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The Role of The West in The Great Gatsby

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Words: 746 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 746|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a classic American novel set in the 1920s. While the story primarily focuses on the lives of characters living in the East, the presence and influence of the West cannot be ignored. This essay aims to explore the role of the West in The Great Gatsby, highlighting the significance of characters from the West and the implications of their actions. By examining the interactions between characters from the East and the West, we can gain a deeper understanding of the novel's themes and the societal dynamics of the time. Ultimately, this essay argues that the West serves as a catalyst for the events in the novel, driving the pursuit of the American Dream and leading to the downfall of characters.

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The role of the West in The Great Gatsby can be seen through the characters who hail from this region. One such character is Jay Gatsby himself, who is originally from North Dakota. Gatsby's origins in the West play a crucial role in shaping his character and ambitions. As Nick Carraway, the narrator, observes, Gatsby's "extraordinary gift for hope" is a result of his belief in the American Dream, a dream traditionally associated with the West (Fitzgerald, 6). Gatsby's relentless pursuit of wealth and social status can be interpreted as an attempt to embody the spirit of the West and achieve the idealized version of success it represents.

Another character from the West is Tom Buchanan, who hails from Chicago. While not the protagonist of the novel, Tom's presence is significant in revealing the clash between the East and the West. Tom represents the old money and traditional values associated with the East, while his affairs with women from the West, such as Myrtle Wilson, symbolize his desire to explore the freedom and excitement of the West. This conflict between the East and the West is further highlighted in Tom's confrontation with Gatsby, where their differing worldviews and backgrounds lead to tension and ultimately tragedy.

Furthermore, the West is also represented through the character of Jordan Baker. Though not explicitly mentioned as being from the West, Jordan's personality and demeanor align with the characteristics often associated with the West. She is described as "incurably dishonest" and "incurably skeptical" (Fitzgerald, 63). These traits, combined with her independence and self-reliance, mirror the spirit of the West. Jordan's presence in the novel adds to the complexity of the East-West dichotomy, showcasing the clash between the traditional values of the East and the more modern and individualistic attitudes of the West.

The implications of the characters from the West in The Great Gatsby are far-reaching. Their presence serves as a catalyst for the events in the novel, driving the pursuit of the American Dream and leading to the downfall of several characters. Gatsby's obsession with Daisy, a woman from the East, can be seen as a manifestation of his desire to bridge the gap between the East and the West. His pursuit of wealth and status is ultimately aimed at winning Daisy's love and acceptance, symbolizing his attempt to merge his Western origins with the Eastern elite. However, this quest proves futile, as the East rejects Gatsby and his aspirations, leading to his tragic demise.

Similarly, Tom's affairs with women from the West, particularly Myrtle Wilson, reveal the destructive consequences of the collision between the East and the West. Myrtle's affair with Tom is an attempt to escape her mundane life in the Valley of Ashes and experience the glamour and excitement of the East. However, this desire ultimately leads to her death, as the collision between the two worlds proves fatal. The West, with its promises of freedom and opportunity, ultimately serves as a catalyst for tragedy in the novel.

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In conclusion, the role of the West in The Great Gatsby is significant and multi-faceted. Through characters such as Gatsby, Tom Buchanan, and Jordan Baker, Fitzgerald explores the clash between the East and the West, highlighting the implications of their interactions. The pursuit of the American Dream, driven by characters from the West, leads to both hope and tragedy. The West represents freedom, opportunity, and individualism, but it also brings about disillusionment and downfall. By examining the role of the West in The Great Gatsby, we gain a deeper understanding of the novel's themes and the societal dynamics of the time. Ultimately, Fitzgerald's portrayal of the West serves as a cautionary tale, warning against the dangers of unchecked ambition and the pursuit of an elusive dream.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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The Role Of The West In The Great Gatsby. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-role-of-the-west-in-the-great-gatsby/
“The Role Of The West In The Great Gatsby.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-role-of-the-west-in-the-great-gatsby/
The Role Of The West In The Great Gatsby. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-role-of-the-west-in-the-great-gatsby/> [Accessed 23 Jul. 2024].
The Role Of The West In The Great Gatsby [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 13 [cited 2024 Jul 23]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-role-of-the-west-in-the-great-gatsby/
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