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Setting Great Gatsby Essay Research Paper Setting

Setting: Great Gatsby Essay, Research Paper

Setting: As it Prevails in The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby is a novel of the 1920 s, a time of flamboyance, excessiveness,

and ambiguity. To fully capture and document this atmosphere, Fitzgerald spent many a

page concerned with detail. Such descriptions become a stimulus for the story, setting the

mood and pace, the tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses. The characters are directly

linked to their location. Indeed in The Great Gatsby, setting dominates the novel.

Foremost, Fitzgerald chose to set the novel on the East Coast slightly outside New

York City in two contrasting rich suburban areas, West Egg and East Egg. As New York

City was the place to be and make money in the 1920 s, Fitzgerald intently placed his

story around the heart of the era. Additionally, the anxiety that is supposedly predominant

in East Coast cities is also evident. Whenever the characters are in the city, tensions run

high and arguments are frequent.

In turn, the excitement, hype, and activity of the city is countered by the relaxed,

lavish countryside where the characters reside. As one gets further away from the city

geographically, the comforts of the surroundings increase linearly. By using physical

separation, Fitzgerald shows class differences.

In accordance, Fitzgerald sets wealthy characters on one of two eggs. Both hold

an air of fantasy in the illusory concept that money can buy happiness. However, the

dreamlands are different in the means of pecuniary profusion and the level of

responsibility incumbent in their attitudes. Referring to the eggs impending differences

Nick observed, To the wingless a more arresting phenomenon is their dissimilarity in

every particular except shape and size.

Furthest from the city is the East Egg. Being the more fashionable of the two, it is

where those with old money reside. Here Tom and Daisy Buchanon live in a house

Nick chronicled as More elaborate than I expected, a cheerful red and white Georgian

Colonial mansion overlooking the bay. Those dwelling on the eastern egg tend to look

down upon the West Egg, feeling superior having always had money. Their houses are

nice, but not showy, grand, but not excessive.

Closer to the city yet is West Egg, a still highly comfortable environment for those

with new money. West Eggers are apt to show off their newly found fortune in all the

frills. Gatsby s excessively elaborate, gaudy house is on this egg, as is Nick s shack.

Though Nick s meager dwelling is not of par to the other mansions, he retorted, It was a

small eye-sore, and it had been overlooked.

Moreover, the larger contrast is that between the Eggs and the Valley of Ashes.

The contrast is no longer that of the sort of money, but that of the absence of money.

This valley, located between the city and the Eggs, is extremely impoverished. The

picture Fitzgerald paints of this region is a grim and desolate one. It is written that, This

is a valley of ashes- a fantastic farm were 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.

In the Valley of Ashes live the Wilson s, a poor garage owner and his wife. Their

assets exemplify the opposite end of the spectrum. Describing their home above the

garage Nick recounted, The interior was unprosperous and bare: the only car visible was

the dust-covered wreck of a Ford which crouched in a dim corner. The indigence of Mr.

Wilson s surroundings is truly a stark contrast to that of Gatsby s, which Nick claimed

was a colossal affair by any standard.

Furthermore, it is the Valley of Ashes that serves as the mid-way point between

the city and the country. Where the road and the railroad intersect, the fine line is drawn.

From the dreamland of the Eggs, a peaceful escape from the hubbub of the city where

responsibilities are inconsequential, one finds the antithesis of harsh reality. In effect, the

Valley of Ashes is where the major downfall of the story occurs, the point of no return

when Daisy hits Mrs. Wilson.

In turn, as Daisy resides on an Egg, she is able to drift away from liability and

repercussions for her actions. Of this ability Nick said, They were careless people, Tom

and Daisy- they smashed up thing and creatures and then retreated back into their money

or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people

clean up the mess they have made.

In conclusion, Fitzgerald uses setting dominantly to capture the times and reflect

the natures, responsibilities, and classes of the characters in The Great Gatsby. As Nick

recapped, I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all- Tom and Gatsby,

Daisy and Jordan and I, were all westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in

common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.

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