Significant Connections Essay

In society today people create false personas so others can not see their true selves. I will be discussing how the characters in The Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Breakfast Club directed by John Hughes, Graceling written by Kristen Cashore and The Landlady written by Roald Dahl display their own false personas created to protect them from others thoughts and opinions.
The Great Gatsby follows the lives three main characters living in upper-class New York City during a summer in the 1920’s. The novel revolves around the narrator Nick Carraway, who has just moved to New York, his neighbour, the illusive Jay Gatsby and the woman he has been chasing for the last five years, Daisy Buchanan. In the beginning, Daisy is depicted as being the perfect, upper-class trophy wife. She is seen as someone to aspire to be like, constantly happy and having everything her heart could possibly desire. However, as the story progresses we understand that it is all a facade, ” ‘Her voice was full of money,’ “. All Daisy has ever been is rich, using materialistic objects to hide the lack of any true emotions or enjoyment in her life. The wealth is just a front used to distract people, so they don’t look any deeper and discover that it is all this image she has crafted of herself, to cover the truth. The truth that she a shallow person who relies on materialistic objects to bring meaning to her life. “She vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life …”  Her life isn’t full, it’s empty. Her husband is having an affair and she can’t bring herself to leave him, to be with the man she supposedly ‘loves’ because she refuses to give up the image of herself that being with her husband has helped her uphold. The reader learns from this that after years of maintaining a false persona, eventually the person becomes the persona and it is almost impossible for them to return to their original selves.
The Breakfast Club is about five individual teenagers from different social cliques who wouldn’t normally interact with each other, but are forced to spend a Saturday in detention together. A brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse, these five individuals are not able to express themselves freely due to their placement in the high school hierarchy. They each portray the correct characteristics of their stereotypes, whilst internally struggling with their own personal matter which have been completely ignored. “We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.” For example, Andy, the athlete of the group, on the outside he has developed the stereotypical characteristics of a jock, doesn’t respect anyone else and only cares about winning. However, what people don’t understand is that this is an image he has created so that others do not see how being manipulated by his father has resulted in him not being able to think for himself anymore. The persona protects him, from the judgement of others who can make decisions for themselves.  “You see us as you want to see us – in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain… and an athlete… and a basket case… a princess… and a criminal.” In some cases, peoples false personas are created by those around them rather than by themselves, and then once the idea of the person is built up in someone else mind it becomes almost impossible to break out of their new image, which is the problem that this group has been faced with. This same thing happened to Daisy in The Great Gatsby, people around her assessed her social position and her wealth and made preconceived judgements about her and her personality. Daisy, always one to avoid conflict, went along with the role people gave her to fill. She became the perfect, upper-class, trophy wife who was completely shallow with no real emotions, and over time she accepted that this was her life now, and gave in to the stereotype.
Graceling is a novel set in a fantasy world, which is comprised of seven kingdoms where some children are born with special gifts called ‘graces’. The story follows a young lady, Katsa, gifted with the grace of killing, who whilst rescuing a man for her Uncle King Randa encounters another Graceling. This turns out to be Po, a prince of another kingdom, graced with fighting. After a few incidents at in King Randa’s court, Po and Katsa set out together to try and make sense of what is really going on in the kingdoms. Further on in the novel, Po says, “Don’t feel too kindly toward me, Katsa. Neither of us is blameless as a friend.” This served as a warning to Katsa that she shouldn’t put too much trust in Po, for a reason unknown to her. In reality, Po was trying to protect her from the hurt he knew she would feel when she found out the truth about his grace, the truth about who he is. Eventually, though the truth always comes out and the wall that had been so carefully built to protect Po from others judgement and greed fell away. “She had thought him a fighter, just a fighter. … She had trusted him. She had trusted him, and she should not have. He had misrepresented himself, misrepresented his Grace. And that was the same as if he had lied.” As a result of Po hiding the truth and maintaining a false persona, Katsa seriously doubted her original opinions of him. The put unnecessary strain on their relationship, and it could have been avoided if Po didn’t feel the pressure that his true grace would be exploited by those around him if it wasn’t hidden. The reader understands from this, that even though people try to cover what they consider their ‘flaws’, at the end of the day, if you can’t accept yourself for who you are, how do you think anyone else will? This same phrase can be applied to The Breakfast Club. The teenagers are scared to show the other students their true personalities out of fear of being rejected by those also living behind a facade. They teach us to look past the outwards appearance of a person and to really pay attention to the inner workings of their mind. Otherwise, no one will ever understand what is really going on.
The Landlady is a short story which tells the tale of a young businessman, Mr Weaver, who has recently travelled from London to Bath for work. Upon his arrival he is directed towards an inn, however, along the way, he notices a bed and breakfast and after further inspection through the windows decides to stay there instead. At first, everything is going fine, the landlady is very friendly and the house is nice enough until he starts noticing odd things. The first thing to strike his attention is the extremely low cost and the fact that there have only been two other guests in the last three years. Neither of which have ever left again. “Left?” she said, arching her brows. “But my dear boy, he never left. He’s still here. Mr Temple is also here. They’re on the third floor, both of them together.” Then he starts to notice other things that do not quite fit with the Landlady’s “kind and generous soul”, the dog curled up by the fire and the colourful parrot in the cage are both stuffed and the landladies odd knowledge of her previous guest’s bodies. “He was actually twenty-eight. And yet I never would have guessed it if he hadn’t told me, never in my whole life. There wasn’t a blemish on his body.”                                                                                                                                         “A what?” Billy said.                                                                                                                                                                 “His skin was just like a baby’s.”  Unknown to Mr Weaver, everything about the Landlady is an act. She uses her innocent looks and old age to lure in unsuspecting strangers, before killing them and stuffing their bodies. Unfortunatly for Mr Weaver, he too will be joining Mr Temple and Mr Perkins on the third floor. If it hadn’t been for the Landladys illusion, Mr Weaver wouldn’t have been tempted to stay at her bed and breakfast and would have continued on the inn, where he would have been safe from harm.  The reader understands from this that false personas can be used to hide more cynical things about a person, that if brought to light would completely destroy their chance at a normal life. Unlike Po, at the realisation of the Landlady’s true identity we know that she could never be accepted as he was. Po was born with his grace, he did not choose it. The Landlady on the other hand developed her discusting hobby and created her disguise to prevent others from witnessing her real nature and being repulst by it.
In conclustion, as a result of people creating false personas the people around them are never truly able to get to know them. This is evident in the texts, The Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Breakfast Club directed by John Hughes, Graceling written by Kristen Cashore and The Landlady written by Roald Dahl. Daisy, the five teenagers, Po and the Landlady are all see in a way completely different to their true personatlities. We learn from this that if you can not express yourselve freely without a consentant fear of judement that people are never going to be able to accept themselves for who they are.

 

Significant Connection Plan

People create false personas so that others can not see their true selves.

Text 1 – The Great Gatsby

Daisy uses her wealth to disguise her true emotions
Q1: “Her voice is full of money,” he said suddenly. 
That was it. I’d never understood before. It was full of money — that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it. . . . high in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl. . . .  
Q2:She vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life …”

 

Text 2 – Graceling

Po hides his grace of being able to listen to others thoughts of him, so he will be accepted
Q1: “Don’t feel too kindly toward me, Katsa. Neither of us is blameless as a friend.” (12.91)
Q2:She had thought him a fighter, just a fighter. … She had trusted him. She had trusted him, and she should not have. He had misrepresented himself, misrepresented his Grace. And that was the same as if he had lied.”

 

Text 3 – The Breakfast Club

The characters can not express themselves freely due to their placement in the high school hierarchy
Q1: “We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.”
Q2: “You see us as you want to see us—in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…a princess…and a criminal. Does that answer your question?”

 

The Landlady

She has created an illusion of herself to trick people into a sense of comfort before killing them.
Q1: “Left?” she said, arching her brows. “But my dear boy, he never left. He’s still here. Mr Temple is also here. They’re on the third floor, both of them together.”
Q2: “He was actually twenty-eight. And yet I never would have guessed it if he hadn’t told me, never in my whole life. There wasn’t a blemish on his body.”                                                                                                                                         “A what?” Billy said.                                                                                                                                                                 “His skin was just like a baby’s.”

 

Unfamiliar Text

Text 1

‘Family Holiday’ written by S Daly, from the short story ‘Phenomena’. 
a) The rope bridge over the river and the waves in the ocean.
b) (i) Onomatopoeia is used in the line “The waves crashed down…”
b) (ii) The writer uses this verbal feature to develop a negative feeling towards what happens on the holiday.

Homework

– Identify 2 language features that develop the narrator’s feelings about the holiday. Give an example of each.
Short sentences – “I couldn’t move”, Personification – “The waves crashed down…”
– Discuss how your chosen language features, a long with the others in the text, develop an emotional theme for the family holiday.
The author uses short sentences to create a detached feeling with little emotion which reflects how the character feels towards the holiday. The personification of the waves allude to the danger of the ocean and gives it more human like quailities. 

Essay Writing

Relationships

Introduction
The novel, ‘The Great Gatsby’ written by F. Scott Fitzgerald centres around the lives of five main character during a single summer in upper-class 1920’s New York. The characters lives are consumed by materialistic objects and their need to hide their true nature from each other. Fitzgerald explores the idea of illusion through his characters and their relationships with each other. The relationships I will be discussing are, Tom and Daisy Buchanan, Tom and Myrtle Wilson, Daisy and Jay Gatsby. In my analysis of these relationships, I will be explaining the facade people display to others to obtain what they desire most.
One
Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s monotonous relationship once seemed like the best decision they could possibly make but as time moved on, so did their feelings for each other. After Gatsby left for war, Daisy met Tom and together they fell in love, married and moved to East Egg. For a while they were happy, but soon the illusion of there happily ever after fell away in pieces. Daisy tried to keep their image intact but in the process lost all of her energy to feel emotions. “Distinguished secret society to which she and Tom belong”. Tom and Daisy live in a world separate from everyone else, to them the rules do not apply. It is a life they have been born into, they do not fit in anywhere else.
impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire” Both Tom and Daisy are bored in their current relationship, their want for each other has evaporated leaving them both searching for something new. 
– “It’ll show you how I’ve gotten to feel about – things. Well, she was less than an hour old and Tom was God knows where. I woke up out of the ether with an utterly abandoned feeling”
Two
Tom Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson’s relationship with each other was founded solely on Tom’s want for excitement and Myrtle’s desperate need to climb the social classes.
Three
Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan’s poisonous relationship was destined to fail from the start, and as the lies dug deeper it became apparent that they would not make it out unscathed. After spending a single summer together before Gatsby went off to war, Daisy and Jay fell in love. Although their time spent with each other was fleeting, their emotions stayed with them all the way up to when they were reunited again, 5 years later.  In Gatsby’s mind, once they are together again everything can go back to how it was when they first met, what he doesn’t understand that Daisy has moved on. She is married to Tom now and they have a daughter, They weren’t happy … and yet they weren’t unhappy either”. Daisy knows that Tom is having an affair, yet she does nothing to stop it. She is too afraid that by she leaving him to be with Gatsby she might not get all the materialistic objects that come with a person of Tom’s social standing. The colour gold is a symbol of wealth and social class, Daisy and Tom are associated with gold but Gatsby is fake, a fraud, he lied and cheated his way to the top which is why he is related to yellow. Although Gatsby is associated with yellow, “yellow cocktail music…twin yellow dresses”, when he reunites with Daisy for the first time, everything surrounding him is gold. “gold-colored tie…Pale gold odour…pure dull gold. ” This is because at this point in time Gatsby undoubtedly believes that Daisy will leave Tom for him and that he could finally reach the very top of the social classes and become golden. Then as time moves on, Gatsby is stuck in the past and Daisy has slowly moved out of his grasp, leaving Gatsby to forever stay in his yellow life.

 

Conclusion

Essay Planning Grid

Place Message Evidence
West Egg The corrupt            American Dream “the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them.”

“Who is this Gatsby anyhow… Some big bootlegger?… I didn’t hear it. I imagined it. A lot of these newly rich people are just big bootleggers.”

Valley of Ashes The failed American Dream “This is a valley of ashes – a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens…”  

“…finally, with a transcendent effort, of ash-grey men, who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.”

East Egg The false American Dream “Distinguished secret society to which she and Tom belong”

“Their impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire”

“East Egg condescending to West Egg, and carefully on guard against its spectroscopic gayety.” 

 

Character Idea Evidence
Gatsby. You can not ever reinvent yourself. The colossal vitality of his illusion”

“Gatsby looked with vacant eyes”

Daisy. Not everyone is who they appear to be. Strained counterfeit of perfect ease”

“She vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life …”

Nick. You can never fully hide from your true self. “I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.”

“I thought you were rather an honest, straightforward person. I thought it was your secret pride.” – Jordan to Nick

Idea Message Evidence
The American Dream Even by working hard, things don’t always get better “finally, with a transcendent effort, of ash-grey men, who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air”
Illusion Not everyone is who they say they are
Green light You don’t always get what you want in life, even if you completely devote yourself to it
Language Feature Idea Evidence
Imagery The image of Daisy is breaking apart in front of Gatsby’s eyes. “He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass.”
Symbolism – White Daisy is ‘white’ she is blank, boring and a void of emotion. “She vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life”
Event Why it impacted the characters Evidence
Gatsby’s Death Nick was so consumed by his presence and his life, that once Gatsby died he did not know what to do. Most of those reports were a nightmare — grotesque, circumstantial, eager, and untrue.”
The Hotel Room Everything was finally brought to the attentions of all the characters, forcing them to see the truth whether they liked it or not. “… he began to talk excitedly to Daisy, denying everything, defending his … with every word she was drawing further and further into herself,”

“only the dead dream fought on as the afternoon slipped away, trying to touch what was no longer tangible, struggling unhappily, undespairingly, toward that lost voice across the room.”

told it to me because “Jay Gatsby.” had broken up like glass against Tom’s hard malice, and the long secret extravaganza was played out.”

Nick’s first encounter with Gatsby It introduced Gatsby to the story and started Nicks fascination with him. “He stretched out his arms towards the dark water in a curious way … Involuntarily I glanced seaward and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and faraway, that might have been the end of the dock.”

“He smiled understandingly — much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life.”

Language Features

One

“He had passed visibly through two states and was entering upon a third. After his embarrassment and his unreasoning joy, he was consumed with wonder at her presence. He had been full of the idea so long, dreamed it right through to the end, waited with his teeth set, so to speak, at an inconceivable pitch of intensity. Now, in the reaction, he was running down like an over-wound clock.”
– Most people do not react the way Gatsby did, it was over the top and unnecessary.
– Gatsby can not actually believe that Daisy is with him again, he has hoped and dreamed for them to be together for so long. Just from being in the same room as her he is so caught up in her presence he can not think about anything else.
– Gatsby’s dream is to be with Daisy for the rest of their lives, it is all he strives for and is why he completely recreated himself. 
– He has worked so hard and ruthlessly to change himself to be the perfect man for Daisy, nothing about him is real anymore, it is all an illusion built to appeal to her lifestyles standards.                                  
“As I went over to say good-by I saw that the expression of bewilderment had come back into Gatsby’s face, as though a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness. Almost five years! There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams – not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.”
– He is second guessing himself, he is not certain that all he has done was for something important.
– His happiness isn’t real happiness it is all been created in his mind, he doesn’t actually feel happy. 
– He has completely rid of anything that actually is true about himself, everything is reliant on his illusion. It has consumed him, nothing can ever fully satisfy him there will always be something else just out of reach.
– He is already dead.
“It’ll show you how I’ve gotten to feel about – things. Well, she was less than an hour old and Tom was God knows where. I woke up out of the ether with an utterly abandoned feeling and asked the nurse right away if it was a boy or a girl. She told me it was a girl, and so I turned my head away and wept. ‘All right,’ I said, ‘I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.’
– Daisy has already begun to accept that this is how her life will be from now on and that if she ever wants to feel content in her own home she will have to ignore certain aspects of Tom’s life.  
– Tom often leaves without Daisy knowing where he is going, it has become normal for him to disappear even if his child is being born.  
– This is the first sign of Daisy cutting off her emotions, she doesn’t want to feel like that anymore so she decides to not feel anything at all. To save herself the pain.
– In the 1920’s women did not work, it was the man who brought in money for the family. Daisy knows and understands this and wants her daughter to just let it be and enjoy it.

Two

“It was when curiosity about Gatsby was at its highest that the lights in his house failed to go on one Saturday night – and as obscurely as it had begun, his career as Trimalchio was over.” 
Trimalchio was a former slave who became wealthy trough ways that others would find disgraceful. He now holds lavish banquets for his guests, and his character is described as being ostentatious. The general meaning of ‘Trinalchio’ is The Greatest King. The illusion Jay Gatsby was designed to impress others to be ‘The Great Gatsby’, he came from a background that held him captive to a particular way of life. Through illegal businesses, Gatsby managed to climb his way to the top, and he celebrated it by hosting extravagant parties for all walks of life. From this, we can understand the links that Fitzgerald was trying to highlight between Trimalchio and Gatsby.

Theme

The idea of illusion presented in the novel “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald can be reflected into society today. In the story, each main character put up their own type of illusion to deflect anyone seeing their true personality or intentions. Their individual illusions are present throughout the duration of the text, which shows how hard people will work and strive to keep up their outward appearance just to please others. Society was, and still is, a tough thing to please it will always find new ways to ridicule you and stop you from succeeding in life. A direct reflection of this can be seen in teenagers in today’s society, they use their own variations of illusions to disguises who they really are because they are afraid of being judged by others. Magazines and social media are warping their minds into believing that they must be ‘perfect’ and keep up to date with the latest trends. Every day teenagers are being constantly judged for their actions whether it be something as simple as dying their hair or having a different sexual orientation, which is why it’s understandable that they create illusions. It is a system of defence, to avoid criticism from people that do not accept their personal decisions or understand their way of life. Those who refuse to hide who they really are few and far between, society wants to think that it is welcoming to everyone but in reality, it still has a long way to go.

Symbol

Green Light

The green light symbolises Gatsby’s relentless hope for Daisy. “He stretched out his arms towards the dark water in a curious way … Involuntarily I glanced seaward and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and faraway, that might have been the end of the dock.” In the beginning, when Gatsby’s illusion was still intact the light was visible from his house but as Daisy and Gatsby began to see each other again and his illusion started to crack, mist and fog clouded his view of the green light, the hope was getting harder to see, harder to find. The light was being “minute and far away” represents that the even before they met again, the likely hood of their relationship being a success was small. “Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever… Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one.” As the story progressed Gatsby realised that no matter how much he tried, he could not force history to repeat itself, and the hope slowly began to fade away. In Gatsby’s final moments he gave up on the green light and began to see everything without the filter of Daisy, “He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky…” It had been so long since Gatsby had ever lived for something other than a future with Daisy that he is seeing the world for the first time again, and would have come to the conclusion in his last few seconds that there is so much he has missed out on, so much he’ll never see. He wasted his life, the green light was an instigator of false hope within Gatsby that enticed him towards his own demise.  

Water

Water is an important aspect of this novel and is used throughout the whole story. It represents Gatsby and Daisy’s past and the time they spent apart. “Across the courtesy bay, the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water.” The bay symbolises the 5 years that Gatsby and Daisy spent apart and although neither of them will acknowledge this, the water will always be there, between them. East Egg condescending to West Egg”, The water also is a representation of the different classes they are in, Daisy lives in East Egg as she has ‘old money’ but Gatsby lives in West Egg with his ‘new money’. Even though both areas are considered part of the upper-class society, there is a divide between the old money and the new money. “If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay,” once again the water has come between Gatsby and Daisy, the mist is blocking their view of the green light on Daisy’s dock. As the green light represents Gatsby’s hope for being with Daisy, by them not being able to see it means that for a moment the past is catching up to Gatsby smothering his hope. 

Colour

Throughout the novel, different colours have been associated with certain characters, alluding to their true personalities.  Daisy has been related to the colour white on numerous occasions due to her similarity to the elegant but boring and blank colour.  She lives in a “white palace” which, similar to her personality is a void of emotion or anything that holds any real value to a person. All Daisy has is materialistic objects, and is often associated with the colour gold as she is extremely wealthy, “here’s my little gold pencil.” Gatsby, on the other hand, has lied and cheated his way to wealth through illegal business so he can not be associated with gold, instead he is related to yellow, a cheap knockoff version of the real thing. Everything surrounding Gatsby right the way up till his death was yellow, except for a short period of time when he truly believed that all his hope had finally paid off and Daisy was going to be his again did he possess gold objects, “Pale gold odour of kiss-me-at-the-gate.” When Daisy couldn’t admit that she never loved Tom and would be leaving him, Gatsby’s final chance at living a gold life disappeared, symbolising the fact that he never successfully transitioned to the highest social platform possible, so he returned to his fake, yellow level to die “in a moment disappeared among the yellowing trees.”

Setting

One

East Egg is located in Long Island, New York and is across the bay from West Egg. The only distinguishable difference between each peninsula is that East Egg is home to the “old money” upperclassmen and West Egg is for the “new money” upperclassmen. “Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water.” Living in East Egg is a way of the old money families making sure that they are always considered to be the very best, which is another reason why Gatsby was so desperate to be with Daisy, so he could be part of her “secret society”.  
West Egg is also located in Long Island, New York across the bay from East Egg. Both Nick and Gatsby live in the “new money” with all other upperclassmen who have made their own money and are living the “American Dream.” The people there have clawed their way through the social ladder, not caring who got clawed in the process and came out on top of the dog pile. After all their hard work, the people of West Egg just want to relax and party, relishing in their new found freedom. However, for Gatsby, that’s not enough, for he knows the truth. It’s not just water separating East and West Egg, its class.
The Valley of Ashes is located between West Egg, East Egg and New York which forces the characters to drive through “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…” The Valley of Ashes is a direct comparison to West Egg, which can be considered the success of the “American Dream” as the Valley of Ashes showcases the truth of society. People work all day, every single day of the year and never do they get rewarded for it. “…ash-grey men, who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.” For them, life is already over they will never be able to climb there way from the bottom of the dog pile others call social classes to the top.
New York is an escape for the characters, it is a place for secret affairs and illegal businesses. Each character uses New York for a different reason, for Tom, New York is a place for him to spend time with Myrtle in their apartment. The apartment gives off the illusion that Tom and Myrtle could be happy, that what they are doing isn’t wrong. Gatsby uses New York as a cover for his illegal businesses that he exploited to rise through the social classes. For Nick, New York is a place where he doesn’t have to keep secrets, in New York Nick can be free.

Two

“Across the courtesy bay, the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water.” East Egg gives off the facade of being the perfect place to live with its enormous mansions oozing class and sophistication but behind the manicured hedges and trimmed lawns, white palaces stand bland and lifeless. East Egg is an illusion because it is perceived to be an extravagant place where the wealthy live luxurious lives, but behind their money, there are people who are unhappy and empty. They have nothing to really live for, they have boring lives that hold no meaning.
The Valley of Ashes helps the reader understand illusion in the novel, as it provides the honest situation of most people’s lives in New York. It shows how the “American Dream” failed the real people,  “The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” This is not true, the only ones who received opportunities are those that lied and tricked their way through the social classes into West Egg, those who work hard received nothing for their sacrifices.

 

Character

One

Jay Gatsby is the main character in this novel. He is a young businessman living in West Egg, Long Island. Gatsby resides in an enormous mansion in which extravagant parties are hosted every night, attracting every sort of person possible. Very few people have ever actually met Gatsby, some even question his existence, this leads to the spreading numerous rumours.“Somebody told me they thought he killed a man once.” … “I don’t think it’s so much that,” argued Lucille sceptically; “it’s more that he was a German spy during the war.” In the beginning of the novel, we perceive Gatsby to be this well put together, sophisticated gentlemen, however, as the novel progresses the real Gatsby starts to come through. One by one his walls drops allowing the reader to see that in reality, Gatsby is just a young, juvenile boy chasing after the dream of being with Daisy. “He stretched out his arms towards the dark water in a curious way … Involuntarily I glanced seaward and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and faraway, that might have been the end of the dock.”  Even up till Gatsby final moments he kept reaching out for hope, for the green light, that Daisy would come running back to him and they could live happily ever after.  
In the beginning of the novel, Daisy Buchanan is painted as a perfect upper-class lady, who lives in East Egg with her husband, Tom and young daughter, Pammy. Daisy was born into the upper-class life, a life that Gatsby has always strived to be included in. Their infatuation with each other started 5 years ago at a party, whilst Gatsby was in the army. During Gatsby’s time away, Daisy met and married Tom Buchanan. Together they portrayed the image of a happy family but inside the grand walls of their mansion boredom and misery wafted down the empty, lifeless halls. “Their impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire”, Daisy and Tom are lying to one another and to themselves, pretending to care and that they truly love each other. When really Tom disappears into the city to be with his mistress, Myrtle, whom Daisy refuses to acknowledge the existence of. Further into the novel, Daisy is reunited with Gatsby through the help of Nick. This causes a rush of emotions, overwhelming her, Suddenly, with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily.’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 does not know how she is supposed to react to her reemerging feelings, so instead of facing her emotions, she hides beneath the materialistic objects. That is all Daisy can do, she would rather live a boring, emotionless life than risk her place in the social circles, so when she is asked to choose between Tom and Gatsby, she chooses Tom because of his power to give her any materialistic object she desires. Once again hiding what she truly wants, “Her frightened eyes told that whatever intentions, whatever courage, she had had, were definitely gone.” In the end, Daisy is just a pathetic shell of a person who refuses to fight for what she really want.
Nick Carraway is the narrator of the novel, “The Great Gatsby”. He is an aspiring businessman who recently moved into a small cottage located in West Egg, New York. Nick lives next door to Gatsby and is Daisy’s cousin which initially is the reason why they begin to communicate again. Although Nick is part of the storyline he often describes scenes like he isn’t there at all, with details that aren’t revealed until later on. In the line, “I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.” We understand that Nick believes himself to be a non-judgemental person who only holds opinions on people that he has interacted. From this, we also release that Nick thinks that the people surrounding him lie and deceive each other, as the lifestyles that they live do not allow for flaws. As the story progresses Nick becomes a confidant of Gatsby’s, and he begins to undoubtedly believe everything Gatsby says. Tom says, “He threw dust into your eyes just like he did in Daisy’s.” This line is relating to the fact that Daisy was blind to the truth of Gatsby identity, that he was all an illusion, nothing about him was real. Gatsby did the same thing to Nick, using his charm to hide the reality of his true nature, and even when Gatsby died Nick still held the image that he portrayed above everyone else. In the end, the whole ordeal with Gatsby, Daisy, Tom and Jordan is what caused Nick to leave New York and return to home because the truth is he didn’t belong there, he wasn’t one of them.  

Two

Jay Gatsby lives a completely false life, his whole persona is an illusion. Gatsby recreated himself into the person he always wanted to be, but never could because of his place in the social classes. “I am the son of some wealthy people in the Middle West — all dead now. I was brought up in America but educated at Oxford, because all my ancestors have been educated there for many years. It is a family tradition.” Jay Gatsby kept his story short and vague with enough slivers of truth so that he would never be caught out. Gatsby did go to Oxford, but only for a few short months and certainly did not attend school whilst there, also neither of his parents are dead as revealed at the end of the novel when his father arrives for the funeral. In the end, everything Gatsby did up till his final moments was for nothing, the wealth, the fame, the social class died along with him, leaving him to die as James Gatz should have alone and worthless. he lay in his house and didn’t move or breathe or speak”, James Gatz never was truly alive it was all his illusion, Jay Gatsby. This tragic ending shows the reader that by lying to yourself and those around you, you will end up alone and unloved, like James. Daisy wasn’t in love with him, the real him, she was in love with his illusion. 
Nick Carraway claims to be a very moral and trustworthy character who holds no judgements of others. “I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known” This line could not possibly be any more false, however, this is Nick’s illusion talking. The part of him that truly believes what he is doing isn’t wrong and that he has not changed. In reality, Nick’s morals left him the moment he didn’t tell Daisy about Tom’s affair. It is true though that Nick is a trustworthy character, as he kept all the secrets that he was told even if he probably shouldn’t have. As the reader, we think that although Nick tries to be the same moral person he was before moving to New York, the city and its people corrupted him, transforming him to be the same as the rest of the characters, harsh and judgmental. 
Daisy Buchanan life is an illusion, the outside appears perfect, flawless but under close inspection, cracks begin forming. We can relate Daisy to the pure, innocent white flowers she is named after. However, as the story continues we come to realise what “a grotesque thing a rose is.” Daisy’s illusion crumbles, transforming her into an ugly rose, that’s thorns will prick anyone who gets too close, like Gatsby. All Daisy is really is a boring, shallow person who does not care for much, just materialistic objects, there is no substance to her life. Unlike originally thought Daisy is not as innocent as she seems. Her husband, Tom, is having an affair, but she knows she will never leave him for the man she is supposedly in love with because she refuses to risk her reputation. Daisy is just white; blank and boring. As the reader from this, we learn that the outwards appearance of people’s lives is not an accurate representation of the what is really going on. 

Three

Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan’s poisonous relationship was destined to fail from the start, and as the lies delved deeper it became apparent that they would not make it out unscathed. In the beginning, before Gatsby even met Daisy, he had already developed his new persona “Jay Gatsby”, he was no longer James Gatz and meeting Daisy just solidified his desire to become part of her upper-class world. The Jay Gatsby that Daisy fell in love with was all an illusion, therefore their whole relationship was all one big, elaborate illusion that Daisy was unable to escape even after she married another man and had a child. After spending a single summer together Gatsby began to obsess over Daisy and the life she lived, doing everything in his power to be close to her, “If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay.”  However, Daisy did not necessarily want this but she kept the facade that she was in love with Gatsby because she in a sense wanted her own revenge on Tom for him having an affair with Myrtle. 
Tom Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson’s relationship with each other was founded solely on Tom’s want for excitement and Myrtle’s desperate need to climb the social classes. Both Tom and Myrtle put on an act that they could have a happy relationship and that everything would work out perfectly for them. Tom knew what he was doing, by creating an illusion that he would leave his wife for this lower class women he could play games, toy with her emotions. All Tom wanted was to make his life interesting again, by adding a mistress it created a sense of risk and danger for him. However, Myrtle too formed a new image for herself, she over exaggerated her feelings to entice Tom in. Everything she did was to get herself out of the Valley of Ashes and into a respected lifestyle. Their whole relationship was an attempt at escape for both of them. Unfortunately, Myrtle was too desperate to flee her current lifestyle and in her final steps towards a future that was slowly slipping away through her fingers, she was killed, ironically, by Daisy.
Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s monotonous relationship once seemed like the best decision they could possibly make but as time moved on, so did their feelings for each other. After Gatsby left for war, Daisy met Tom and together they fell in love, married and moved to East Egg. For a while they were happy, but soon the illusion of there happily ever after fell away in pieces. Daisy tried to keep their image intact and in the process lost all of her emotions. She shielded herself from all the pain that the truth of Tom’s ‘secret’ affair brought her. “Distinguished secret society to which she and Tom belong.” Everything is a secret, Tom and Myrtle, Daisy and Gatsby, but neither relationships could every work as both Gatsby and Myrtle could never be part of their “society.” Although Daisy isn’t innocent in the demise of Tom and her’s relationship, Tom is a hypocrite, he refuses to let Daisy go. When Tom, Daisy and Gatsby are in the hotel arguing, Daisy can’t tell Gatsby that she never loved Tom because she would be lying. This leads the reader to question if Tom ever really loved Daisy because he could so easily cheat on her, but as soon as Daisy considers leaving him, he forces her to remember that she once loved him. Which also teaches the reader that Tom is just as scared of being with someone not in the same social circles as Daisy is. “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made . . .” In the end, Tom and Daisy moved on with their lives like nothing had happened, their illusion was repaired and the two people who had managed to break through its wall were both dead, so together they just moved on.