Romantic love is celebrated as a source of strength in a world with some underlying sadness

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Place and settings epitomize the various aspects of the American society that Fitz depicts. East Egg = old aristocracy; West Egg = newly rich; valley of ashes = moral and social decay of America; New York City = uninhibited amoral quest for money and pleasure

  • Weather

The weather in the novel unfailingly matches the emotional and narrative tone of the story. Gatsby’s climatic confrontation with Tome occurs on the hottest day of the summer, under the scorching sun.

  • The Green Light

The green light represented Gatsby’s hopes and dreams for the future. The green light also symbolizes that more generalized ideal

  • The Valley of Ashes

It represents the moral and social decay that results from the uninhibited pursuit of wealth and the rich indulge themselves with regard for nothing but their own pleasure.

  • The Eyes of Dr Echleburg

They may represent God staring down upon and judging American society as a moral wasteland. Represents the moral blindness of all major characters

    • Gatsby blind to Daisy’ emptiness

    • Tom blind to his own hypocrisy

    • Myrtle blind in mistaking Jordan for Daisy/ tom for her salvation

    • Wilson is mistaking Eckleburg for god/ in killing the wrong man

The eyes also come to represent the essential meaninglessness of the world and the arbitrariness of the mental process by which people invest objects with meaning.


  • Nick: the novel is told entirely through Nick’s eyes; his thought and perceptions shape and color the story. He is complex: he claims to be honest but is dishonest in his dealings with the girls he writes to in the west. He respected Gatsby; “who represented everything for which I have unaffected scorn.” Nick represents the quiet, reflective Midwesterner adrift in the lurid East. He evidences a strongly misused reaction to life in the East, one that creates a powerful internal conflict that he does not resolve until the end of the book. This inner conflict is symbolized throughout the book by Nick’s romantic affair with Jordan Baker. After witnessing the unraveling of Gatsby’s dream and presiding over the appalling spectacle of his funeral, Nick realizes that the fast life of revelry in the East is a cover for the terrifying moral emotiveness that the valley symbolizes. Having gained the maturity that this insight demonstrates, he returns to Minnesota in search of a quieter life structured by stronger and more traditional moral values. Nick finds himself “within and without” as he says, “simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”

Complex – full of contradictions; observer; passive; spectator; false belief in his detachment; judgmental despite claiming the opposite; surprising respect for Gatsby; inability to commit himself in love; ambivalent about love and idealism; romantic; cynical

  • Gatsby: Nick views Gatsby as a deeply flawed man, dishonest and vulgar, whose extraordinary optimism and power to transform his dreams into reality make him “great” nonetheless. Fitzgerald initially presents Gatsby as the aloof, enigmatic host of the unbelievably opulent parties thrown every week at his mansion. Fizt propels the novels forwards through the early chapters by shrouding Gatsby’s background and the source of his wealth in mystery. The reader’s first distant impressions of Gatsby therefore contrast the lovesick, naïve young man who emerges during the later part of the novel. This technique of delayed character revelation to emphasize the theatrical quality of Gatsby’s approach to life. Gatsby has literally created his own character, even changing his name from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby to represent his reinvention of himself. Gatsby invests Daisy with an idealistic perception that she cannot possibly attain in reality, and pursues her with a passionate zeal that blinds him to her limitations. Gatsby is contrasted most consistently with Nick. One the one hand, Nick “disapproves of him from beginning to end” and yet he thinks of Gatsby “worth the whole damn bunch put together.”

Central focus; mysterious – created through gossip; enigmatic; a victim/outsider; places exorbitant value on wealth; impoverished background; idealistic; out of touch with reality; had no personal growth; admirable – embodies the dreamer spirit

  • Daisy: to Gatsby, Daisy represents the paragon of perfection – she has the aura of charm, wealth, sophistication, grace and aristocracy that he longed for as a child and what first attracted him to her. In reality, Daisy falls short of this idealism. She is fickle, shallow, bored and sardonic. Se is capable of affection, but not of sustained loyalty or care. Se is indifferent even to her own infant daughter, never discussing her and treating her as an afterthought.

Sensual; effusive; emotional; embodies the insubstantial nature of the American Dream – the emptiness and corruption of wealth; materialistic irresponsible; weak; a corrupted maiden repelled by the simplicity and vulgarity of Gatsby’s life; personifies spiritless traits of inertia and languor; embodies the insubstantial natural of the American Dream

  • Tom: is a physically powerful man, used to getting his own way and more than a match for an ‘upstart’ like Gatsby. Aggression is tom’s key characteristic. He is self-indulgent and disloyal in his marriage; he has no moral qualms about his own extramarital affair, but is outraged by Daisy’s infidelity.

Represents wealth made brutal by selfishness and arrogance

  • Jordan: a competitive golfer, Jordan represents owned of the “new women” of the 1920’s boyish and self centered, she is beautiful but also dishonest, cheating in her first golf tournament. Jordan can be ruthless in getting what she wants and in an increasingly mechanized and soulless world her name

Represents cowardice and dishonesty – the betrayal of the standards of old wealth.

Patterning and Parallels

  • The Love Affair: Daisy/Gatsby related three different times, from different angles. The first part of the novel inflates the myth of Gatsby to support the idea of “the colossal vitality of his vision.” The second part deflates the myth and allows the truth to emerge.

  • The Settings: first three chapters three different settings: Buchanan’s; Myrtle apartment; Gatsby mansion

  • Green Light: Gatsby’s gesture is parallel by Daisy after she left on her wedding trip

  • Kiss: the celebrities’ kiss parodies Gatsby’s first kiss with Daisy, developed further by Nick and Jordan’s kiss later in the scene.



Time is represented as destructive of Gatsby’s love as in this new world where everything is fast paced, everything is temporary which is emphasized through the motif of the clock throughout the novel. Allusions to the past, during which Gatsby and Daisy’s love flourished, “they were so engrossed in each other that they didn’t see me until I was 5 feet away.” However 5 years on, Gatsby’s romanticised and idealised vision of love is not instilled in reality. His disillusionment has consummated over time at which point, the anti-climax of their meeting is almost devastating, “Daisy tumbled short of his dreams – not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion….He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time.” Emotional climaxes within the story are accompanied by weather patterns and changes, as upon their first meeting it is raining and melancholic to reinforce the anti climax of their reunion. Daisy represents these sentiments through her inability to understand the concept of eternity, “I love you now – isn’t that enough?” Her temporary feelings which ultimately doom Gatsby is highlighted in the extent of her changeability as she manages to disperse of her negative feelings towards her marriage to Tom the next day, the letter, flaking into the bath is evocative of the temporary and provisional nature of her feelings.


The sociology of wealth is explored between the East and West Egg, as each represents a loss of values between two different classes. The East is appalled by the vulgar and garish lifestyle of those of the West Egg. Daisy represents this perspective, “appalled by its raw vigour that chafed under the old euphemisms….and the too obtrusive fate that herded its inhabitants along a short-cut from nothing to nothing.” The animal imagery suggests they are primitive and simple beings, that travel from nothing to nothing, ironic as she too is travelling from nothing to nothing, “She saw something awful in the very simplicity she failed to understand.’

American Dream

The characters believe the pursuit of the American dream is nothing else than material success exemplified during Jay Gatsby’s youth as a glamorous yacht that “represented all the beauty and glamour in the world” (Page 101). It is the narrator, Nick, who discovers that love without caring is delirious and destructive. Individuality is disappearing as everything has become inescapably enmeshed with a world driven by ruthless monied individuals for the pursuit of wealth, who drive around in cars carelessly, aimlessly and fatally “towards death through the cooling twilight.” (Page 137)


During a more defined and morally harder world, Daisy understands that life has many things more permanent than love. “’She’s got an indiscreet voice,’ I remarked. ‘It’s full of – ‘ I hesitated. ‘Her voice is full of money,’ he said suddenly” (Page 115). Metaphorically, stating Daisy’s voice is “full of money” it is evident even her subdued voice exudes her lust for money and riches and because of this, at no point in the novel does Daisy ever appeal to the transcending authority of love but Gatsby does not recognise this and his pursuit of failure is destructive and fatal. Additionally, the destructive pursuit of idealised love is evident through the common imagery of heat. Heat is used to amplify a single detail of inescapability into an element of function that parallels the acceleration into conflict. Fitzgerald begins with minute imagery of heat as illustrated with Jordan’s “golden shoulder” (Page 80) and intensifies as “The relentless beating heat was beginning to confuse me” (Page 124). Heat and temperature functions to strain the atmosphere and to wear away the veneer of the characters, they wear so well, revealing them as they struggle under “hot whips of panic” (Page 125) exposing the destruction of Gatsby and his love.


Poem XX11-dark yellow

  • Not to get carried away with love

  • Keep love realistic

  • Not ideal

Word ‘erect’


Her relationship with him is strong.

She alludes to john domme’s poem (a valediction forbidding mourning….)

Her poem is different to his as his poetry represents idealistic love and she is emphasizing realistic love.

( she wants her relationship to be realistic not idealistic)

‘Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nighters’



Heightens erotic desire

Physical intimacy

‘Break into fire’


‘Wings break’

Classical illusion to icarus- story of the boy who’s wings broke for not listening to his father- emphasizes her past experiences

‘Angels press down on us: bring them down to earth’

The angels want them to be realistic- bring them down to earth- again- different to other poets who talk about idealistic glorious love

‘Drop some golden orb of perfect song into our deep, dear silence’

Symbolism- gold

Silver motif:

She doesn’t need gold love- she is happy with silver

Religious metaphor- comparing heaven- she wants a realistic love

Into our deep dear silence

Inductive pronoun

Motif of silent

Subverts traditional ideologies of woman however still adheres to it.


How are Victorian context and values made evident in Ebb’s poetry?

Elizabeth Barret Browning’s sonnets from the Portuguese (1846) I, allows the responder to obtain a deeper knowledge regarding Browning’s ultimate desire to love and be loved, highlighting her insecurities regarding the gender roles in the Victorian context and the patriarchal values of the time. This is immediately established through the Petrachan sonnet structure. In the octave, Browning adheres to the traditional (abba) structure, when reflecting upon her past, however changes to cdcd, in the sestet emphasizing her challenge of patriarchal control. This change in poetical structure manifests the transformation of gender roles and hence challenges the strict convention of women; an atypical scenario for our Victorian context. The distortion of iambic pentameter reflects the distorted and inharmonic patterns of Browning’s life, which has affected this unexpected love. Via the use of past tense, Browning alludes to the Ancient Greek poet “Theocritus”. This historical referencing allows Browning to draw a comparison with Theocritus’ wise words to adjectives such as ‘sweet’ and ‘dear’. Such a comparison is further emphasized through the assonance and elongated sentences of sweet years, the dear and wished for years. These devices manifest Browning’s desire to experience such feelings, however was unable to, due to past experiences. The brevity of ‘once’ suggests that love for her is a myth, further showing how her past has affected her present and is now wary and uncertain about the prospects of love with Robert. Browning’s insecurities reflect the values of the Victorian era, where difficulties had escalated for woman because of the common strive to be the ‘ideal woman’ during the reign of the British monarch Queen Victoria. Love is evident through the mythological allusion to Homars Illiad, where Athena pulls Achilles by the hair, highlighting her desire for love. This is evident, through ‘drew me backward by the hair’, further suggesting the divine intervention of the gods. The allusion suggests that there is something heroic and brave about her relationship with browning however does highlight his control. Furthermore, it removes Browning psychologically and physically from her father's domination, and to her husbands. The uncertainty of this new found love is emphasized through the ‘silver answer rang’. Silver is a prime symbol for awareness and strength, and is an attribute of feminine energy where Rosicrucian alchemists attributed silver to the Greek goddesses Artemis. This is symbolic as it highlights Browning’s and Robert’s strong connection, however also her uncertainty, being only silver and not yet gold, as gold is a symbol of immutability and perfection.

Texts in time’ involves portrayals, in varying contexts, of the experience of idealised love, hope and mortality.

Analyse TWO differences between Browning’s and Fitzgerald’s portrayals, making two detailed reference to your prescribed texts.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and the selected love sonnets; I, XIII, XIV, XXI, XXII, XXVIII, XXXII, XLIII by Elizabeth Barrett Browning explore texts in time which involve portrayals in varying contexts through the experience of idealised love, hope and mortality. The portrayals of Barrett Browning and Fitzgerald explore the differences of idealised love and time throughout both texts with the use of symbolism, imagery, irony and characterisation to emphasise these differences. The Great Gatsby set during the Jazz age is an exemplification of the failure and tragedy of the American Dream as well as the fragmented world where love struggles to survive. This contrasted to Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s love sonnets set in the wake of the Romantics, making the sonnets in many ways typically Victorian with their tone of gloom and sorrow as well as their feeling of the force and intensity of their passion as the love grows and develops.
Time within The Great Gatsby exposes how Gatsby is trying to re-incarnate the past by showing to Daisy that he has created an affluent life for himself, thus hoping she will be with him in the future. This illusion creates a sense of irony in the story because Gatsby who has the money to possess and attract anything or anyone, cannot have or buy the thing he most wants and desires; his past love for Daisy. Gatsby’s nostalgia for his old self and the love that is symbolised is like Fitzgerald’s portrait of America’s nostalgia for its lost values. Like Gatsby, America seems to have everything in the midst of the blooming 20’s, but has lost something along the process. Even in the midst of Gatsby’s corrupt world there lies a hope in his love for Daisy. This hope is symbolised by the green light situated at the end of the wharf in front of Daisy’s house at East Egg. This light reminds Gatsby that he is close to having his dream come true, the dream he so desperately longs for “...he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way...I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward – and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away”, even though he doesn’t have Daisy yet, this green light provides reassurance and hope that he is close to having her in the future. This continuous hope of the past being re-incarnated for Gatsby started to seem like it was finally underway with the melancholic tone that the novel resurfaces during Gatsby and Daisy’s reunion at Nick’s house. We are shown through Gatsby’s melancholic longing his expression painted on his face “as pale as death” which symbolises not only the sense of nervousness but also the relief of finally reaching the longed for moment of being with Daisy.

The tragedy of Gatsby is that he is being illusional because Daisy who was “the first nice girl he had ever met” changed into a “materialistic, vacuous individual who cannot see past herself”. This change in characterisation triggers the reality that Gatsby’s dream will never come true no matter how much he hopes it will. It is shown through the novel the birth of Gatsby’s dream which is never fulfilled and instead he dies for it with the instant bullet which ends it all.

Whilst a bullet ends a dream in The Great Gatsby, in the sonnet sequence Elizabeth focuses on the internal, everlasting love between herself and her lover which goes beyond the temporal and beyond death.

The dynamic nature of her context through her allusions tells us about her world. The nature and power of her love allows her to transcend her society; she can leave the patriarchal oppression of her past behind as well as escape the curtailment of her world because the love is complete.

Elizabeth has had a depressing past life and her lover is seen as her rescuer. When they fell in love a sense of restoration is felt by the love they share which brings forth religious beliefs and acts. Elizabeth wants to eliminate the why and the how and leave the love they share as something that simply is. “But love me for love’s sake, that evermore Thou may’st love on, through love’s eternity”, symbolises in sonnet XIV, the hope that the love they have is going to be everlasting “through love’s eternity” – going beyond mortality juxtaposed to The Great Gatsby where the dream of being loved again ends all to suddenly with a bullet. We can see from this sonnet Elizabeth already knows that the love they share is so strong that it will beat all odds and last forever.

Throughout all of Elizabeth’s sonnets we come to realisation that the love she is experiencing has the power of an earthbound love which is everlasting, this is specifically shown in sonnet XXII “face to face, silent drawing nigh and nigher, until the lengthening wings break into fire, At either curved point...what bitter wrong, can the earth do to us, that we should not be there contented”, which symbolises that their love is so strong that even after death they will meet again in heaven. This shows that through time their love will only grow and develop and she is hoping that even after death there love will become stronger than ever. Within this sonnet she also uses imagery when imagining their relationship after morality because she feels that it will continue. Elizabeth’s final sonnet, XLII, expresses her final declaration of the everlasting, unconditional love she is experiencing “...I shall but love thee better after my death”. Even after death she is going to love her lover more profoundly, consequently from this it is shown that through time the love her and her lover share will go beyond the temporal and against all odds.

In contrast with The Great Gatsby where Gatsby’s dream to re-incarnate the past so that he can be with the one he loves is essentially just an illusion which ends with a bullet, the sonnets by Elizabeth Barrett Browning articulates the unconditional transcendent nature of love which is everlasting and goes beyond mortality; where the love between Elizabeth and her lover will continue to grow.
Idealised love in The Great Gatsby is oppressive and destructive. Through the narration of Nick Carraway we are exposed to a post WWI new world which is faithless, loveless and careless, thus making idealised love difficult to survive. Gatsby’s infatuation of Daisy as the ultimate commodity is seen as his goal from which he tries to draw closer to. The type of love that is shown from Gatsby towards Daisy is the obsessive but pure love which becomes something too special to survive in a world that lacks moral purpose. Gatsby bases his love on the relationship he had with Daisy years before. It was Gatsby who was “breathless” and saw her gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor”. This imagery that Gatsby uses to describe Daisy shows how deeply in love he was with her even though he knew that he wasn’t rich and that it was obvious that she came from an affluent background.

In order to be closer to Daisy, Gatsby buys a mansion across Daisy symbolising the need for him to be close to her as well as the parties he arranges at his house which are illuminated with lights. These lights attract the “moths” who are Gatsby’s party guests but are created initially to attract Daisy to his house, thus hopefully immerging her closer to him so that their love can grow and Gatsby’s dream become fulfilled. However the barriers separating them from being together can also be symbolised by the love and the classification of the two villages.

While Daisy lives in the East which was associated with the extravagance living which offered opportunities, Gatsby lived in the West which stood for traditional values such as solidity. These barriers added to the factors of why Gatsby could only “dream” of having Daisy because life interfered with their love.

This pure love that once blossomed can’t be recaptured again in the present and though Gatsby pursues his grail the moment is gone. Gatsby’s hope of being with Daisy the one who he truly loves and infatuates over dies with him.

In The Great Gatsby , idealised love becomes an essence of destruction and delusion, this is partly due to it attempting to survive in the fragmented post war America juxtaposed with the sonnets by Elizabeth Barrett Browning where idealised love flourishes through its power to be transcendent and restorative.
Idealised love is represented in a deep meaningful way in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnets.

Through the persona of Elizabeth it is shown how love is powerful, it transformed her life, giving her new hope. The “silver ring” symbolises that things are getting better; this is shown by the sense of restoration that their love has brought to her life.

The love shown between Elizabeth and her lover is not materialistic; it is idealistic love. Elizabeth states in sonnet XIV that she wants her lover to love her for the sake of love,” If thou must love me, let it be for nought Except for love’s sake only”. Juxtaposition to The Great Gatsby where Gatsby had to modify his life in order to try and get Daisy to love him again, Elizabeth spiritually believes their love is pure and of transcendence; she doesn’t want anything other than their pure love.

Through this we see that the characteristics of the Victorian era in terms of qualities is something Elizabeth disregards. She believes that idealised love should be on the basis of feelings instead of traits as they can change.

The last sonnet shows that their love must be enjoyed within all the dimensions of physical passion and the strength of that physical passion adds a spiritual dimension. Earthly love is aligned with spiritual fulfilment “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...” explores all the dimensions of their love due to it being measured by the breadth, width and depth – they must be vast.

If love is sublime in the sonnet sequence, we can conclude that it is tawdry in The Great Gatsby.

In conclusion time and idealised love is shown to be analysed differently between Browning’s and Fitzgerald’s portrayals. Time shows how Gatsby tries to re-incarnate the past by showing to Daisy that he has changed himself so that hopefully their “love” can blossom once again but this illusion ends when Gatsby dies while in the sonnets the love that is shared between Elizabeth and her lover is restorative and transcendent and goes beyond death where it will continue to grow.

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