the four setting in the great Gatsby are:

  • West egg- Gatsby’s house and Nick’s house
  • Easy egg- Daisy’s house
  • valley of ashes- Wilson’s garage, Michaelis restaurant, and the sign with the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg
  • New York city- the offices where people work, the apartment Tom rented for Myrtle Wilson, and the plaza hotel.

in the Great Gatsby the four main settings we are introduced to already show the false reality of the supposed American Dream as the towns/cities are very clearly designed for specific classes of people.

people who live in East Egg are those born in to wealth, whose families have always had money and being rich is all they know. They are considered more snobby, greedy and mean than those of West Egg. The people of East Egg have usually never had to work for their money and have always had it so they are innocent and clueless with very basic lives. The Buchanans are the only family we know of who live in East Egg, where Tom was born into a very wealthy family and Daisy who also came from a wealthy family married Tom for his large quantities of money. They are a typical East Egg family where their lives revolve around their money and status and no not associate themselves with any other people who aren’t upper class like them.

West Egg on the other hand is considered less fashionable and people who are new to wealth live there. Most of the people in West Egg have morals to live off and their lives don’t all revolve around money as they experience the real world and are genuinely more down to earth and friendly. Nick had recently moved to West Egg so he could go to work in New York City. He is a genuine, polite guy who holds his own dignity and does not base his life around how much money he has or makes. Gatsby on the other hand fits into the new to wealth part as his way to the upper class was a shady path and the residents of west egg and east egg did not really accept him as ‘one of them’ as he was not born into upper class and no-one knows how he made it to upper class. His money is new and he doesn’t have the social status to be accepted into East egg.

The Valley of Ashes on the other hand is where all of the poor people live, those who are the victims of the rich. The Valley of Ashes doesn’t really have anything going for it, as it is described as a wasteland with nothing going on and is literally characterised as dust. People who live in the Valley of Ashes have the dream of working hard enough to eventually move out and to move to a new place with prosperity and success as the American Dream states but in reality they are stuck there their whole lives. It is a depressing industrial area where the locals work constantly in hope of a better life as the rich just feed and live off the work they do. Myrtle and George Wilson are a classic example of poor people looking to work hard to get out of the Valley of Ashes but their not really getting anywhere with their dream of success.

New York is a symbol of what America has become in the 1920’s and it is the bustling city which is shown as a city where anything can happen there and anyone can be who they want to be. It is the chaotic city where money is made and bootleggers make their riches. By the characters it is also seemed to be thought as some sort of temporary escape momentarily where the main characters can live alternate lives once in a while or escape the reality they live in. In truth I believe that New York city is a place where they escape to temporarily experience what they would consider some sort of American dream replica where it seems like the city of opportunity and endless possibilities.

All of these four settings each display a false reality about the American dream. The residents of East Egg have never had to work for their lifestyle whereas the residents living in the Valley of Ashes have worked every day in their life for very little reward. Those in West egg have either made their way to riches by illegal actions such as bootlegging or as they call it ‘new money’ so aren’t born into the riches as far as those from East Egg can see.




1. Describe three key characters and explain how they change throughout the novel

  • Jay Gatsby- 

What is your impression of him at the beginning of the novel? 

What evidence can you give to support your impression? 

What is your impression of him at the end of the novel? 

What evidence can you give to support your impression? 

  • Daisy Buchanan

What is your impression of her at the beginning of the novel? 

What evidence can you give to support your impression? 

What is your impression of her at the end of the novel? 

What evidence can you give to support your impression? 

  • Nick Carraway

What is your impression of him at the beginning of the novel?  When we are first introduced to Nick he states that he is someone who does not judge others of who they are or what they have done and reserves all judgement. He seems to have had practise at it in college and seems as though he is very true to his morals and takes a lot of thought into what his Dad had told him as reserving judgement was something he said to live by.

What evidence can you give to support your impression?  “I’m inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me, and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores”. – at the start of the novel Nick said this and made out that it was very important to him.

What is your impression of him at the end of the novel?  by the end of the novel 

What evidence can you give to support your impression? 

2. Identify how each of the characters you have explored above presented the idea of illusion in the text. Describe how they concealed their true self from other characters in the novel. Explain what helped you uncover their illusion in the text.


3. Describe three important relationships in the text. Explain how these relationships were presented as being “false”.





The idea of the inevitability of time is portrayed throughout the novel as it effects all of the characters in their own way. As the novel goes on, the characters are slowly revealed and their true characters come out. We see this change as they evolve into someone who may be completely different to how they were initially described to be. Time plays a big part in the way we see Gatsby and how his childhood played out was a big factor in his personality that we see. Time is a constant thing and over time things change but for Gatsby and his love for Daisy, he has this idea in his mind that he can reverse time to five years ago when Gatsby and Daisy first met, to how they used to be, to how Gatsby wants them to be. This goal of turning back time is unobtainable as the five years that he was apart from Daisy, her life progressed where memories were made and new lives were created. For Gatsby it was so easy and simple to comprehend as his whole life revolved around getting back with Daisy but for her it wasn’t so easy as the five years distance was a barrier blocking Gatsby from getting to Daisy. It was if that five years had never passed and Gatsby expected to take off where they left off. Gatsby stated that after she was free they were to go back to Louisville and be married from her house- just as if it were five years ago. Gatsby doesn’t quite understand that he can’t go back in time and repeat what has already happened which is clearly showed by a conversation had by Nick and Gatsby. “I wouldn’t ask too much of her,” I ventured. “You can’t repeat the past” “Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!”. Gatsby and Daisy’s relationship only existed and was built in the past and time has made it impossible for them to stay together as it continually drew them apart.

Time is just as hard for Daisy as it is for Gatsby as during those five years she got married, had a child, made new friends and her life kept on moving. it is impossible for her to completely forget about her life with Tom because five years is a significant amount of time that can’t just be erased in the blink of an eye.

Water is another way the idea of the inevitability of time is conveyed throughout the novel as the bay of water separates Gatsby from Daisy and that bay is a physical representation of the time barrier that is keeping them apart. This barrier can not be erased just like time can not be erased as time never stops but keeps going forward.


the term “American Dream” is a term first used by an American historian called James Truslow Adams who used the term to describe the hope that in America anyone can become rich and famous, that everyone is equal and free, that their are no social classes and no matter where they come from or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success if they work hard enough for it.

In the Great Gatsby, the American Dream is presented as the idea that people are always reaching out to something that is greater than themselves, that is just out of reach. At first glimpse of Gatsby the idea of the American dream is portrayed well through a quote by Nick. “But I didn’t call to him for he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone–he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward–and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock.” In the Great Gatsby it is clear to see that the idea of the American dream is in fact just a dream and not a reality as there are social classes and discriminations resulting in the rich and the poor. Gatsby came from a family with little money but he had ambitions and great desire to be successful. He had learned the manners and knowledge of the upper class thanks to Dan Cody but had no money to back this up. He was determined to become part of the upperclass and made his way to the riches through illegal jobs. Although he is rich, the people of West Egg do not accept him as one of them as his way to money seemed dodgy and illegitimate. To Gatsby, the ultimate success and status symbol is Daisy, and she is what he needs to attain his own level of success. George and Myrtle Wilson are both working class people who work hard in hope for success. They both strive for the upper class lifestyle, George through his hours upon hours of hardworking in the garage and Myrtle through her affair with Tom Buchanan. Though they both do things in hope of achieving the American Dream, but in reality no matter what they do they will always be stuck living in the valley of ashes; the lower class. Everyone is striving for their own success, to achieve the lifestyle they desire but in reality their dream of success is just out of reach and continues to be out of reach.



symbol 3 quotes from the book that describe the symbol 3 moments when the symbol appears                    major characters that the symbol is connected       to  what the symbol is representing important things the symbol reveals about ideas and characters
water “it’s stopped raining”. “has it ?”

“If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay,” said Gatsby. “You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock.”

“Of course, of course! They’re fine!” and he added hollowly, “. . .old sport.” The rain cooled about half−past three to a damp mist, through which occasional thin drops swam like dew.

the symbol appears:

  • during Daisy and Gatsby’s meeting in the form of rain and mist
  • the swimming pool is full of water and it is where Gatsby dies
  • in the form of the bay where the physical body of water separates Daisy and Gatsby
  • Gatsby
  • Daisy
the symbol of water:

it is a portrayal of time and a barrier of how the 5 years that Gatsby and Daisy have been apart for is not allowing Gatsby to achieve his dream. Gatsby has a dream of turning back time but you can never turn back time.

eyes Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward.

But above the gray land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg.

The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic their irises are one yard high. They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose


 the symbol of eyes appears:

  • every time they pass through the valley of ashes as the eyes of T.J Eckleburg are on the billboard to the side of the road.
  • to introduce every new character they often use eyes to describe them such as when we first met Tom Buchanan
 the symbol of eyes are kind of connected to most of the significant characters s they re used to establish characters but the mood of Gatsby is quite often portrayed by his facial features such as his eyes. the eyes of Doctor T.J Eckleburg- a symbol as if they are gods eyes looking down and judging the American society. The eyes of god see everything and look down on the death of the American dream.
the colour white

They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house.

Sometimes she and Miss Baker talked at once, unobtrusively and with a bantering inconsequence that was never quite chatter, that was as cool as their white dresses and their impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire.

Taking a white card from his wallet, he waved it before the man’s eyes.

When Nick went over to the Buchanans house and Daisy and Jordan were on the couch wearing white fluttery dresses rippling in the breeze

When Gatsby takes Nick for a ride in his fancy car to New York and on the way back he got pulled over but flashed his white card and flashed it at the policeman.

Gatsby turned up to Nicks house  for his and Daisys set meet and he was wearing a white flannel suit.

The colour white is mainly connected to Daisy but also Gatsby and Jordan.  the colour white is generally seen as a colour and symbol of innocence and purity but Daisys character is far from pure and innocent and is a false representation

This idea of innocence and purity hides Daisys true character and in reality she is very bland and plain like a white piece of paper.

yellow and gold 

An hour later the front door opened nervously, and Gatsby, in a white flannel suit, silver shirt, and gold−colored tie, hurried in.

His bedroom was the simplest room of all except where the dresser was garnished with a toilet set of pure dull gold.

That was it. I’d never understood before. It was full of money that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it. . . . high in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl. .. .

When Gatsby was preparing for his meet with Daisy he arrived at Nicks house wearing a gold coloured tie.

in Gatsby’s house when he is giving Daisy a house tour his bedroom is described as being very simple apart from the dresser which was garnished with pure gold.

just before Gatsby, Nick, Daisy, Tom and Jordan go to New York City Gatsby talks about how Daisys voice is full of money and mentions the golden girl.


  • Gatsby
  • Daisy
  • Jordan
The colour gold is a representation of money and riches. The gold gives a sense of superiority as only certain characters can be linked to the colour gold as it is a symbol of wealth. Yellow on the other hand seems like a symbol of fake gold.
the green light

Involuntarily I glanced seaward and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock.

“If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay,” said Gatsby. “You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock.”

And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock.

When Nick first sees his neighbour Gatsby he is standing on the end of his dock in the dark reaching out to the dark water where there in the distance was the single green light.

When Daisy is at Gatsby’s house and it begins to rain again they all look outside and Gatsby makes a reference to the light.

After Gatsby’s death when Nick is thinking about Gatsby’s life and his dream he again wonders about the green light.

  •  Gatsby
The green light is a symbol of Gatsby’s unattainable hopes and dreams and the future he perceives with Daisy. For Gatsby it is as if the dream and future he has created for him self in his mind in within arms reach but at the same time just out of his grasp and as time passes his dream becomes further and further out of his reach.


GATSBY paid a high price for living too long with a single dream

  • Death
  • life with Daisy
  • implies that Gatsby has never had any other experience or like with other girls

GATSBY shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is

  • link (via the flower) to Daisy
  • a rose has thorns that can prick and hurt you but when you first look at it, all you see is the beauty and perfection.
  • Daisy is the same. Gatsby sees her beauty and perfection and only at the last moment, realises that she is damaging/ dangerous. she is not what she seems

a new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drift fortuitously about..

  • Gatsby creates this
  • he creates a new persona at 17
  • his life is there but its also not. He became jay Gatsby and created a life, home etc. that goes wth it but it was never real. it was an illusion
  • he was never truely living so he was always a ghost in the real world



Gatsby the valley of ashes annotation

ABOUT half way between West Egg and New York the motor road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter of a mile, so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land. This is a valley of ashes a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air. Occasionally a line of gray cars crawls along an invisible track, gives out a ghastly creak, and comes to rest, and immediately the ash−gray men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an impenetrable cloud, which screens their obscure operations from your sight.

But above the gray land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg.

  • on the way to New York
  • shrink implies that the road wants to pull away from this area but can’t go far. its “creeped” by it
  • Desolate means “bleak emptiness”, not much happening, its unpleasant. The area doesn’t produce or grow.
  • valley= hole-like, ashes= Burnt out, dying. New York and other surrounding areas dump their ashes from the fire here.
  • farm, grow, garden all imply life, however Fitzgerald states that “ashes” are growing into things you might normally find on a farm. he also says the gardens are grotesque- ugly, disgusting, repulsive
  • ashes are forming everything. They are the only things that are growing and therefore Fitzgerald is trying to illustrate that the feeling of being “burnt out” has taken over this place.
  • beyond or above the range of normal human experience. These people live in a world where this is the everyday.
  • worn out, tired, you are going to break.
  • not easily understood, not the ordinary 
  • these words emphasis the creepiness of the art and give it a gloomy, paranormal feeling.
  • the dust and ashes that are drifting over the barren and obscuring sight





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