The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald
‘The Great Gatsby’, through the skillful craftsmanship of F. Scott Fitzgerald, explores in great thought provoking depth American life during the 20s. Seen through the eyes of Nick, the book is a series of social gatherings and events each of which compells the reader to take their mind and explore within the various themes of the novel. However, in order to be a particularly effective novel, a book must posess a definitive turning point within its pages; an event which greatly alters the course of the book. And in ‘The Great Gatsby’ it is Chapter V, a deeply significant event inhabiting the very centre of the book.
Through this event, many themes were brought to light in greater detail than before, enabling me to look upon them with a new knowledge. Chapter V is the first meeting between Gatsby and Daisy in a total of five years, beginning amid vast swathes of “pouring rain” – an ominously threatening literary gesture not unseen in works of Dickens. “for at two o’clock, a greenhouse of flowers arrived from Gatsby’s” This line is a part of the greater insight the reader gains into the character of Gatsby and the themes surrounding him.
His nervous and pounding -yet ultimately futile- desire to impress Daisy is frequently demonstrated in this scene: he sends a gardener over to Nick’s house before Daisy arrives in order to ensure she will not find fault or discomfort in a lawn which is minutely too long; he generously adorns Nick’s house with a great deal of flowers and “innumerable receptacles” to contain them in a romantic gesture which he hoped would further impress Daisy and he also arrives at Nick’s door, a display of nervousness, in a “white flannel suit, silver shirt, and gold-coloured tie. As is clear from the oppulence of the colours, he has chosen his clothes to make clear the fact he is a wealthy individual – wealth he has attained only so that Daisy may come to him. The white of his shirt could be said to symbolise the star speckled moonlight of his dreams which, at that moment, he still posesses having not yet encountered his eclipse. Further evidence of Gatsby’s obession is when he claims “One of the papers said the rain would stop about four,” to posess that knowledge he must have spent his morning pouring over various newspapers for a glimpse of Daisy; an activity which he has partaken in ever since he lost her.
True to the newspaper’s prediction, the rain changed into a damp and obscuring mist. This state is not as dire as the previous deluge of rain but may signify the murky world of dreams and illusion Gatsby has inhabited for the past five years of his life; a world which is about to be shattered and the “green light” extinguished. Throughout the meeting Gatsby is clearly and unusually not in control of the situation, a state signified by the fact “Gatsby sat down miserably, as if I had pushed him. ” – it is a rare occurance for Nick to be commanding the actions of Gatsby.
A contrast of states is achieved when Daisy enters the house, sporting a “bright ecstatic smile” amid colours of lilac and lavender while Gatsby later stands “pale as death… hands like weights in his pockets. ” Through the skillful usage of description of characters within this Chapter, Fitzgerald has enabled me to understand with greater depth the theme of dreams and how they come to affect people. Not only the personal dream of Gatsby, but the wider and more famous Dream of America – the two destined for equal demise. His head leaned back so far that it rested against the face of a defunct mantlepiece clock. ” Through this description of Gatsby’s stance, we are further informed of his state and his dream. He leans against the defunct clock of his dreams in a feigned state of boredom as the pouring rain once again rears its head outside. The mentioning of the clock provokes the thought of time, and how Gatsby aches to return Daisy and himself to their state of five years ago in which his dream was was a perfect reality.
The clock tilts dangerously, nudged by Gatsby who promptly catches it “with trembling fingers” and sets it back in place. This gesture only serves to show the fact that even though Gatsby caught the clock and prevented it from smashing and being destroyed outright, time itself cannot be restored – the clock is still defunct, silent and of no use to anyone but a filler for space. Gatsby nervously apologises, the simple response being “It’s an old clock. ” One line saying clearly and simply the fact that Gatsby’s dream is old, outdated and simply unrealistic.
However, hope is given when the otherwise controlled Daisy displays overt emotion when she cries and appears frightened during the meeting. Gatsby must still mean something to her. Moving on to the later stages of the Chapter, there is the tale of the brewer wishing to live a fantasy in which he is in a stately home, surrounded by the thatched roofs of his neighbours. Perhaps visualising himself as the Founder of a Dynasty, he was denied his fantasy by the neighbours who refused his generous offer of five years tax payments and “took the heart out of his plan” thus sending him into “immediate decline”.
He later took his life, a black wreath upon the door of the house which was eventually sold to Gatsby – another man dominated by his dreams. After reading the book, I saw that the story of the brewer could serve as an ‘omen’ of what was to befall Gatsby and the consequences that it would entail. I also was given an even greater insight into dreams and how it is often better to leave them as such. Once again a break in the rain and an outburst of sun signifies the rekindling of Gatsby’s wavering dream.
Exiting Nick’s house, Gatsby seeks to finally persuade Daisy that he is the one by displaying the one thing he did not posess when they first met. He takes her to his house, his showcase of wealth and splendour all acquired for a single reason. “See how the whole front of it catches the light” Gatsby describes his house as catching the sun’s rays, yet the light could be seen as Daisy who is about to be impressed and persuaded by the vastness of Gatsby’s posessions. The house is a myriad of plurals, “music rooms.. Restoration Salons.. poolrooms.. athrooms”, the sheer number of them serving only to impress Daisy as the party made their way through the gigantic house. It is also through this that we see yet more evidence of the devotion Gatsby has for Daisy: “he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well loved eyes” Gatsby doesn’t care about his wealth, posessions or property – only the reaction that they gain from Daisy will be of notice to him. Indeed, his own bedroom was the “simplest of all” within the house of “dull gold”, antiques and other extravagancies.
Gatsby then goes on to display his “massed suits.. and his shirts, piled like bricks in stacks a dozen high”. This eventually turns Daisy, who cries “stormily” into them, uttering how beautiful they are. Following a walk around the grounds, it begins to rain again, Gatsby commenting on how a mist had obscured Daisy’s house as he slowly came to realise his “count of enchanted objects had diminished by one. ” Through this line, the fact that Daisy was no longer a dream but a reality is brought to bear.
Within Gatsby’s dream, she was perfect, but with reality comes realism and the true nature of things – states serving only to disappoint. The beauty of fiction and dreams and the harshness of reality are further distinguished when Daisy wishes to push Gatsby around in a pink cloud which she looks upon from behind the window. Such a fantastical gesture could surely not be carried out, just as the reality of Daisy and Gatsby cannot. The Chapter ends with Nick leaving Gatsby’s house, descending the marble steps and “into the rain” as he leaves the couple together.
Through the description of characters, setting and events within this Chapter I was taken upon a detailed exploration of the ideas which the novel contains. The futility of Gatsby’s dream became all to clear along with echoes of criticism of the American Dream. The strength of emotion, the pain of time and the illusion and hope that man can create were all highlighted to me in a thought provoking Chapter of a multi-layered book which holds much depth in its wealth of pages.
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