The Purpose of this Blog

Your task on this blog is to write a brief summary of what we learned in class today. Include enough detail so that someone who was ill or missed the lesson can catch up with what they missed. Over the course of the term, these 'class scribe' posts will grow to be a guide book for the course, written by students for students.

With each post ask yourself the following questions:
1) Is this good enough for our guide book?
2) Will your post enable someone who wasn't here to catch up?
3) Would a graphic/video/link help to illustrate what we have learned?

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Exploring Symbols and Setting.

*consider the importance of place in the novel.
*analyse symbolism, motifs and settings.

We then summarised the importance of one setting within The Great Gatsby, in 23 words.

"The two eggs are of vital importance in the novel as they show the effects of the economic changes that have taken place"

We then looked at an extract from David Lodge, in which he explained the changes of the function of setting and the importance it has. After, we came up with our own ideas:

  • Novelists make the readers "see" the setting through vivid descriptions, this is fairly new in novels.

  • Setting can reflect characters and can emphasise their feelings, moods.

  • Settings have equal importance to characters. Are just as animated as characters.

  • Can also reflect themes, events, social context.

Symbol: an image that stands for something bigger (idea, belief, feeling)

Motif: recurring word, phrase, image, object or idea that runs through a text. Motifs are part of the structure of a novel and can be used to develop themes.

Themes: an ida/concept/ issue that runs throughout. We might see this as what the story is 'about'. Themes might be seen through motifs.

In groups, we then began to look at different objects, analysing what they could symbolise.

- industrialisation
- new wealth
- modernism
- transport
- feeling of empowerment
- 'fallic' representation
- direction/ lack of
- society becoming mechanical/ robotic
- overtaking romanticism
- mobility (social)

- envy
- money
- isolation
- jealousy
- nature
- success
- positivity

- Nick's observant behaviour
- Fitzgerald's detailed writing
- deception
- hidden truth
- omniscience
- judgement
- honesty

- wealth
- seclusion
- change in social mobility
- closure
- protection
- new life
- fragility

- death
- damage to land
- grey = modernity taking over
- lifelessness

What is symbolic realism?
Symbolic realism is when an object/idea/concept is taken from the real world and transformed into something else, something magical.

In partners, we then focused on a setting and the symbol behind that.

Me and Jack looked at 'The Valley of Ashes':

colour: grey, dull, monotonous.
symbolic realism: the Valley of Ashes can be seen as the lost world between the two eggs. The image created can also forebode the dark times of what is to come, the wall street crash, a time of unexpected bleak sadness.
repeated images: ash-grey men, grey cars, grey land.
mood and atmosphere (nick): Nick sees the valley of ashes as the full extent of modernism. This is the effect of industrialisation.
style - (romantic modernism): The description of the Valley of Ashes lacks romantic language, as modernism has taken over.
contrasts with other settings: The Valley of Ashes, compared to other settings lacks a sense of romanticism. It is very bland and opens Nick's eyes to an unfamilar sight.



  1. Gatsby's party:
    - Colour =
    *the colour blue is used more than once in this chapter which could represent sadness of some sort, possibly because of all of the people who died in the war who were not at the party? (can be suggested through the way people's conversations about how they know each other is because of the war)

    * Dark gold is also mentioned which could be a symbol of wealth, and the fact that the people living within both eggs are of a high class.

    - Mood and atmosphere:
    * The mood of the party is quite relaxed, upbeat, sociable and happy which reflects the carefree jazz age which the novel is set in.


  2. Green light
    the green light is coming from toms dock which could show envy over something that Gastby may not have such as a lover. To back this since its a single green light we see it can mean that it might show isolation reflecting on Gatsby.


  3. the setting of east egg contrasts with the other settings as it shows a sense of strangeness to nick, in other settings nick finds something familiar to speak of, such as when in the city of ash he recognises Dr Eckleburgs eyes, which may only be slight but gives nick some control over his actions there, when at Gatsby's party Nick is once again faced with this strangeness but is guided through by Jordan Baker. during Nick's first visit to east egg, he gives a lot of imagery related to gold to represent the wealth of the east egg


  4. gatsby party
    The discription in terms of the style in the party is beautifully describe and brings into the the luxury and classy scence of the party. This is done in the way that Fitzgerald romantically describes the party however contrst this less strongly of the modernism he normally applies.