Please may I have some feedback on my Gatsby essay? Thanks

The most powerful texts are those that teach us moral lessons.

Great writers create powerful texts that teach their readers moral lessons. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, ‘The Great Gatsby’, readers are able to become aware of the dangers of materialism, having obsessive and unattainable dreams, and trying to be someone you are not. F. Scott Fitzgerald does this by using a range of imagery such as The Valley of Ashes, the Green light, Gatsby’s library, and West and East Egg.

‘The Great Gatsby’ is set in New York during the 1920s American Jazz Age. It is told through the lens of Nick Carraway, the son of a wealthy family and shows his experiences with the old rich (his cousin Daisy and her husband Tom Buchanan) and the new rich. (Jay Gatsby, a self made millionaire who gained his riches by bootlegging alcohol during prohibition in America) Readers will be led to learn the moral implications and consequences of materialism, and how it corrupts the human soul.

Firstly, F. Scott Fitzgerald teaches his readers a moral lesson through the imagery of the Valley of Ashes, a desolate wasteland between West Egg and New York, which represents the disgusting leftovers of industrialisation. ‘The Valley of Ashes, a fantastic farm where ash grows like wheat into hills and ridges, and grotesque gardens’. The Valley of Ashes is symbolic of the destruction and corruption of the American Dream.

The Valley of Ashes is a place that we as readers don’t want to be reminded of - as it reminds us of the ugly leftovers and destruction caused by our materialistic habits. Words like ash, grey, and dust create a dismal feeling and show us that socialist, materialistic societies cause destruction. F. Scott Fitzgerald is teaching his readers the moral lesson that there are deep consequences that are born from materialism and thirsting over wealth and possessions. Fitzgerald teaches us that by being overly materialistic, we are destroying the world around us and crushing dreams. Not only does it destroy our environment, but it destroys the human spirit too.

Above the Valley of Ashes is a huge billboard, advertising a forgotten optometry practice. The imagery of Doctor TJ Eckleburg’s huge blue eyes and gold spectacles on the billboard come to represent a “god” staring down at the wasteland of society. Fitzgerald is teaching his readers the moral lesson that society will one day be judged for our selfish and destructive materialism and the waste we leave behind because of it. Fitzgerald is inciting his readers to reflect on our spending habits and materialistic actions. He shows us that materialism comes at an environmental and personal cost.

Secondly, F. Scott Fitzgerald teaches his readers a moral lesson through the use of the imagery of the Green light, a light that Gatsby can see across the water that shines from the edge of the Buchanan mansion’s dock. This light symbolises an impossible dream. Gatsby’s dream of becoming a part of the old rich is an obsessive one - and he thinks that Daisy Buchanan, an affluent lady who he shared a brief summer with before being deployed into the military, is the missing piece for his dream to be complete. However, Gatsby isn’t really who he appears to be, he is merely the crushed dreams of a poor 17 year old James Gatz. Gatsby’s dream is not attainable, and he cannot possibly reach his version of the American Dream because he is not the man he says he is. He can’t reach his dream because he can’t even accept his true self, (a man who grew up very poor) and even renames himself from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby. If he can’t accept who he really is, no one will ever accept him to be part of the old rich.

Fitzgerald is teaching his readers the moral lesson through the use of the imagery of the Green light that obsessive unattainable dreams are impossible dreams if we have to become someone else to reach them. Gatsby’s dream was predestined to fail because of his humble beginning, and in the 1920s, it was scandalous for a person belonging to the old rich like Daisy to be with someone like Gatbsy. We are taught that having obsessive, unattainable dreams just takes us on a never ending cycle of never being reached - and we will eventually drive ourselves crazy.

Furthermore, F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the symbolism of Gatsby’s library to teach his readers a moral lesson. When Nick walks into Gatsby’s library at a party, a drunk man says, “they’re real”, referring to the books on the shelves. This is important because back in the 1920s, even extremely wealthy people did not actually have real books in their libraries, but rather fake ones as it was pretty excessive and expensive.
This shows the readers just how desperate Gatsby is to be accepted in society. He is trying to “prove” he belongs to old money by going to extreme lengths such as actually filling the shelves of his library with hundreds - maybe thousands - of real books, when in reality he is a bootlegging criminal.

F. Scott Fitzgerald is teaching his readers the moral lesson of appearance vs reality. This links to social media in our modern world - where many people pretend to be something they’re not. Social media is merely a platform people use to desperately try to fit into society’s “norms”. People fear that if they show their true selves to the word, they will be rejected by society. (In Gatsby’s case, the “old rich”) Fitzgerald is teaching us that we fear we will become outcasts if we don’t present ourselves in the best light possible because we are afraid we will become outcasts. Therefore, we follow crows and don’t stray from “normality”. However, this is dangerous because our sense of self becomes warped and our human spirit starts to shatter.

Finally, F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the imagery of West and East Egg to teach his readers a moral lesson. The two “eggs” are separated by water, which represents the division between the upper class societies of the new rich and old rich. People like Daisy, who belong to old money, pretend to be important and have class, having been born into wealth. However, they live characterless and meaningless lives that only revolve around money. ‘Tom and Daisy were careless people - who smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money’

While Tom and Daisy, among others who live on East Egg, seem to have amazing and extravagant lives, their lives are actually filled with scandal and chaos. The Buchanans both cheat on each other whilst simultaneously worshiping money. Fitzgerald is teaching his readers the moral lesson that materialism corrupts the human soul and spirit. It is ironic that there are many modern icons today who have excessive loads of money and live in huge mansions, yet there are poor homeless people who don’t even have a roof over their heads. F. Scott Fitzgerald teaches us that thirsting over wealth corrupts and transforms us into monsters who use money as a means of getting what we want, in a selfish and destructive way.

In conclusion, great writers create powerful texts that teach readers moral lessons, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, ‘The Great Gatsby’ provides a perfect case for this testimony. Fitzgerald incites his readers to think about the moral implications of materialism through various imagery, and how it leads to the corruption of the soul and destruction of the American Dream.

Kia ora sarahherbst2004

Lots of strong analysis through here! Generally, you unpack the statement well and make it clear that you agree. In your intro, you might strengthen this by adding a line after your first lie clarifying WHY you think great texts teach their readers moral lessons before moving onto discussion of Gatsby.

Look at your structure - this is quite broken up and many of your paragraphs actually belong together - eg the paragraph starting "Firstly, F. Scott Fitzgerald " with the para starting “The Valley of Ashes is a place that we as readers” and “Above the Valley of Ashes is a huge billboard,” - really all three of these would be one connected paragraph.

I would also aim to be a bit more evaluative in places - try some adverbs like The author “cleverly” “powerfully” “successfully” “effectively” etc

Aside from this - a very strong essay with some strong analysis, some perception and insight in your evaluation of purpose and connections beyond the text. Well done