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Kelso High School English Department
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Chapter Five Characterisation Gatsby, Daisy, Nick Style Theme American Upper Class Structure Symbolism Weather, Clock, Mansion, Kilspringer
Structure – Pivotal Chapter • This is the pivotal chapter of the novel • Previously, Gatsby’s reunion with Daisy has existed only in PROSPECT • However, from Chapter 5 on the plot shifts to focus on the romance between Gatsby and Daisy • In addition, this chapter introduces the theme of the past’s significance to the future
Characterisation - Nick • “I’m going to call up Daisy tomorrow and invite her over here to tea…What day would suit you?” • Nick is happy to act as a go-between to facilitate the relationship between Gatsby and Daisy • Discussion: What does this suggest about his morals? Is he as honest as he professes?
Characterisation - Nick • Indeed, Nick’s reliability as a narrator is again called into question. Discuss the way in which the following quote when he is writing about Gatsby conveys this:- “like an ecstatic patron of recurrent light”
Characterisation - Nick • Nick is transforming Gatsby into a mythical figure. • Does this add to or detract from his reliability as a narrator?
Characterisation - Daisy • Daisy’s normally glib character is immediately apparent when Nick calls her to invite her for tea :- ‘Who is “Tom”?’ she asked innocently. • However, at this stage she does not know that Gatsby is involved in the arrangements
Characterisation - Daisy • However, it is clear by her reaction that she gets a shock when she first meets Gatsby • Analyse the following quote to explain why it reveals an awkwardness between the two “From the living room I heard a sort of choking murmur and part of a laugh…Daisy’s voice on a clear artificial note…a pause; it endured horribly…..Daisy who was sitting frightened but graceful, on the edge of a stiff chair”
Characterisation - Daisy • However, as time passes, it is clear that Daisy relaxes:- ‘I’m glad, Jay.’ Her throat, full of aching, grieving beauty, told only of her unexpected joy.” Discussion Why is Daisy’s sincerity particularly striking to the reader?
Characterisation - Daisy • However, which aspects of Daisy’s character are highlighted by the following quotes:- “I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes”
Characterisation - Daisy • “Suddenly with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily. ‘They’re such beautiful shirts,’ she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. ‘It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such – such beautiful shirts before.’
Characterisation - Daisy • Consider: - Is this the more honest Daisy? Is she genuinely moved? • Yes, she is overjoyed at his success, but it is clearly apparent that she is moved by materialistic things
Characterisation - Daisy • Does this indicate to the reader that she falls short of the ideal version lodged in Gatsby’s heart and imagination?
Characterisation - Daisy • This idea is reinforced by Nick:- “There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams – not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything.”
Characterisation - Gatsby • It is immediately apparent that Gatsby is extremely nervous about meeting Daisy • Read the following quote and identify the various phrases which convey this:-
Characterisation - Gatsby • “An hour later the front door opened nervously…He was pale and there were dark signs of sleeplessness beneath his eyes…’Is everything alright’ he asked immediately….’What grass?’ he inquired blankly. ‘Oh, the grass in the yard.’ He looked out the window at it, but, judging from his expression, I don’t believe he saw a thing.”
Characterisation - Gatsby • In wishing to resume his relationship with Daisy, Gatsby envisages his future in terms of an event that is irretrievably in the past
Characterisation - Gatsby • Consider the following quote:- “This is a terrible mistake,’ he said, shaking his head from side to side, ‘a terrible, terrible mistake.’ • We have the idea that this is the real Gatsby. His theatrical qualities fall away and for once his responses appear genuine. He appears love-struck and awkward
Characterisation - Gatsby • Indeed, Gatsby is portrayed as a love struck teenager – “He literally glowed….He smiled like a weather man, like an ecstatic patron of recurrent light”
Characterisation - Gatsby • “Once he nearly toppled down a flight of stairs” successfully conveys the effect Daisy has on Gatsby • “When I try to-” illustrates the intensity of his feelings for Daisy. He is rendered speechless just by her brushing her hair. Words are inadequate to express what he feels for Daisy
Symbolism - Weather • When Gatsby and Daisy first meet the weather matches their mood. The rain adds depression and melancholy to the scene • However, as their love reawakens and hope emerges for the possibility of a future relationship, the sun comes out :- “ the sun shone again….twinkle bells of sunshine”
Symbolism - Weather • The improvement in the weather is representative of the improvement in Gatsby’s mood and in Gatsby’s life now that he has been reunited with Daisy
Symbolism - Clock • “Luckily the clock took this moment to tilt dangerously at the pressure of his head, whereupon he turned and caught it with trembling fingers, and set it back in place” • His nervousness about how Daisy’s attitude to him may have changed causes him to knock over Nick’s clock. This symbolises the clumsiness of his attempts to stop time and retrieve the past
Symbolism - Gatsby’s House • “Inside we wandered through Marie Antoinette music-rooms and Restoration Salons…swathed in rose and lavender silk…through dressing rooms and poolrooms and bathrooms with sunken baths” • Gatsby’s mansion is not a home, but simply an extravagant prop in his attempt to woo Daisy
Symbolism - Kilspringer • ‘Kilspringer plays the piano…. ‘I don’t hardly play at all” • There is no sense of friendship between Gatsby and his lodger. They do not even refer to each other using first names. This suggests that he is just another prop in the Gatsby show
Symbolism - Kilspringer • “Doing liver exercises on the floor” • Symbolic of the over indulgent lives of the American Upper classes. These were exercises designed to compensate for the over consumption of alcohol