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Three Settings from the Great Gatsby

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Settings are given in every novel being important as it helps the reader understand the story better. The settings in The Great Gatsby are specifically very significant as it superbly fits with the storyline. The story is set in the early 1920s in New york because it focuses on the society of that time and is particularly focused on the factors such as prohibition of alcohol, the glamour of new york and also the way that Tom, Nick Gatsby and daisy all escape from the mid west, a small minded town, and become successful living the American dream. This is compared to the Valley of ashes, where the lower class lives in struggle. What makes the book interesting is that you can get a picture of these societies making it so fresh as Fitzgerald describes New York so well. Fitzgerald explores the social, financial, moral backgrounds and uses the settings in the story to expand on these themes.

The main setting of The Great Gatsby is New York City, Long Island where the story is based in. The Importance of New York is that it represents glamour, wealth and the social community, adding to the characters in the book. The story would have not been the same if it weren’t set in New York, as the charisma of the city has to be conveyed in the story. The American dream for the main characters is represented in this city as described in this quote. “The City seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in tis first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world.” This quote symbolizes how New York is a place where anything can happen, as it is one of the most exciting cities in the world. The significance of New York is of how the story of The Great Gatsby has to be carried out there as it is the epicenter of what goes on in the American society relating to business, economy and social community. Furthermore, the city is important in other ways too; Tom only interacts with his mistress in the city, and Gatsby only sees Meyer Wolfsheim there. They both use the city to hide their goings-on from the people they value on Long Island.

In the story, there is a distinction between West Egg, where Long Island is located, and East Egg on the other side. The people who live in West Egg are considered to be the recently developed wealthy individuals. Moreover, separated by a long river, on the other side is East Egg where people made of generations of wealth live. However, Fitzgerald tells us, in Nicks point of view, directly that East Egg is the wealthier, more elite of the two. Despite all his money, Gatsby lives in West Egg, suggesting that he has not been able to complete his transformation into a member of the social upper class society. Tom and Daisy are apart of the East Egg society being an example of a typical couple living there being overindulged. We learn that Daisy being a mother is not responsible or mature for her age. She introduces her daughter to her friends for a few minutes and then claims “ momma wanted to show you off.” This shows that Daisy being an East sider has taken a lot for granted, she has a nurse to take care of the daughter instead of being a mother herself. The distance that separates Gatsby from Daisy lies across the span of water between their houses – the very distance between West Egg and East Egg, representing a barrier between the two lovers.

Valley of ashes shows the less happier side of the American Dream. Wilson despises the American Dream and has fluffed it, struggling as his business doesn’t work out and his wife leaves him. The whole area is grubby thinking of the Valley of Ashes being one big, grey reality checbk, in contrast to Gatsby’s parties in the more glamorous area. The life of ease and luxury is contrasted sharply with the stranglehold of poverty containing Myrtle and George Wilson or the life from which Jay Gatsby emerged. Furthermore, Myrtle is killed here, making it a valley of death. The Valley of ashes is a industrial, waste land which represents the despair of people who live there as shown in the further quote. “ A fantastic farm where 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 ash- grey men, who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.” Fitzgerald describes almost everything in the Valley of Ashes to be formed by ashes. The definition of ashes is “the remains of something destroyed” symbolizing that everything over there is of despair and disappointment.

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