Where is the Plaza Hotel, and what does it symbolize?

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Plaza Hotel is in downtown Manhattan. It is a grand, elite hotel, and as such, it is Tom Buchanan's turf, symbolizing the suffocating existence life with Tom offers. It is Tom's world. It is here that Tom will ruthlessly demolish Gatsby, his newly-recognized rival for Daisy, and win back his wife, as she opts for a suffocating security over the risks Gatsby represents.

Tom is the one who decides they will go to the city and that they will meet "in front of the Plaza" when they all arrive in Manhattan in two different cars.

The suite is "stifling," like Tom, with only one window that lets in "a gust of hot shrubbery." As is almost always the case when Tom is around, misery ensues. Everyone is hot, uncomfortable and on edge. Old-money, horsey-set Tom, representing the elite, racist and reactionary old order against the new as represented by the status-incongruous Gatsby and his wild parties, goes after Gatsby aggressively. He calls him "Mr. Nobody from Nowhere" and implies that if his wife can an affair with someone like Gatsby, "intermarriage between black and white" will follow. The mortified Jordan and Nick try to leave, but Tom won't let them, as if he wants witnesses to Gatsby's humiliation.

A wedding takes place below. "Muffled and suffocating" chords drifting up from it on the "hot waves" of air are juxtaposed with Tom's memories of his wedding to Daisy. 

But by the end of their time in the Plaza, Tom has won. Daisy's "frightened eyes" show that "whatever courage she had had," it was "definitely gone."

The Plaza, stifling, muffled and suffocating, wealthy and grand, symbolizes life with Tom.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Plaza Hotel is located on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, right near the southern rim of Central Park. It has long been associated with elegance and money. In The Great Gatsby, the characters arrange to rent a suite in the Plaza Hotel in Chapter 7. Nick later cannot remember what exactly brought the party to the Plaza, but it is clear that the heat and the anxiety of the moment make him nervous. He recalls:

"The prolonged and tumultuous argument that ended by herding us into that room eludes me, though I have a sharp physical memory that, in the course of it, my underwear kept climbing like a damp snake around my legs and intermittent beads of sweat raced cool across my back" (page numbers vary by edition). 

The Plaza, with its cool and refined elegance, proves to be Gatsby's undoing. The Plaza, like the polo grounds, is one of the places where Tom feels right at home and Gatsby feels more out of place. While there, Tom informs Daisy of Gatsby's gangsterism, including his bootlegging, and she is appalled and seems to gravitate back to Tom. The grandeur of the Plaza also probably helps to convince her that Tom's world of tasteful old money suits her better than Gatsby's flashy, nouveau riche (newly rich) money, as displayed in his pretentious house in West Egg. 

kheady | Student

The Plaza Hotel in New York City is located at the prestigious address of Central Park and Park Avenue. It has symbolized the ultimate in luxurous living since in opening in 1907. It was recently renovated and has renewed and restored the original opulance.

It is the setting for the Eloise children's books and has been designated a national literary landmark.

Read the study guide:
The Great Gatsby

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