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Can anyone help with some essay ideas/quotes for the following topic: In the world of...

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brandih | eNotes Employee

Posted October 3, 2013 at 6:26 PM via web

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Can anyone help with some essay ideas/quotes for the following topic:

In the world of East Egg in The Great Gatsby, alluring appearances serve to cover unattractive realities.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 4, 2013 at 2:12 AM (Answer #1)

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Certainly, the trope of Illusion is one that prevails throughout the narrative of The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald's expository Chapter One literally has curtains opening upon characters who live in a world of illusions. For, when Nick Carraway drives to East Egg to see "two old friends [he] hardly knew," he passes through a high hallway where curtains blow at one end and out the other sending Tom forth to observe a young woman stretched out on the sofa, 

motionless and with her chin raised a little as if she were blancing something on it which was quite likely to fall.

She is the quintessential flapper, Jordan Baker, a golfer, a pseudologist and "a bad driver." She is amoral, disinterested in others, enjoying large parties because they are so "intimate."  But, later, Nick finds himself taking her "golden arm" and accompanying her places after he again encounters her at one of Gatsby's lavish parties.

Daisy appears ethereal on her white sofa in her white gown.

...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.

Daisy, whose voice mesmerizes, speaks without meaning, using superlatives with "stirring warmth." For instance, after dinner, Daisy tells Nick,

"I love to see you at my table, Nick. You remind me of a--of a rose, an absolute rose."

The imitation of the Hotel de Normandy home of Jay Gatsby with its Restoration salons and Marie Antoinette rooms and genuine library and guilded bathroom and a closet that houses a myriad of colored shirts is but an illusion of social position and wealth. Behind all this splendor is ill-gotten money made by an illusionary character, Jay Gatsby--the "great Gatsby"--a parvenu who has re-invented himself from a small town-boy of Minnesota who became a military officer to an "Oxford" man and a "businessman." But, despite Gatsby's pretenses, he does believe in genuine emotions.

Daisy and Tom Buchanan, on the other hand, do not. In Chapter One, Nick senses "the basic insincerity" of what Daisy says. In the past she told Tom Buchanan she would not marry him, but when he gave her $30,000.00 in pearls, she had a change in heart. In Chapter Five, Gatsby becomes "an absolute rose" for her as she wishes she could wrap him in a pink cloud when he tours her through his resplendent mansion. Further, she tells Gatsby she loves him, but when Gatsby demands that Daisy tell Tom she has never loved him, she cannot relinquish her social position. So, she cries, "Oh, you want too much!...I love you now--isn't that enough?" After this, Nick notes,

Her frightened eyes told that whatever intentions, whatever courage she had had, were definitely gone.

Similarly, Tom's love is shallow and sporadic. He pampers his mistress Myrtle Wilson, buying her a dog and beautiful dresses and renting a hotel room; however, he breaks her nose. Later on, this "country gentleman" with a stable of fine horses cannot tell the truth about Myrtle's cause of death; instead, he protects his wife against the charge of vehicular murder of a woman for whom he has feelings. 

Finally, after Gatsby becomes the sacrificial victim to the carelessness of the Buchanans, Nick says good-bye to Jordan Baker, observes that he, too, is a bad driver, a person who does not consider the effect of his action upon others. And, in turn, Nick remarks that the Buchanans "smash up things."

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