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The Great Gatsby - In your opinion how effective is Fitzgerald in evoking the 'ironies and disorders' and the 'wonderful glow' of the Twenties?

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Deniz Besim 13 SNC 'The Great Gatsby offers the most profound and critical summing up we have of the ironies and disorders behind the wonderful glow of the Twenties' (Malcolm Bradbury). In your opinion how effective is Fitzgerald in evoking the 'ironies and disorders' and the 'wonderful glow' of the Twenties? Fitzgerald establishes from the first chapter that having returned from 'the East,' Nick Carraway wants 'the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever' (pg 8). This is ironic for it is essentially this 'uniform[ity]' and 'moral attention' that the characters of the novel and which the society they represent lack. Fitzgerald presents how it is primarily these deficiencies, which create the ironies and disorders behind the beautiful yet superficial glow of America in the Twenties which he depicts both through his characters and through what they narrate to us. In fact by focusing on characters that belong to the high class dominating society of America in the Twenties, Fitzgerald targets the heart of both what represents Americas 'wonderful glow' and the dysfunctions operating behind it, which Fitzgerald effectively sums up through Nick's accounts. It is significant in fact that Nick's accounts are dedicated to Gatsby who Lionel Trilling has concluded 'comes inevitably to stand for America itself' for not only is it through him and his parties that Americas 'Great[ness]' and extravagance is depicted, but it is Gatsby who embodies certain concerns which Fitzgerald identifies within his society. Such concerns involve sustaining a vision that might redeem the world from the cruelty and sufferings that are well presented through Fitzgerald's novel. And it is the glowing veil of Gatsby's society which hides the disorders and allows him to sustain that vision. ...read more.


And despite the general cynical attitude of the characters in the novel, they fail to see their own morality as the cause of the many problems in their world. In fact, not only do they prefer to forget and 'get away' (pg 29) from their own grotesque effects, but they refuse to actually come to terms with or realise certain problems or concerns. What the characters of the novel do see however involve issues which personally involve them. Nick himself has limited insight to what unfolds around him and this may have something to so with his view that 'life is so much more successfully looked at from a single window after all' (pg 10). We ourselves are aware that his accounts not only are selected, but they are limited to what only he knows, sees or thinks. For instance his accounts are incredibly biased in Gatsby's favour whilst seeing Daisy as a conspirator with Tom, one that 'smashe[s] up things and creatures' and then retreats carelessly back into her world (pg 170). Yet this may not be the case. Daisy's carelessness and oblivion may for example be to an extent a fa�ade - to keep herself presented as the 'beautiful little fool' which she feels society values most in a woman. It seems that deep down she herself has grievances which society has disabled her from expressing: 'I'm p-paralysed...' (pg 14) are her first uttered words and then she echoes these words with Jordan later on in the novel when they together declare that they 'can't move' and highlight their social entrapment. Behind Daisy's own glowing veil are hidden grievances which are for instance indicated not only by the fact that she had 'cried and cried' (pg 74) ...read more.


Overall it seems that throughout The Great Gatsby, all that is shown to represent America's 'wonderful glow' is undermined. And though through the novel Nick and the other characters' tone may be romantic or admiring, it is also pessimistic and critical. Fitzgerald suggests that America isn't in fact a democracy as promoted, but a Plutocracy. And the nation is shown to be controlled by a class who can't even control their own lives which as R. W. Stallman agrees, 'is infested with violence and disruption.' More importantly the natures of the characters presented in this class are debased; their morality is centred on hypocrisy, greed and ignorance and it is with such attitudes that they control their nation. Yet the characters aren't only instigators, but victims of their society's disorders and Leland J Person describes how there is an 'alienation of men and women before the materialistic values of modern society' which attributes to the characters' lonely world. Fitzgerald, through using these characters who belong to the society top of America's social and economic hierarchy with which he is so familiar, is effective not only in presenting the attractive glow of America, but in presenting the prime root behind some of the major concerns and problems of his nation. Still there are limitations in what Fitzgerald has managed to present through his novel for he has presented only a world to which he himself is familiar and for instance has failed to offer more detailed accounts on the 'wonderful glow' and 'ironies and disorders' behind the glamorous world of showbiz. Consequently his accounts are overall restricted to 'summing up' the Twenties through the eyes of one particular class rather than offering a more general account on the glow and disorders of the Twenties. Body of essay consists of 2917 words ...read more.

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Response to the question

Response to Question
This question needs candidates to focus on areas of the text that could come under the 'ironies and disorders' and 'wonderful glow' of the period in which the novel is set, and in doing so, contrast the ...

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Response to the question

Response to Question
This question needs candidates to focus on areas of the text that could come under the 'ironies and disorders' and 'wonderful glow' of the period in which the novel is set, and in doing so, contrast the ways in which Fitzgerald portrays the wealthy characters of the novel as being careless, hedonistic and at the same time incredibly glamorous. The candidate is very successful in this, making reference to the text and linking it to the words in the question, and also to other themes in the novel, such as the American Dream. Repeating the words in the question is a good habit to get into, because it helps you to stay on track, and shows the examiner you're aware of what you need to be discussing.

Level of analysis

Level of Analysis
The candidate's use of quotes in this essay is very good. The candidate demonstrates appropriate analysis of quotations, because they do not simply place quotes into their essay, but they are, from time to time, examined in detail (the paragraph on the "death car" is a good example). This is a key skill in order to reach the top grades, and candidates should be aware that examiners need to see evidence of deeper analysis of the text, but it isn't needed at every opportunity, and this essay shows this well.

The inclusion of comments and criticisms of the text in the essay (examples are in the second paragraph and conclusion) shows research of critical perspectives on the novel has taken place, suggesting this is a strong and committed candidate. The second paragraph is a particularly good example of this, because Trilling's comment is quoted and then its relevance to the book is explained and clear links are made. However, at GCSE (and most, if not all of an A Level course, depending on exam board) this is not necessary and is not a requirement for gaining top grades. It is impressive and if it is reasonable to include it, then candidates should consider this, but if they choose not to do this then it will not affect their performance.

Quality of writing

Quality of Writing
The quality of written communication is excellent. There are a few errors, but they generally extend only to missing apostrophes. Personally, I see the inclusion of page numbers after each quotation to be unnecessary, and I feel that they clutter up the essay. On two occasions (7th and 8th paragraphs) the candidate also places a quote on its own line, which is unnecessary and seems odd, particularly as this is only done with two quotes. The candidate also uses inverted commas instead of speech marks to quote the text. While this is a very minor mistake, it can create confusion when candidates want to write something in inverted commas that is not quoted from the text. However, I did this throughout my GCSEs and even into AS Level and was never corrected by teachers, so it really is nothing more than a stylistic issue, and should not be a cause for much concern.

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