Plan for English essay

Describe at least one important character in the written text.

Explain how this character is revealed to you throughout the text.

Character Ideas Evidence
1. Gatsby Caught up in the past. “Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!” 

‘Paid a high price for living too long with a single dream.’

2. Daisy White meaning plain. ‘Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashion-able East Egg glittered along the water.’ 

“I’ve been everywhere and seen everything and done everything.”

3. Nick He is judgemental. ‘They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then they retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…’


Language Features

Fitzgerald has a very poetic way of presenting language. He uses the same devices consistently throughout his writing.

1. Select three passages from the book (about a paragraph or two in length) that we have NOT annotated as a class. Annotate these passages and identify the language features that Fitzgerald uses. Explain the effect of these features and why he may have chosen to use them.

2. Fitzgerald uses many allusions throughout the novel. Select one of these allusions and explain the connection between it and the book. Bonus: how can you link it to our theme of “illusion”.


‘Gatsby, pale as death, with his hands plunged like weights in his coat pockets, was standing in a puddle of water glaring tragically into my eyes.’

  • Pale as death – this is an example of a simile as it compares pale to death which are two similar things.
  • Plunged like weights this is another example of a simile as a weight to plunge would be a likely thing as the are something that is heavy and if you were to throw a weight into water it would plunge into it.
  • Tragically – This is an example of emotive language as the writer wants us to paint an image in our head of how Gatsby really looks in this moment.   


‘Laughter is easier minute by minute, spilled with prodigality, tipped out at a cheerful word. The groups change more swiftly, swell with new arrivals, dissolve and form in the same breath.’

  • Minute by Minute – this is an example of repetition. Words are repeated to make a clearer or more precise understanding of the scene taking place.
  • Cheerful – this is an example of emotive language as Fitzgerald would have wanted to make the writer see the cheerful situation.
  • Dissolve and form – This is an example of a juxtaposition as both of these words contrast towards each other and are placed next to each other.


‘The flowers were unnecessary, for at two o’clock a greenhouse arrived from Gatsby’s, with innumerable receptacles to contain it. An hour later the front door opened nervously, and Gatsby, in a white flannel suit, silver shirt, and gold-colored tie, hurried in. He was pale, and there were dark signs of sleeplessness beneath his eyes.’

  • A greenhouse arrived – this is an example of a hyperbole, because I doubt Gatsby brought an entire greenhouse into Nicks house.
  • The front door opened nervously – this is an example of personifications the door is given human qualities which is in reality not possible.
  • He was pale, and there were dark signs  – this is an example of a paradox as the first statement is contradicted by the second statement.

Allusion Quote

‘As Gatsby closed the door of “the Merton College Library.”’ 

“Merton college library” recreation is a form of illusion. The fact that the library is a ‘fake’ version of a prestigious place links to the persona Gatsby  has created for himself. The library is full of real books (owl-eyes says so in chapter 3) representing the effort that Gatsby is putting into creating himself. The use of real books could also represent the fact that Gatsby honestly believes in his fantasy persona.


We have focused our entire study around illusion and how it is presented in the text. This idea is our central theme.

1. Explain what you think Fitzgerald is trying to say about society by presenting the idea of illusion so thoroughly throughout the text.

2. Discuss how “illusion” is a real idea for teenagers. What problems/challenges/issues do teenagers face each day and how can we relate them to illusion.


We have focused on the theme of illusion throughout this novel study, and Fitzgerald shows a lot of illusion throughout this novel, The Great Gatsby.

The theme illusion in relation to society now and/or at the time this book was published is really relatable to society in many ways even still now. People hide behind these images they create for themselves, these images then become illusions for the people around them/you/us.

Fitzgerald shows us the illusions to what life was like during the 1920’s era. This was after WW1, when nearly everybody all just wanted to party and get drunk. This was at the time harder to do as it was illegal in the United States to produce, import, transport and sell alcoholic beverages. Throughout this book Gatsby has many parties which include the consumption of alcohol, not only this but his parties included many different people on the scale. This included most ages, all classes, both genders and all races, which at the time was frowned upon hugely. Even today people still hide behind the illusion that this type of segregation wasn’t as big as it was and for some people it sadly still is.

Another illusion that comes up a lot in this book is how much the characters believe in the materialism of this world they lived in. ‘A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about…’ Nearly every paragraph or even sentence has illusion in it, just like the one I stated above. A new world, material without being real, this quote shows us how much these characters believed in the materialistic things in the world. In particular Daisy was so attached to these material things and in particular we can see this in the scene where she cry over the beautiful shirts and says “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such — such beautiful shirts before.”



  1. Describe three key characters and how they change in the novel.
  2. Explain what each character helped you to understand about illusion in the novel. Use quotes to support your ideas.
  3. Describe three important relationships in the text and explain what they revealed about illusion. Use quotes to support your answer.

Statement – Explain / eXample – Explain / eXample Explain / Your ideas

Jay Gatsby

In the start of the book Gatsby had so much hope for a future with Daisy, he believed in the green light at the end of her dock as being the hope for a new life with her, This quote can show us how he felt. ‘He stretched out his arms towards the dark water in a curious way… 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.’ He was so hopeful of this that he didn’t see the illusion then. Still hoping even though it was so “minute” and so “far away” he didn’t see that in that moment but Nick did.

As the summer goes on he finally meets Daisy again after 5 years at Nicks cottage, he then invites her to his house to show her around and he points out her house across the bay, “If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay… You always have a light that burns all night at the end of your dock.” In this moment we see that there is no hope left for him and Daisy, as Gatsby is with Daisy in that moment and the Green light has disappeared. As the green light symbolises his hope for both of them to be together.

The rest of the long summer was spent with Daisy after meeting again. Gatsby had then talked it over with Daisy that if they were to be together and move on with a future together, she was to tell her husband Tom that she never loved him. The dispute was to take place and it nearly did although it was said she didn’t mean it and following this they went home and Daisy was to ring Gatsby the next day, but she never did… 

‘He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass. A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about…’ This was how Nick described the way that Gatsby was feeling in that moment, the moment he had realised there was no longer any hope for Him and Daisy to be together. This quote can show us an illusion as it says ‘an unfamiliar sky’ this could mean that Gatsby is looking up at the sky without the filter of Daisy anymore. The ‘frightening leaves’ can show that he may be worried or scared what his life will be like with the filter of Daisy. ‘Grotesque… rose’ this symbolises Daisy as she was Gatsby’s rose, and a rose is something so beautiful when you catch your first glance but roses have thorns and Gatsby was only now seeing that. Gatsby was living his life stuck behind this illusion of hope which never was going to happen. 


Nick Carraway

In the beginning of the story Nick comes of as a straight up person who tells you how it is and doesn’t fake it or add irrelevant judgement. We can see this from the two following quotes, ‘“Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”’ ‘In consequence, I’m inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores.’ Nick being the narrator of this story this would seem like a good trait to have and throughout most of the story he does reserve his judgements.

As the story goes on he continues to show us this side of him. He even tells us himself, ‘I am one of the few honest people I have ever known.’ He tells us this as a way for us to think he is a good person and he has good morals but if you “read between the lines” you will see that maybe he isn’t who he thinks he is or what type of person he wants us to believe he is. This is a part of the illusion about Nick you believe he is this great person who has good morals but in actual fact, he is hiding Tom’s affair and helping Gatsby get back together with Daisy who is married with a child. This makes me think that Nick can show us this idea of illusion as he wants us to believe his is this really nice person who sticks up/by what he believes but if you think about it he really isn’t.

Near the end of the story we read the following quote which ends up going back on what Nick first said in the start of the story, as he said ‘I’m inclined to reserve all judgments.’ This quote shows us that he does judge the other characters in this story which goes back on what he said, ‘They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then they retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…’ From this quote it shows us his real feelings on Tom and Daisy and it can show us more about who Tom and Daisy really were.


Daisy Buchanan

Daisy is thought to be this pure and perfect person who is sweet and kind. Throughout the novel we see that side of her as the narrator of the story; Nick, sees her to have this pure persona but we see parts of her real persona which Nick didn’t pick up on till the end of the story. Here is a quote that I believe can show us some of this persona, “I’ve been everywhere and seen everything and done everything.” Daisy says this in an open conversation she has while talking to Nick and Jordan. By this quote we can tell she wants to believe her life is great and that can almost come off in a stuck up way as if she is trying to tell them her life is better than theirs.

Further on in the story we still see this fake persona she try to pull off, sometimes it can just be in the way she says stuff. She probably means what she says but the as you can read it it feels as though there is a sarcastic tone behind it. As she says here, “I certainly am awfully glad to see you again.” Daisy says this as she meets Gatsby again for the first time in 5 years. In the moment she may feel that way but you can tell by the way that it is written it can show a small amount of sarcasm or like she is trying to act very “proper” or mature. If you compare this quote to the quote in the paragraph above you will notice a major difference. She almost sounds childish and stuck up in the first quote but in this 2nd quote she sounds so innocent and polite. This makes it seems like something doesn’t add up almost as if there are two different people so this could mean that one of these people are fake. This is the illusion behind her as the people who are around her think she is this pure, innocent sweetheart.

Towards the end of the story Nick starts to notice who Daisy really is and that he has been believing in this illusion she has put up in front of her. The first time he really sees it for himself and not through anyone else eyes he says this, ‘She vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life, leaving Gatsby nothing.’ This was always who she was a reckless and careless person who gave Gatsby so much hope and then she grew it all away, making everyone thinking her life was so perfect and she was perfect, when if you really look at her life how could someone be happy with that, she is married to someone who had an affair and not only that but she has a child with him. Yes she may have a lot of money but as people say money can’t buy you happiness. 


3 important relationships throughout the novel 

Gatsby and Nick

Gatsby and Nick have a strong relationship in this novel, and especially for only knowing each other for only 3 months (the summer). Their relationship can show us illusion as nick is drawn in by Gatsby and believes in his happy and full life by the way he smiles as it is shown in this quote  ‘He smiled understandingly – much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in a life.’ Throughout the novel Nick talks about Gatsby have a smile that is so pure, but people can fake smiles and Nick never sees this in Gatsby, yet he still to the end believed in “The Great Gatsby.”

Tom and Myrtle

Tom and Myrtle’s relationship shows us a lot about illusion throughout the novel. Their relationship was based on illusion as they both were trying to live a life they knew they would never have. It was like a game of mums and dads when you were young, as they pretended to live this life outside of their real life. Tom rented out an apartment and they would stay there, he even bought Myrtle a dog, and they both acted as if that was their life.

Gatsby and Daisy

Gatsby and Daisy’s relationship can be heavily related to illusion as right throughout the novel it seems so pure and it eludes us to believe I the hope Gatsby has for them as well, but we then find that is not the case. As we read the novel there are little snippets of who Daisy is, but as we come to the end we see who she fully who she is. This who character she is playing not only eludes us but it gives Gatsby so much hope, only to be ripped away right under him in the end.



We have looked at several symbols in The Great Gatsby. Select 3 key symbols from the text and do the following for each symbol:

– Provide a description (using quotes) of the symbol from the text.

– Explain when and why the symbol appears throughout the text.

– Analyse what the symbol helps you to understand about an important character.

– Make a link between the symbol and the idea of illusion.


Dr T.J Eckleburg Eyes

Throughout this novel The Eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are used as a reference to god. We can see this by the the two following quotes.

‘Over the ashheaps the giant eyes of doctor T. J. Eckleburg kept their vigil.’ This quote shows us the symbol of god as the eyes of doctor T. J. Eckleburg are described to have “kept their vigil” this means that the eyes watched over The Valley Of Ashes.  

Another quote that can show us a direct comparison of the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg to god, ‘”God knows what you’ve been doing, everything you’ve been doing. You may fool me, but you can’t fool God!” Standing behind him, Michaelis saw with a shock that he was looking at the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg, which had just emerged, pale and enormous, from the dissolving night.’ This is a quote that is placed near the end of the book, by doing this we then learn that throughout the book when “The Eyes of T. J. Eckleburg” come Fitzgerald is talking about go watching over the characters in this novel, which then becomes relatable to most people during the time when this book was published as a lot of people believed in god during this time and for people now it is not believed as such. I think Fitzgerald used this as a symbol as it also shows illusion because they aren’t really the eyes of god watching over the people it is just a billboard in a place where people believed in god and they believed in the hope of god.

Hope – The green light

The Green Light is classed as a symbol of hope for Daisy and Gatsby to be together all throughout this novel. We fist see Gatsby’s hope in the green light after Nick comes home from dinner at Daisy’s house and he finds Gatsby standing on his dock, ‘He stretched out his arms towards the dark water in a curious way… 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.’ The single green light for Gatsby may seem very close but Nick (our narrator) tells us it is “minute and far away” So for us as a reader we can see how small the hope for Daisy and Gatsby is but sadly for Gatsby he still keeps on hoping for something that was never going to happen. 

Further on into the novel we keep hearing more and more things about the green light and how, ‘Gatsby believed in the green light’ but as we get further into the story Gatsby sees the illusion in the green light and how “minute and far away” it really is. We see this here in this quote,  ‘Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy, it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one.’ That was all the green light was something that eluded Gatsby to think the hope in being with Daisy was so close to really happening when all along it never could have happened. 



Water is another symbol in this novel, it is a symbol of the time/the past, and it relates to Gatsby’s relationship with Daisy. the first time we see the water in this way is when Nick finds Gatsby staring out at the green light,  ‘He stretched out his arms towards the dark water in a curious way…’ When you first read it you can’t notice that the dark water has a meaning behind it but as you get further on into the book there are more references towards the water and it is associated with Gatsby and Daisy’s past and normally goes alongside Gatsby’s hope for a future with Daisy. So in the text above the dark water can symbolise the dark past for Gatsby. 

As we draw to the end of the book Gatsby is shot, and in this moment he is in the pool. Fitzgerald describes the scene in the following way, ‘There was a faint, barely perceptible movement of the water as the fresh flow from one end urged its way toward the drain at the other with little ripples that were hardly the shadows of waves’ This can show how Gatsby got to caught up in his past and ended up dying because of it. We can see this as he describes the waters movements and throughout the rest of the book we got a sense that water was a symbol of Gatsby’s past.

At the very end of of the book the last line says, ‘So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.’ This quote can elude us to Gatsby as it it similar to how he fought so had to gain back the past which is similar to when it says, beat on boats against the current. Although Gatsby  could never get his past back so he became borne back ceaselessly into the past. Water in this novel can be an illusion as it seems like it is nothing and it has no meaning when it does the real meaning of connects back to the main character of this novel and that is Gatsby.



  1. List the four main settings in the novel. Provide a description for each setting and explain what each setting represents.
  2.  Select two of the settings from above and discuss how these settings helped you to understand the idea of illusion in the novel. Use quotes to support your ideas.


Gatsby’s house

Gatsby’s house is a place that shows us everything that everyone wanted at this time, what it was called was the American Dream. People wanted to go to parties all the time, people wanted all of these fancy accessories and also to feel as though they knew/were friends with so many people. Gatsby’s house showed us this as it was a place that many people went to for these big parties and anyone who was anyone went, and there would always be a different feature every time.  From his pool, to his library everything is put on show as if to say ‘look at me.’ His house at night was lit up like a Christmas tree as he throws these extravagant parties, where everything and anything is placed perfectly.

The Valley Of Ashes

The Valley of ashes is also a place that shows us the failure of what was at the time called the American Dream. The valley of ashes is a place created up of nothing but dirt, by dirt it can symbolise the ash and how people who live there are dirt poor. That shows us the failure of the American Dream as it is a place with no wealth, people who are just working to live rather than the lives of people who live in East-Egg who have worked or haven’t even needed to work to have the money they have and in the eyes of the American Dream they have made it a success.     


Nick describes East-Egg as a place for the rich and what was called old-money (inherited money). ‘Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashion-able East Egg glittered along the water.’ Nick calls the houses along East-Egg ‘white palaces’ this symbolises a place of wealth  


West Egg was new money; new money was when people worked for the money they had, which somehow seemed to be “the less fashion-able of the two” as Nick says. This also shows us the success of the American Dream as it is a place of people who have money and uses that money to party, for example Gatsby’s house is on West-Egg and he has all of this new money with which he uses on his house to throw these big parties. Nicks hows is also at West-Egg yet nicks house is a lot smaller, it is a little cottage that he rents out, this is placed right next door to Gatsby’s mansion.


Gatsby’s house shows the idea of illusion very well as Gatsby creates all these things that are for Daisy and these things aren’t real they are all extravagant ideas of his that he uses to hide behind the illusion of hope in that he has created this place to be so perfect for Daisy in an act to win her back. Gatsby knows that Daisy wants a husband who is rich and has all this money, so he creates this house for her but that then becomes an illusion as Daisy wants to runaway with him and leave this place he has created for her. Thats the illusion as Gatsby thinks that he needs this and that so he can be with her but in actual fact Daisy doesn’t want that Daisy just wants him.

The Valley Of Ashes is a place of illusion as it shows the failure of the American dream, which people didn’t see during this era. It was something that people didn’t know happened or most likely didn’t care. It relates to illusion as throughout the story everything seems so complete if you focus on the American dream but this shows you that not everybody had success in the American Dream. They turned out poor and working for nothing and no one around them cared. I think Fitzgerald uses a lot of references like this to show people all of the sides of what it was really like in America.

How Fitzgerald paints Nick


In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

He didn’t say any more, but we’ve always been unusually communicative in a reserved way, and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that. In consequence, I’m inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores. The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality when it appears in a normal person, and so it came about that in college I was unjustly accused of being a politician, because I was privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men. Most of the confidences were unsought — frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon; for the intimate revelations of young men, or at least the terms in which they express them, are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions. Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope. I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth.And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that it has a limit. Conduct may be founded on the hard rock or the wet marshes, but after a certain point I don’t care what it’s founded on. 

Fitzgerald paints Nick to be a person with no personal judgements but he further yet says that there is a line that no judgements shall come into play but if that line is passed he may have his own judgements. He is given the quality of what Fitzgerald says is a “Politician” because he knows all the secrets of “wild, unknown men” but he has hidden them from the rest.

Fitzgerald uses emotive language as he writes about Nick to show the way he felt about himself as a person which can introduce himself to us and what his personality is. Fitzgerald also uses verbs to show how Nick acts upon thing.

other language features could be: Connotative language, metaphor, sentence structures, assonance, juxtaposition, verbs, simile.