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Free Great Gatsby Essays: East and West

The Division between East and West in The Great Gatsby

The division between East and West is a significant theme in The Great Gatsby. The author has projected the historical East/West division of the States on the division of class and society in the 20th century.

The Mid-West, which represents the new territory of hope and the old pioneer spirit, corresponds to West Egg in New York. For Fitzgerald, there was a certain old-fashioned stability resting on the old, unchanging values and close relationships. Some of these values are: honesty, human respect, divinity, idealism, romanticism, faith, ambition, community, and other spiritual values which are all personified in Gatsby.

The novel mirrors the East-West divide of the whole country in the division between West Egg and East Egg. Nick and Gatsby live on West Egg, which means that they have retained their closeness to western values. The Buchanans on the other hand have become Easterners, they represent the corruption of the East.

The main characters, Daisy, Nick, Gatsby, and Tom are all from the Mid-west. While Tom and Daisy Buchanan live an East Egg, being attracted by its glamour, excitement and promise of success, Nick enjoys living on West Egg. He mentions the friendship between Mid-Westerners, who are brought together by their extremely long and cold winters (in contrast to the New York summers’ heat).

Nick’s neighbor Gatsby is a wealthy person, who spends a lot of money giving parties for strangers only to meet Daisy, the dream of his life. He is seen as representing “new money” because he has no good education and no family background over several generations, he is self-made, invented by himself. For this reason, he is not accepted as being dignified enough to enter the exclusive “old money” upper class.

Tom and Daisy are “old money”, rich and from old established families living on East Egg, which the millionaires inhabit. The East symbolizes fashionable life, sophistication, the “modern society” and the land where anything can happen. This is the world of brutality, corruption, carelessness, materialism and failure of emotion. By moving to the East, the Buchanans lose contact with the deeper values. They are superficial, aimless, irresponsible, empty and lonely. They have no desires, their talks are meaningless and their spiritual values are forgotten or dumped.

Another symbol of the East is the Centre of New York.

Free Great Gatsby Essays: Genre

The Genre of The Great Gatsby

If you want to find out, into which literary corner F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, the “Great Gatsby”, belongs, you’ve got to take a look at two main genres of novel-writing, the so-called “novel of manners” on the one hand and the romance on the other.

The novel of manners gives, using most of the time a rather satirical tone, a sharp portrayal of the actual life as it really is and also of the social behaviour and attitudes that are closely related with it. This type of novel concentrates on people of a certain class, time and place are clearly defined. The individual attitudes of those people, their inner desires, get into conflict with the more conventional values, which are defined by the society they live in. The result is, that the protagonist has the problem of combining himself and his desires with the rules (the manners) of society, that he himself as a part of this society helped to establish, involuntarily. Examples for this special kind of novel are creations of authors like Henry Fielding and Jane Austen.

On the other hand there is the romance, not aiming at a detailed description of life, but wanting to show it as it is imaginatively seen. The romance concentrates on the inner aspects of human nature, it is not concerned with ordinary events. It is difficult to decide to which literary type the “Great Gatsby” belongs. It is possible to read it as a novel of manners for it presents life and atmosphere of the Roaring Twenties in America, the Jazz Age, marked by prohibition, the organised crime, the new woman as well as the wealthy upper-class and their carelessness in most affairs. Fitzgerald is also using a satirical and comic tone most of the time.

But the book could as well be read as a romance. This seems to be even more appropriate for the book is concerned with the portrayal of a man’s idealism in all its glory but as well in all its unreality and unworldliness. Gatsby is presented as a mysterious figure, fitting well within the fantasy and magic of his naive dream. He is Prince Charming, the gallant knight, trying to get his Princess in white, it’s a perfect example for a sad and tragic fairy-tale.

While writing the “Great Gatsby”, Fitzgerald got influenced by several other books, such as “The Decline of the West” by Oswald Spengler, published 1918-1922, which is portraying the Western civilisation as being in a state of decay.

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