The GATSBY Essay, Research Paper
The Great Gatsby
Juxtaposing two scenes in a narrative allows them to be easily compared and contrasted. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, two such scenes require specific attention. The impromptu party that is thrown by Tom Buchanan and his mistress, Myrtle Wilson, followed immediately by Jay Gatsby’s party at his house, call for the attention of the reader because of the implications of these contiguous scenes. The result of analyzing the two scenes is that one can infer certain qualities of each man’s character. By paying specific detail to the d?cor of the parties, the respect that each character commands from people at their parties, the guests who arrive at the parties, and the overall purpose of hosting the party, one can deduce that Tom and Gatsby are polar opposites.
The first element of the parties that should be examined is the d?cor of Myrtle Wilson’s apartment compared to that of Gatsby’s house. In the first line describing the apartment, the narrator, Nick Carraway, informs the reader of the lack of comfort in the apartment and the ensuing awkwardness of the setting: “The apartment was on the top floor – a small living room, a small dining room, a small bedroom and a bath” (33). Nick’s description makes it amazingly clear to the reader how unhappy and unpleasant the situation was, not only for himself, but for Tom and Myrtle, as well as the other guests in attendance, Catherine, Myrtle’s sister, and the McKees, neighbors who live in the same building. One can imagine the walls virtually closing in because of the overcrowding furniture, the overpowering size and strength of Tom and his ego, and the oversized picture of Myrtle’s mother. Tom is a large figure who is awkward, unintelligent, and curt; therefore, situations that involv!
e him adopt his negative attributes. Even the literature that is scattered about the room is a reflection of Tom’s character. “Simon Called Peter” and “Town Tattle” are the only available items to read and they are of an extremely unintelligent nature. Gossip magazines and this popular immoral novel (209) are telling evidence of Tom’s immaturity.
When contrasting Tom and Myrtle’s set of rooms to Gatsby’s mansion, it is immediately possible to see the differences in their lifestyles. Tom and Myrtle’s apartment is as tiny as his character, and Gatsby’s house and character are equally enormous in comparison. This argument is founded in the description of Gatsby’s house. The reader can gain an understanding of the size of the party from Nick’s (and Jordan Baker’s) attempt to find their host, Gatsby. “The bar, where we glanced first, was crowded but Gatsby was not there. She couldn’t find him from the top of the steps, and he wasn’t on the veranda. On a chance, we tried an important-looking door, and walked into a high Gothic library, panelled with carved English oak, and probably transported complete from some ruin oversees” (49). Gatsby’s house was obviously palatial with an air of dignity, class, and confidence. This description can be applied to Gatsby as well.
Another point of contrast is the respect that each character commands from his hired helpers. Tom and Myrtle do not have a butler or a maid in their apartment, but they make a point of trying to command respect from one of the bellhops in the building. When Tom says, “You McKees have something to drink. Get some more ice and mineral water, Myrtle, before everybody goes to sleep” he is showing his dominance over Myrtle to the other guests. However, Myrtle tries to avoid the servile role by deflecting her responsibility to others when she replies: “I told that boy about the ice.Those people! You have to keep after them all the time” (36). The only problem with this pretense is that there is no other person who will listen to his or her requests. They make demands, but nobody obeys them. In the end, there is no evidence that anybody follows through with this order and nobody actually g
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