Setting Of The Great Gatsby Essay

1082 words - 4 pages

The settings and backdrops in The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, are essential elements to the formation of the characters, symbolic imagery and the overall plot development. Fitzgerald uses East and West Egg communities to portray two separate worlds and two classes of people that are technically the same their status, but fundamentally different in their ideals. The physical geography of the settings is representative of the distance between classes of the East and West Eggers. Every setting connotes a different tone and enhances the imagery of story line. From the wealthy class of the "eggs", the desolate "valley of ashes", to the chaos of Manhattan. The imagery provided by Fitzgerald becomes an important tool in establishing the characters and their story.
The separation between the east and the west shows the division between the people who are from each side. Generally, the West Coast represents a more laissez-faire attitude and is seen as the "new" land or world. Many people have dreamt of "going west" in search of a new life or vast treasures in the "wild" lands. Fitzgerald associates these qualities of the West with the characters Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby, who live on the West Egg. On the other side of the spectrum lie Tom Buchanan, Daisy, and Jordan Baker. These characters are associated with a stereotypical East Coast mindset which is more strict, traditional and ancestrally based, as opposed to the "new" and "wild" West. They resent anything that is unfamiliar to them such as the West Eggers with "new money" and no traditions. The distance and mindset of the East and West are symbolically integrated into the East Egg and West Egg which are representative of the social class of which the characters come from.
The physical settings establish the identities of the characters through their wealth and houses. The West Eggers represent the social class of the nouveau riche, people who have made fortunes recently in their generation instead of having inherited wealth. The East Eggers have had money in their blood for many generations and have an established presence in their community. The houses of both classes are evidence to this fact. Gatsby's mansion is designed in an newer European style unlike the Buchanan's more colonial style house and is decorated with gold and lavish items intended to "show off" his wealth. "…period bedrooms swathed in rose and lavender silk and vivid with new flowers. Through dressing rooms and poolrooms, and bathrooms with sunken baths. The dresser was garnished with a toilet set of pure dull gold. P.96-97" Tom and Daisy also live in a mansion which is Georgian Colonial, which establishes their status as "old money" characters. The people living in the "valley of the ashes" depict a third class. The "valley of ashes is described as " a fantastic farm where ashes grow like...

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