Settings in the novel can often be meaningful.
F.Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel ‘The Great Gatsby, uses realistic settings within the novel to create a meaningful text. Fitzgerald grew up in the 1920s, also known as the Roaring Twenties or the Jazz Age. This was a time of corruption, the death of the American Dream and Materialism. Settings such as The Valley of Ashes, West Egg and East Egg are used to show the meaning of wealth and its consequences of that.
The author conveys the message that East Egg is also known as the location for those who live off Old Money. Those who live there, have inherited money through generations of wealth, they never had to work for it. The materialistic attitudes of people who are shallow and superficial bring meaning to the text as those attitudes come from the location which they live in. A clear example of this is “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed things up and then retreated back into their money and let other people clean up the mess they had made”. Those in east egg have lifestyles which are free of any problems. They do not care about anyone else but themselves. This links to the symbols of social and moral decay. A further example is “Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water “. This quote from chapter one uses white as a symbol of innocence and purity of those who live in the east egg. As the novel progresses, white becomes symbolic of inequality, unfairness and excessive wealth.
The author then uses another setting in the Great Gatsby to show wealth, but in a different view. West Egg, a location across the bay from East Egg, is home to those who have recently become rich. They earned their money through hard work or illegal business. James Gatsby is an example of someone in the novel who comes from West Egg. He was once poor, but is now wealthy through illegal bootlegging and gambling. He gained a taste for wealth and had a purpose to fit into social classes and society. “
Fitzgerald uses the Valley of Ashes located between West Egg and New York as a symbolism of destruction and corruption of the American Dream. This setting shows the meaning of the quest for material wealth which leaves behind waste, pollution and shattered dreams. Those who live there such as George and Myrtle Wilson. They are forgotten poor underclass people, who failed their pursuit of wealth and their lost hope. “This is a valley of ashes – a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens’'. Fitzgerald uses this quote from chapter 2 to explain the moral social decay in the pursuit of wealth. The ash and dust is a symbol of the failed dreams had by those who live there. The valley of ashes is a place which readers do not like to be reminded of due to our own wealth as it comes with an environmental and personal cost.
The eyes of T.J Eckleburg, located in the Valley of Ashes is another key setting which has a meaningful message. The eyes which are on a billboard next to the Wilsons garage business, look over the valley of ashes. They represent a failed optometry business, which is a result of failed dreams. “The eyes brood on over the solemn dumping ground”. In the Wilson’s tortured mind, the billboard will come to represent a god staring down at the moral wasteland of America. America will be ( in the wilsons mind) judged because of how it has destroyed dreams, people and the natural world.
The settings in the Great Gatsby show meaning in terms of wealth, what it looks like and the consequences of it. East and West eggs are for those with money, new or old. It is not necessarily how much money they had and what they are worth, but how they became wealthy in the first place. The Valley of Ashes shows meaning by showing the readers the consequences of excess wealth and what that does to the environment and people. The meaning of these settings are relevant in today’s society because there are locations in the world that have had the same consequences due to excess wealth around them.
In Fitzgerald’s novel ‘The Great Gatsby”, settings such as West Egg, East Egg and The Valley of Ashes all show meaning in terms of wealth and the consequences of wealth. The settings show a realistic approach to today’s society, where there are different areas known as more wealthy than others. Characters within the novel are blinded by the consequences of their wealth and actions and only care about themselves and what they want.