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Gatsby Embodies West Egg Essay

In the novel, “The Great Gatsby”, Scott Fitzgerald uses various literary devices such as theme, irony, and characterization to embody Gatsby with West Egg characteristics. The Great Gatsby is set in New York and on Long Island, in two areas known as West Egg and East Egg. The narrator, Nick, describes West Egg as the home to the “new rich,” those who, having made their fortunes recently, have neither the social connections nor the refinement to move among the East Egg set. West Egg is characterized by lavish displays of wealth and garish poor taste.

Both locations can be seen generally as: established aristocracy for East Egg and the self-made rich in West Egg. Therefore, there’s definitely a discrepancy between the two places. Gatsby, one of the protagonists of the novel, lives in a huge mansion in West Egg and is an urbane man. He hosts parties every night which are full of fun and action, he seems like a man that exhilarates people to have fun. Gatsby embodies the characteristics of West Egg as he, at least until chapter 5, has made himself rich.

In chapter 5 Gatsby clarifies that he did inherit his money from his family who bequeathed it to him, however he “lost most of it in the big panic- the panic of the war” (Fitzgerald 87). Therefore he got involved in the drug business and oil business to make money again, which he is no longer involved in. This is one way Gatsby embodies West Egg as he made himself rich by working in these 2 businesses. It is clear that Gatsby is wealthy as he owns an enormous house with “a swim pool, beach, vast garden, fancy parties and marble everywhere” (Fitzgerald 11).

This portrays one of the themes in the novel, the clash between “old money” and “new money”, that manifests itself in the novel’s symbolic geography: East Egg and West Egg. Gatsby would be considered the “new money”, while people such as Tom, which come from a wealthy family, is the “old money”. This is a pivotal theme throughout the novel as it affects various aspects of characters and setting. This also relates to how the discrepancy between West Egg and East Egg affects the characterization of certain characters.

Gatsby is characterized as a man that is wealthy and loves to share his “happiness” with others by hosting numerous parties which are full of expensive drinks such as “Chartreuse” (Fitzgerald 88) held in his luxurious mansion. Irony is also present in the first chapters of the novel, as before Nick Carraway met Gatsby, no one truly knew who he was or where he came from. There where a few rumors, such as him killing someone or being the son of a German king, however no one knew the truth and people wanted to ascertain more about Gatsby. Many scrutinized his background as many wondered where he came from, and who he truly was.

Throughout the novel the reader know learns more about Gatsby. One might expect Gatsby, the organizer of the huge parties, to be an active, energetic, and creative person; however its ironic how the reader finds out Gatsby is the complete opposite. He is describes as a man of class, elegant, who doesn’t drink, isn’t an alcoholic, and isn’t a great partier himself, as he isn’t often present during his parties where everyone else is. This is another reason why he embodies the characteristics of West Egg, because in West Egg, those who made themselves rich, don’t, or at least until now, haven’t mentioned the way they earned their wealth.

Gatsby doesn’t tell everyone immediately the way he became rich, he rarely talks about it. Also Nick, the narrator, he lives in West Egg, therefore he must have some sort of wealth, however he doesn’t mention it or clarifies exactly where he got it from. Instead East Egg seems to work in a different way, since it’s the place of “old money” and established aristocracy, that means people are established rich and have most likely inherited wealth from their family, such as Tom. Therefore, Fitzgerald portrays Gatsby in such ways that fulfill the characteristics of a man living in West Egg.


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