. It is very irony, possibly dangerous as if he is chained to the machine – seeking out large events. Itreally makes readers think ‘Who is Gatsby?’ We feel we want to know him since hischaracter is surrounded with enigma.‘My family have…’ – Nick could have a larger than life persona as well. He wants people to stick to simple morals; he is a man of principles. On the very firstimpression we instantly take a liking to him, we feel in favour for him. His judgementis neutral and allows us, readers to judge the characters and events for ourselveswithout such a degree of bias presented. From the quote, we could interpret that hehas the desire that society would just return to simply basic morals that conducted

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