The Great Gatsby Essay - Feedback Please

A character who overcomes difficulties becomes more engaging

F. Scott Fitzgerald grew up in St Paul, Minnesota during the 1920s Jazz Age, as well as the time of The Decline of the American Dream. Fitzgerald’s iconic novel “The Great Gatsby” gave readers a feel of what materials — wealth — social status was like in the 1920s and how they can relate to it in today’s society.

James Gatz, the novel’s main character, faced difficulties in his life, and then soon changed his name to Jay Gatsby. He uses James to explain his unpleasant past which he was embarrassed by and how he overcame that to become The Great Jay Gatsby. While making Gatsby Great again he faces the reality of not being able to live up to the fantasy he has built for himself, and having to reveal his reality of himself.

Jay Gatsby was not who he was said to be. “His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people”. "His real name was James Gatz, who grew up poor, unsuccessful and embarrassed of his life. James changed his name when he was seventeen. He did it out of a “platonic conception” of himself, to help rebuild his identity and to leave behind his poor upbringing. “So be invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent and to his conception, he was faithful to the end.” Dan Cody, a rich man who took Gatsby as a son of his own – taught him manners and lived as an upper-class person. With this, Gatsby believes that his new identity is a chance to live up to his fantasy expectation of who he wants to be and what he wants people to see him as. Many people in the world believe that they have expectations to live up to, things to buy to fit into society and to be this perfect person that everyone likes and wants to be. Society itself from the 1920s has not changed now.

Gatsby, born into the lower class, experienced wealth and learnt the knowledge and manners of the upper class through his inspiration, Dan Cody. Serving in the war and attending Oxford university brought Gatsby to meet Daisy Buchanan who he instantly fell in love with. Although, on his return from the war, Gatsby later discovered she was now married. This was a particular difficulty that he faced. His one goal was to win Daisy back, he was driven by desire where his life now had a purpose. The novel itself links to society in a catholic vs materialist way. Catholics have a purpose in life, to love god and to love others. Gatsby is a materialist, he doesn’t have a purpose in life and he has to find his own in order to live his life. Daisy was his purpose. Some readers can relate to this and it makes them more engaged as they can relate to Gatsby. They are in need to find a purpose in life, and things like chasing a woman or man could be that purpose. Gatsby’s difficulty of wanting to get Daisy back becomes engaging to readers as they see themselves in Gatsby.

Making Gatsby Great again. Gatsby started with no money. With growing up around wealth and the manners of the upper class; Gatsby had no actual money of his own. Gatsby gained his wealth through bootlegging and gambling, through Meyer Wolfsheim. His wealth brought him a mansion in West Egg, for those of the newly rich. This drove him to throw lavish parties to build himself a reputation. They were not his friends, but the parties were an excuse; to drink alcohol and party. A symbol of his wealth was the library, which had real books. This shows the lengths to which Gtabsy would go to maintain the illusion that he exists. “Muttering that if one brick was removed the whole library was liable to collapse”. This is significant to Gatsby’s life because if one piece of Gatsby’s lie was revealed, the whole illusion will vanish to reveal the truth of James Gatz.

Gatsby’s love for Daisy drives the plot of the novel. The author conveys the message that Gatsby fell in love with Daisy and the wealth in she represents. The difficulty he faced was the marriage between Daisy and her husband Tom. “They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such—such beautiful shirts before.” Daisy’s tears symbolised the guilt that she felt. Daisy could not fulfil Gatsby’s unrealistic expectations of this “fantasy girl”. This is significant because Gatsby accomplished so much, just to live up to her expectations – so she would love him. Despite Gatsby doing everything to win over Daisy, the barrier he faced was Tom. Daisy loved Tom and Gatsby. “Daisy began to move again with the season”. The effect of the weather motif symbolises the death of Gatsby’s dream first time. Autumn is the dying season and the death of dreams.

The reality of Gatsby. Gatsby, can not wake up from his dream — the past— to accept his reality. “A promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy wing”. This determines that the author wants the readers to see the reality of Gatsby was assembled as a fantasy. Gatsby compares himself to God. Someone who can accomplish the impossible. Gatsby is sightless of the world — only caring about what people think of him, and his one goal is to be with Daisy. The Appearance vs Reality theme within the novel brings out the difficulties that Gatsby faces. Gatsby was ashamed of his difficulties and the reality of the past, so he presented himself differently. Gatsby wore the colour white – innocence – purity–, to show hide the fact that everything he did was illegal and corrupt.

Jay Gatsby’s death is a symbol of dead dreams. Gatsby’s death is profound because his dream was to be with Daisy, which he revolved his whole life around. His Death was a symbol of, how his dream was now gone and he had no purpose in life. Gatsby’s death was also a symbol of the American Dream. It establishes the reader to think that no matter who you are — how hard you work — or what you forfeit — you plainly can not make a certain dream come true. The American Dream powerfully reinforces the concept that a person’s prosperity relies on not only luck but on taking risks in order to accomplish difficulties. “If that was true, he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream”. This quote from chapter 8 is significant because it explains the idea that Gatsby’s life was meaningless without a dream, and that his death was not that important. His death is a metaphor, no dream — no life.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” uses Jay Gatsby’s life difficulties to make the reader more engaged. Gatsby’s early life of James Gatz, his stint in the army and attending university, spending 3 years making money illegally all to help work towards his dream of being with Daisy Buchanan. His main obstacle Tom makes it hard for Gatsby to do this and overall makes his dream fail. Gatsby can not accept the reality of who he is and his life and his only purpose was to marry Daisy. His death symbolised the death of dreams and reinforces the idea to readers that not even hard work can make them accomplish a dream.

Kia ora njellyman

A great text to write about here - most of the feedback below is specifically about how you are using this knowledge to respond to the question.

In your introductory statements, I would suggest hitting on that part of the question “becomes more engaging” - you would want to break down WHY someone who overcomes difficulties might be more engaging to read about than someone who hasn’t, before launching into analysis of Jay. It is unclear at the moment if you agree with the statement or not.

Throughout this whole essay, while you obviously have a great understanding of the novel itself and lots of great evidence. However, you waver away from the question you are answering, which makes your argument less compelling. At level three a marker wants to see a focused argument, which means that you don’t want to have a whole bunch of stuff that doesn’t contribute to your thesis. EG in your last body paragraph, Gatsby does NOT overcome his difficulties - you need to work out how you want this to fit into your argument.

It would be good to go through this essay and each paragraph, and consider - am I specifically unpacking a difficulty faced by Gatsby and how he overcomes it? Have I then analyzed WHY this is engaging for an audience? You have lots of stuff about various plot points and themes, but do not really tie back to your essay statement - a good way to think about/structure each part might be “Gatsby overcomes a difficulty - this helps us understand a theme/idea - this is therefore engaging because…”

I suggest incorporating explicit mention of the author more throughout too, along with evaluation of what he is doing - “Fitzgerald cleverly presents Gatsby as…” “The author then engages the reader successfully through the way…”

Hope that helps - Keep practicing with a range of questions to ensure you are tailoring your argument for a range of different topics :slight_smile: