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Discuss the view that The Great Gatsby and 1984 concern the attempt of an impossible idealism to realise itself in a grossly materialistic world.

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Introduction

Discuss the view that The Great Gatsby and 1984 concern the attempt of an impossible idealism to realise itself in a grossly materialistic world. What was it that finally brought Gatsby down? The title to this novel seems odd in relation to the way he finally passed: the "great" Gatsby killed over one woman's death, for which he accepted all blame even though he was innocent. His final demise could be credited to a dream that had soured, though he was so infatuated with achieving a long-desired aspiration that he would do anything to secure it. His dream of course was Daisy. Similarly the character Winston smith, the main protagonist in George Orwell's '1984' ultimately sacrifices himself for a similar cause, an unattainable longing for freedom and the love of a woman, both novels share a common theme that is a society where social class takes all precedence. ...read more.

Middle

The first settlers were mainly religious refugees who had been driven to the "New World" by persecution. To these settlers America represented to them a new hope, a new life of freedom holding some promise of spiritual and material happiness. Even to those that were not especially religious, America still represented a great opportunity: a land of possibilities. In these early days, material propriety and progress kept pace with the religious and spiritual goals of the time as the founders; the Puritans and the Quakers both approved of the advancement of industry. This however is quite paradoxical to the situation in Oceania in 1984, The majority of the populace is content with their situation of slavery and poverty, brainwashed into ignorance. Only a few individuals share the desire for liberation, known as "the brotherhood". The character Winston smith is a parallel with Jay Gatsby in that he is striving for the un-attainable. ...read more.

Conclusion

Corruption is common on all levels and the party elite wallow in luxuries. For instance, Joseph Stalin's standard of living was remarkably extravagant and probably exceded most Western presidents' and kings'. Milan Simecka, a dissident in communist Czechoslovakia, suggests in Our Comrade Winston Smith that this is the fundamental principle of totalitarian systems: the hunger for the fruits of power. Comfort, luxuries and other expressions of materialism have always been the engine in societies throughout history and why should totalitarian societies be different? Totalitarian societies are more materialistic than other societies, even extreme consumption societies like USA. Creative arts and religion are restricted or even surpressed; utilitarianism and pragmatism leaven all through the totalitarian society. There are no such things as art or beauty as we know it, only insipid Party buildings and propaganda statues. Physical strength is idolised, athletics and body culture is encouraged. It is not a coincidence the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China have been so successful in various sports. ...read more.

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Response to the question

This essay engages at an average level with this task. There isn't much evidence of a coherent argument being formed here. In my opinion, this question is quite cryptic and this is often for a good reason. The examiners want ...

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Response to the question

This essay engages at an average level with this task. There isn't much evidence of a coherent argument being formed here. In my opinion, this question is quite cryptic and this is often for a good reason. The examiners want you to engage with the key words of the question, such as "impossible idealism" and "grossly materialistic world". By looking at connotations and meanings, you are able to focus your argument and form convincing points. This essay explores idealism and materialistic word, looking at how it is presented by each writer, but there is no overarching argument. Especially at A-Level, you will gain little credit if your answer is not tightly focused on the question.

Level of analysis

The analysis here is basic. At A-Level, there is a great focus on analysis of language, form and structure, where evaluating how these shape meanings will gain you top marks. There is very little discussion of Fitzgerald or Orwell using techniques to display the idealism. Sentences such as "Fitzgerald uses Nick's distant narrative position" or "Orwell constructs the Party to be oppressive to show" will ensure that you focus on techniques. This essay includes comments such as "Jay Gatsby fights against the social hierarchy" which focus more on the plot and what goes on, rather than how the writers shape the story. Yes, this essay includes some insightful comments, drawing upon critics and quotations. But, these interpretations will gain little credit unless the analysis is there as a foundation. This essay gets sucked into giving too much background information. Information "In these early days, material propriety and progress kept pace with the religious and spiritual goals of the time as the founders; the Puritans and the Quakers both approved of the advancement of industry." is completely irrelevant, unless you comment upon how this affects the context of reception or production. By this, I mean talking about how contemporary audiences would react differently, or how a genre affects how the reader perceives the text. Bulky paragraphs of historical information simply break up any argument you are building.

Quality of writing

The quality of argument here is poor. As mentioned above, there is no overarching argument. This is clear by the lack of introduction, which would be a good opportunity to engage with the question and pose a convincing viewpoint. Paragraphs haven't got concise signposts summarising the points about to be made, and it is very difficult to identify why some points are relevant to the question whatsoever. Examiners will find it much easier to follow an argument if paragraphs are logically picked and are always focused on the question. Unfortunately, this essay just seems like a jumble of points and shows little ability to craft a strong essay.


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