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What do you think of the view that obsession with money and the new consumer culture of the 1920s dominates human thinking and behaviour in The Great Gatsby?

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Introduction

What do you think of the view that obsession with money and the new consumer culture of the 1920s dominates human thinking and behaviour in The Great Gatsby? (21 marks) It can be seen that money and consumer culture dominates behaviour and thinking in The Great Gatsby. I think that this is the case because of Daisy's strong link to money, Dr T.J. Eckleburg and Gatsby's need to better himself. Daisy is an example of the obsession with money and consumerism when she is shown round Gatsby's house, "I've never seen so many beautiful shirts". She notices the expensive things about his house, suggesting that she is interested in having an affair because of his money and the status it gives him. ...read more.

Middle

Thus making Daisy representative of money in the 1920s. Dr Eckleburg's eyes represent the negative effect Consumerism had on 1920's society. "His eyes, dimmed a little by many pointless days under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground." It has been argued that Dr Eckleburg represents God because of his omniscient eyes, however because these eyes are fading it could be argued that Eckleburg actually represents fading morality, how the American Dream is becoming more and more unattainable and ultimately how Consumerism has become 1920's society's God, leading them down the wrong path of short-lived materialistic happiness. Gatsby wants to better himself, "Read one improving book or magazine per week". Gatsby isn't of the same social status as Daisy, suggesting that he doesn't feel worthy enough to win her back and so must change himself to become what society wants. ...read more.

Conclusion

Nick thinks the Buchanan's have a lack of concern for him and their love for Gossip, "Their interest rather touched me and made them less remotely rich - nevertheless, I was confused and a little disgusted as I drove away", Nick could have been interpreting their actions in the wrong way. He .Nick could just be seeing the worst in people because of his personal connections to them and so is giving an unjust narration of them. However, Daisy doesn't even send flowers to Gatsby's funeral, suggesting that she really was only using Gatsby for his money and didn't really love him, making her a victim of consumerism. I think that human behaviour is dominated by money and consumerism in The Great Gatsby because of characters like Daisy and Gatsby who have shaped their lives around it. ...read more.

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Response to the question

The Response to the Question here is very good. The candidate retains an excellent focus on the question, dedicating an introductory paragraph to helm the essay and outline the purpose of it, and three further paragraphs dedicated to each of ...

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Response to the question

The Response to the Question here is very good. The candidate retains an excellent focus on the question, dedicating an introductory paragraph to helm the essay and outline the purpose of it, and three further paragraphs dedicated to each of the character/motifs they intend to explore. Each paragraph is focused explicitly on the question's steer (particularly the money and consumerism) though I would argue a little more explicitness with regard to it's control over thinking and behaviour could be implemented. This is where, perhaps, a knowledge of human thinking before the Jazz Age may come into play - how does the thinking of the Jazz Age differ to the more idyllic/trusting/small-time American life of the decade previously? To what extent can this change be associated with the grossness of national income? Contextual knowledge is imperative for all A Level essays.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis here is fair. There is plenty of analysis to feast on but infrequently it delves to any great depth that we are not already made aware of in the novel. For example, Dr. T. J. Eckleberg's analysis features a great detail, but more could be added, such as his need for spectacles to correct the inaccuracy of his natural vision - how does this link with where he is situated? What do you think it means when Fitzgerald paints a a doctor - arguably part of high class, respected society - require glasses simply to see clearly? What do you suppose may have cause his poor vision? The candidate's lesser depth is by no means a bad thing, but it limits the essay's ability to achieve an A grade or a high B grade because the mark scheme requires "insightful, illuminating analytical points" - points that are not hugely obvious to the reader or the examiner. Remember - the examiner reads thousands of these essay and so if you make original points that are backed up with quotes, then you're already standing out to the examiner by making them re-think their own evaluation of the novel and it's motifs, like the purpose of the symbol of Dr. T. J. Eckleberg. Whilst there are few of these original here, this is still a very succinct essay that makes it's points clearly and in conjunction with what the question asks.

Each paragraph is nicely-supported by a quote from the novel, save the third one on Gatsby and how his quest for status via immeasurable richness attracts Daisy. For this paragraph it may have been wise to use "No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store in his ghostly heart". This quote, from the novel, matches exactly what the candidate is trying to say and would improve this paragraph by providing empirical support to an already very valid point. At A Level, it is expected to be second nature to find quotes to support all points.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication here is fine. There are a few inconsistencies that don't seem entirely accidental, such a capitalising "Gossip" (I realise there is possibly an intention here, so as to make it seem more important by capitalising the "G", however, this is not orthodox of analytical writing). Most of the lexical structures are simplistic and the grammar basic, but this is not something for which the candidate can be penalised. To achieve higher marks though, I would encourage a slightly higher level of vocabulary to express your points, so to impress the examiner more and achieve higher grades.


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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 22/06/2012

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