- Slides: 15
The Great Gatsby Chapter Eight
Chapter 8 Summary l Nick has a sleepless night. He visits Gatsby, who tells him about the past, and the nature of his love for Daisy. l George Wilson, desperate in his grief, kills Gatsby and then shoots himself.
Find evidence to prove that: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Gatsby’s new cleaners not as effective as his previous ones. Gatsby’s interest in Daisy was not always pure. Nick ultimately admired Gatsby. Nick and Jordan’s relationship is over. George found evidence of Myrtle’s affair. Nick thinks Gatsby realised the truth about Daisy before he died.
Gatsby’s First Attraction to Daisy l Gatsby is desperate to talk about how the love affair between himself and Daisy came about. By talking about her, Gatsby seems to wish to prolong the Dream, even though he should know by now it is lost. l In Gatsby’s narrative, at least we begin to understand his obsession for her. She represents wealth and privilege and we know that Gatsby has long idolised materialism. Daisy is, for Gatsby, the physical embodiment of this. Her voice “full of money” represents the spiritual side of materialism, the very essence of his dream. However, by investing such enormous power in Daisy, Gatsby’s dream is reduced to a mere motivation for material gain.
The Attraction to Daisy l The first thing that attracted Gatsby was Daisy’s wealth – her house in particular (‘there was a ripe mystery about it’). This removes the idea that he was attracted to Daisy in herself. He was – and still is – attracted to the ‘money’ in her. l He liked the fact that she had been enjoyed by other men when he first met her – ‘It increased her value in his eyes’. Note his early tendency to treat her like an object. He conceives of her as almost a piece of property. Do we admire this quality in him? l Gatsby never intended to fall in love with Daisy. He had initially intended to ‘take what he could and go’. His intentions at the start were not noble.
The Attraction to Daisy l He was a ‘penniless man without a past’ when he first met her. In the novel, we find that no matter how well Gatsby can fix the first fault, he cannot fix the second. The affair was doomed from the beginning. l Gatsby was clearly guilty of duplicity in his initial affair with Daisy: He had certainly taken her under false pretences… he had deliberately given Daisy a false sense of security he let her believe that he was a person from the same social strata as herself – that he was fully able to take care of her. Can we really blame Daisy for the breakdown of the affair?
Gatsby l The idea of the pursuit of Daisy is not really the pursuit of an ordinary woman, but a DREAM – the American Dream of prosperity and self-improvement. By seeking out Daisy, Gatsby seeks out a spiritual dream. By pursuing the ‘spiritual’ beauty of what Daisy represents by having the idealism to dedicate himself to something that is beyond him, Gatsby renews our faith in human nature. He reminds us of our capacity to hope.
Nick and Gatsby l Nick again asserts that he disapproved of Gatsby “from beginning to end”, however clearly feels protective towards him – what is he protecting him from? l There is a new sense of vulnerability within Gatsby and Nick shows him kindness at a time when there was very little of it. It is significant that Gatsby is open and truthful – there is obviously some sense of subconscious realisation within him but Gatsby is only confessing these truths in order to keep his dream alive – his own consciousness and devotion to his dream will never allow him to accept it is dead. l Nick sees Gatsby as a man of vision and ideals. He is someone to be admired above the trivial selfishness of others.
Nick and Gatsby l Nick observes that in his disillusionment Gatsby ‘paid a high price for living too long with a single dream’. There is a verbal echo here of Nick’s remark that after the war the Midwest was no longer for him ’the warm centre of the world’. A shared experience of displacement draws the men together. Gatsby was … aware of the youth and mystery that wealth imprisons … and of Daisy, gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor. ” (95) An extremely important quotation (memorise!) which highlights the unfairness of the class system in America and the limitations that even enormous wealth can bring. This is directly linked to the main theme of the novel. Look at the use of the word “imprisons” it is ironic that it is the wealthy, rather than the poor who are not free.
The Weather l The heat – just like Daisy’s passion for Gatsby – has cooled. The fire in Gatsby’s life has been extinguished and Autumn is inexorably approaching. Gatsby’s insistence on swimming in the pool is an overt attempt to turn back time. His downfall comes as a direct result from his stark refusal to accept what he cannot – the passage of time.
The Eyes of Doctor T J Eckleburg l In Wilson’s confused grief, the eyes briefly, and disturbingly, represent the eyes of God, goading him to take revenge for Myrtle’s death – ‘God sees everything’. Of course if materialism is the new religion, the advertising billboard does by extension symbolise God. The eyes are ambiguous, but ultimately they look down on a world devoid of meaning, value and beauty – a world where dreams are exposed as illusions, and cruel, undeserving men triumph at the expense of dreamers like Wilson and Gatsby.
Four o’clock Gatsby tells Nick the following morning: I waited, and about four o’clock she came to the window and stood there or a minute and then turned out the light. The time of 4 o’clock recurs at significant points in the novel: Daisy is reunited with Gatsby at 4 o’clock in the afternoon in chapter 5; she symbolically ‘turns out the light’ during his hero-quest vigil outside her house in the previous chapter, and he later dies at around four in the afternoon. This motif perhaps recurs in order to point out the sympathetic pattern of nature, as it responds to Gatsby’s life. We have already seen how the weather reflects Gatsby’s fortune – now it seems that the cyclical pattern of the day seems to beat in tune to his points of crisis.
Central Tragedy l The central tragedy of the novel is that the best characters – the ones born into poverty, who work hard and who love idealistically – are cut down by the relentless oppression and selfishness of the rich. l Consider Myrtle, Wilson and Gatsby – all trying their best in a world where the odds are stacked against them – all end up dead, while Tom and Daisy move on and start again.
Gatsby’s Epiphany and Death In order to truly fulfil the role of tragic hero, Gatsby need to have an epiphany – a moment of total clarity in which he finds enlightenment and accepts his flaw. l Gatsby is ‘cleansed’ of the sins of materialism and has a moment of realisation. He waits for Daisy’s telephone call until 4 o’clock, but Nick believes that Gatsby finally realised the truth at the bitter end before his death. It is deliberately ambiguous, but Nick at least provides this vicariously when he says that Gatsby must have realised what a grotesque thing a rose is: Perhaps he no longer cared… he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world… he must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is…
Nick suggests that roses aren’t inherently beautiful, and that people choose to view them that way. Daisy is grotesque in the same way –Gatsby has invested her with beauty and meaning by making her the object of his dream. It is Gatsby who has increased Daisy’s value and importance – without him she would merely be yet another idle, rich young woman with no moral strength. Gatsby realises that his dream has been corrupt and full of horror. He realises he has been living in: “A new world, material without being real , where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about…” As Wilson glides towards him, he sees the reality of the world to which Wilson belongs. The ‘new world’ Gatsby has craved is a valley of ashes, unreal and full of pain. In the moments before his death, Nick imagines that Gatsby has realised the hollowness and horror of his dream.