Socratic Seminar For The Great Gatsby That Includes Themes Such As Marriage And Love English Socratic Sominar

2162 words - 9 pages

Jayden Desjardins
Ms. Cameron
English 621A
May 17 2018
Socratic Seminar: The Great Gatsby
1.
a. The title of the book is a metaphor of Gatsby. He serves as this grand illusion of a
great and larger-than-life character as portrayed by the gossip and rumors at his
parties.
b. As far as Nick is concerned, Gatsby is truly great. Even at the end of the novel
when his pretentions to wealth and social status have been revealed as fraudulent,
to Nick, Gatsby is still a better person than Daisy, Tom and everyone else. Gatsby
has been a true friend to Nick, and Nick is keen that Gatsby understands that this
is more valuable than any amount of wealth or than having been able to pretend
he had gone to Oxford.
c. Nick said this quote after his many encounters with Gatsby, once he finally
realized that Gatsby was pure of heart. Nick was initially (and justifiably)
doubtfuland suspicious of Gatsby, a shady “entrepeneur”, made rich by an
unspoken (criminal) means whose life goal was to win over the wife of another
man. However, by the end of the novel Nick concluded that Gatsby had gone
through all this trouble and became who he was so that he could hopefully one
day win back the love of his life, Daisy. Meanwhile, Nick also figured out by then
the disdain he had for the other people he had met and associated with. His
cousin, Daisy, was exposed to him as vain and simplistic womanwho wants
security and a lifestyle over true love. The rest of Nick’s squad was also exposed
to be vain, money oriented and superficial. Everyone who had attended Gatsby’s
parties and associated with him never did so out of true friendship, but rather out
of selfishness and their desiresto be associated with money and high end parties.
d. Though Gatsby has always wanted to be rich, his main motivation in acquiring his
fortune was his love for Daisy, whom he met as a young military officer in
Louisville before leaving to fight in World War I in 1917. It’s clear that since his
motivations were for love, it makes us like Gatsby and be capable of overlooking
some of the mistakes that he had made in his lifetime.
e. Gatsby becomes a representation of America itself: restless, resourceful and
active. It’s those qualities, along with his determination, that we give American
heroes, like Ben Franklin and George Washington. Like a child, Gatsby retains a
kind of innocent quality.
f. In my opinion, Gatsby is not great. I see the title as reflecting what he wanted to
think of himself as being - the image he had cultivated and wa trying to present to
the rest of the world. If I had to rename the novel with the same structure but
more accurate, I would title it The Delusional Gatsby.
2.
a. the ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve
success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative.
b. While Gatsby’s story arc resembles a traditional rags-to-riches tale, the fact that
he gained his money immorally complicates the idea that he is a perfect avatar for
the American Dream. Furthermore, his success obviously doesn’t last – he still
pines for Daisy and loses everything in his attempt to get her back.
“But I didn't call to him for he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be
alone--he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far
as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced
seaward--and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far
away, that might have been the end of a dock.” ​(1.152)
In our first glimpse of Jay Gatsby, we see him reaching towards something far off,
something in sight but definitely out of reach. This famous image of the green
light is often understood as part of The Great Gatsby’s meditation on The
American Dream – the idea that people are always reaching towards something
greater than themselves that is just out of reach.
“His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy's white face came up to his own. He
knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her
perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he
waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon
a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips' touch she blossomed for him like a flower
and the incarnation was complete.”​ (6.134)
This moment explicitly ties Daisy to all of Gatsby’s larger dreams for a better life
– to his American Dream. This sets the stage for the novel’s tragic ending, since
Daisy cannot hold up under the weight of the dream Gatsby projects onto her.
Instead, she stays with Tom Buchanan, despite her feelings for Gatsby. Thus
when Gatsby fails to win over Daisy, he also fails to achieve his version of the
American Dream. This is why so many people read the novel as a somber or
pessimistic take on the American Dream, rather than an optimistic one.
c. Gatsby himself is obviously the best candidate for writing about the American
Dream – he comes from humble roots (he’s the son of poor farmers from North
Dakota) and rises to be notoriously wealthy, only for everything to slip away from
him in the end. Many people also incorporate Daisy into their analyses as the
physical representation of Gatsby’s dream.
d. Fitzgerald not only condemns the american dream but he sets the death and
downfall of it as the main theme of the novel. He deliberately makes all the
characters with money seem unhappy, dysfunctional, snobby and immoral, thus
conotradicting the idea of the american dream.
e. As more people used credit to purchase goods, Americans accrued a lot of debt.
Keeping up with the American Dream was growing into a costly endeavor. People
still strived for lives like the ones they saw on television. Those televised lives
were becoming increasingly extravagant and unrealistic. Furthermore, saving was
no longer necessary. The American Dream could be purchased on credit. Then the
mortgage crisis of the early twenty-first century caused many people to lose the
lives they had worked so hard to achieve. In his inaugural speech, President
Barack Obama spoke of the reversal of the American Dream. He was referring to
the many people who were losing their homes. President Obama suggested many
young people no longer believed they could have better lives than their parents,
but that the American Dream did still exist—the problem was in our
understanding of it.
Many people speculate that the American Dream has become something few can
attain. Owning land is no longer the dream. Owning a home is no longer the
dream. Even having a good life is no longer the dream. Instead, many people
strive to own the most expensive vehicles, the largest homes, the most stylish
clothes, and so on. Under this definition, the American Dream can be possessed
by only a few citizens. As a result of this new definition, the American Dream is
more difficult to see in action. Because of the recession, many Americans have
struggled just to keep their families fed. Furthermore, the best schools and other
amenities seem to be attainable for only the wealthiest citizens. Many Americans
must prioritize needs because they cannot afford as much as they once had. The
contradiction in this belief that the American Dream is no longer possible is that
Americans have more now than they have ever possessed before. If people fear
that the American Dream is dead, it is because the concept has changed from the
idea that everyone can improve their life through hard work to the idea that
everyone can become a millionaire through virtually no work. The American
Dream as first conceived, however, is still possible. While people often must
struggle, they are not sentenced to stay at that same station forever. They have the
right to strive for more.
f. In these last four paragraphs, the past and the future merge as both become a
source of ideas and dreams. These dreams are corrupted by materialism, making
the corrupted or failed American Dream a theme of the novel.
On his last night before returning to Minnesota, Nick revisits the "huge,
incoherent failure of a house" that has been Gatsby's. This mansion, imitative of a
hôtel de ville, represents the failure of his American dream and the illusory path
of Gatsby's life.
Gatsby's is one of the "inessential houses" that has begun to "melt away" in Nick's
vision until he imagines the old island that Dutch sailors once discovered. It was a
land of great opportunity, one vast and awe-inspiring. Indeed, this dream of the
new continent must have been something like Gatsby's dream. Like the
immigrants to America who believed in the new land of opportunity where one
could reshape oneself and attain success and wealth, Gatsby too believed in
limitless opportunity. Often he stood upon his illusory "blue lawn" before the
imitation of a resplendent old-world structure, unaware of the "dark fields" of
corruption that lay "under the night."
Thus, the once-pristine and real American Dream has become tawdry and venal as
it has been corrupted by the immorality, deception, and ill-gotten gains generated
from materialism. Only Gatsby continued to believe in the dreams and strive
toward the green light at the end of the dock.
3.
a. Marriage and "love" are directly connected to wealth and power. Love in fact
becomes a commodity in this sense. We find out that Daisy was drunk at her
bridal dinner and denying that she ever wanted to marry Tom at all. She is
clutching a letter from Gatsby (this is implied) and falling apart over her
impending wedding to Tom. Daisy however pulls herself together. She marries
Tom the next day fully aware that her social and economic status will always be
among the filthy rich. Daisy sacrificed her "love" for Gatsby to be a true socialite.
b. As Jordan relates in a flashback, Daisy almost changed her mind about marrying
Tom after receiving a letter from Gatsby (an earlier relationship of hers, discussed
below), but eventually went through with the ceremony “without so much as a
shiver” (4.142).
Daisy appeared quite in love when they first got married, but the realities of the
marriage, including Tom’s multiple affairs, have worn on her. Tom even cheated
on her soon after their honeymoon, according to Jordan: “It was touching to see
them together—it made you laugh in a hushed, fascinated way. That was in
August. A week after I left Santa Barbara Tom ran into a wagon on the Ventura
road one night and ripped a front wheel off his car. The girl who was with him got
into the papers too because her arm was broken—she was one of the
chambermaids in the Santa Barbara Hotel” (1.143).
So what makes the Buchanans tick? Why has their marriage survived multiple
affairs and even a hit-and-run? Find out through our analysis of key quotes from
the novel.
c. Although Myrtle was taken with George at first, she overestimated his money and
“breeding” and found herself married to a mechanic and living over a garage in
Queens, a situation she’s apparently unhappy with (2.112).
However, divorce was uncommon in the 1920s, and furthermore, the
working-class Myrtle doesn’t have access to wealthy family members or any
other real options, so she stays married – perhaps because George is quite devoted
and even in some ways subservient to her.
A few months before the beginning of the novel in 1922, she begins an affair with
Tom Buchanan, her first affair (2.117). She sees the affair as a way out of her
marriage, but Tom sees her as just another disposable mistress, leaving her
desperate and vulnerable once George finds out about the affair.
d. In the first chapter of The Great Gatsby, Nick finds himself immediately attracted
to Jordan Baker. Much of his description of her is physical. Slender and charming
are two terms he uses to describe her and he also admires her discontentment and
apparent superiority to the situation she is in.
e. After he has been going around with Jordan Baker, who is a golf champion and
plays in tournaments, Nick learns that she cheated in her first big tournament. ...
Nick has learned that Jordan Baker is a "bad driver," meaning that she is
mendacious, incurably dishonest, and he breaks off his relationship with her.
f. For the majority of the characters love isn’t about love it is about what you can
gain from your partner. For example, Daisy and Gatsby had love but she refused
to follow her heart because she could be more of a socialite with her husband who
also had more money.

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