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Great Gatsby. Comment on the setting and the depiction of the characters in Chapter 2

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Introduction

Comment on the setting and the depiction of the characters in Chapter 2 extract. In the second chapter of ?The Great Gatsby?, Fitzgerald introduced a new setting, the ?valley of ashes? to the novel. Unlike other settings of the book which is often linked to wealth and prosperity, the ?valley of ashes? is a depiction of poverty and desolation. This can be seen by the Fitzgerald?s description of the place itself as ?a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens?. The setting itself also reflects on the heavy pollution which is evidently a consequence of capitalism, the so-called American way of living. This further delves into the era of the book whereby the industrial revolution played a huge role in the capitalist economies. The use of phrases such as ?powdery air?, ?ash-grey men? and ?impenetrable cloud? portrays the high degree of pollution within the setting itself. The setting is also the home to the only poor characters in the novel. ...read more.

Middle

As result, it reflects on the fading connection men had with God before and how the role of religion within the society of the 1920s was slowly rotting away. The second chapter also introduced two new characters, Myrtle Wilson and George Wilson. The depiction of the characters within the passage was based on Nick?s observations and perspectives. His lack of judgment in his observation gave the readers the confidence and trust to believe Nick?s retrospective view of the characters. This gave the narration a more omniscient effect to it. However, in his depiction of characters there was a hint of unreliability to it. Nick says ?I think?? shows uncertainty in his observations, which projects his narration as slightly imperfect. George Wilson was depicted by Nick Carraway as ?a blond, spiritless man, anaemic and faintly handsome?. He worked as an automobile mechanic working in a garage in the ?valley of ashes?. As a character, he represents desolation and poverty unlike Tom Buchanan who exudes wealth and power. ...read more.

Conclusion

Nick mentioned that ‘he’d tanked up a good deal at luncheon and his determination to have [Nick’s] company bordered on violence’. This illustrates Tom as a person who would resort to violence to achieve what he wants. Tom was also clearly revealed to be unashamed about his infidelity through his nonchalant actions and speech to George Wilson calling him ‘old man’ and ‘slapping him jovially on the shoulder’. He ‘intently’ states ‘I want to see you... Get on the next train’ shows the blatancy of the affair. His actions and speech amplifies his arrogant attitude. This practically symbolizes the so-called immorality and moral decadence hidden beneath the façade of the aristocrats in the society. In conclusion, the passage above introduces the setting and indirectly portrays the moral decay within the social hierarchy. The moral decay is further exemplified by Tom Buchanan’s portrayal in a negative light. The setting also shows the social gap between the affluent and the desolate. The portrayal of the relations between Tom Buchanan and George Wilson reinforces the idea of the less wealthy being controlled by the affluent. ...read more.

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