Power within The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
Daisy: "Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth-but there was an excitement in her voice that men who cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion , a whispered "Listen," a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour." (13, 14)
Tom: "Her husband, among various physical accomplishments, had been one of the most powerful ends that had ever played football at New Haven-a national figure in a way, one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterwards savours of anticlimax." (10)
"The interior was unprosperous and bare; the only car visible was the dust-covered wreck of a Ford which crouched in a dim corner. It had occurred to me that this shadow of a garage must be a blind and that sumptuous and romantic apartments were concealed overhead when the proprietor himself appeared in the door of the office, wiping his hands on a piece of waste. He was blonde, spiritless, anemic and faintly handsome." (29)
"I lived at West Egg, the-well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to expose the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them." (9)
Valley of Ashes
"About halfway between West Egg and New York the motor-road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter of a mile or so as to shrink away from a certain area of land. This is the valley of ashes- a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens, where ashes take the form of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air." (27)
Tom represents physical power. He is both strong and has wealth.
Daisy is manipulative. She is beautiful and uses her beauty to get things that she wants, and had really only gone after Tom for his wealth.
The difference between West and East Egg, though both places of wealth, shows that there is a certain superiority to those who didn't have to work to get their money.
The Wilsons represent poverty i.e. lack of power. George Wilson owns an old run down shop near the Valley of Ashes, an already poor area. He is displayed as the weakest, as well as poorest, character in the book. His wife's affair is based on that Tom has money and she wants his wealth.
"I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby's house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited--they went there. They got into automobiles which bore them out to Long Island and somehow they ended up at Gatsby's door. Once there they were introduced by someone who knew Gatsby and after that they conducted themselves according to the rules of behavior associated with amusement parks. Sometimes they came and went without having met Gatsby at all." (45)
Gatsby is rich not in the way Tom is, but rather that he had to work to get his money.
"'Meyer Wolfshiem? No, he's a gambler.' Gatsby hesitated , then added coolly: 'He's the man who fixed the World's Series back in 1919.'
'Fixed the World's Series?' I repeated.
The idea staggered me. I remembered of course that the World's Series had been fixed in 1919 but if I had thought of it at all I would have thought of it as a thing that merely happened, the end of some inevitable chain. It never once occurred to me that one man could start to play with the faith of fifty million people--with the single-mindedness of a burglar blowing the safe.
'How did he manage to do that?' I asked after a minute.
'He just saw the opportunity.'
'Why isn't he in jail?'
'They can't get him, old sport. He's a smart man.'" (78)
"A tray of cocktails floated at us through the twilight and we sat down at a table wit the two girls in yellow and three men, each one introduced us to Mr. Mumble.
"Do you come to these parties often?" inquired Jordan of the girl beside her.
"The last one was the one I met you at," answered the girl in an alert, confident voice. She turned to her companion: "Wasn't it for you, Lucille?"
It was for Lucille too.
"I like to come," Lucille said. "I never care what I do, so long as I have good time. When I was here last I tore my gown on a chair, and he asked me my name and address--inside of a week I got a package from Croirier's with a new evening gown in it."" (47)
Gatsby's parties are seen as an event of power and social status. The more you've been to, the more people you know, the more opportunities there is to know people that can help you rise to power.
Wolfshiem is smart, smart enough to fix the world series without getting caught. It is also revealed later in the book that Wolfshiem is the one who brought Gatsby to power through business.
"He had passed visibly through two states and was entering upon a third. After his embarrassment and his unreasoning joy he was consumed with a wonder at her presence. He had been full of the idea so long, dreamed it right through to the end, waited with his teeth set, so to speak, at an inconceivable pitch of intensity. Now, in the reaction, he was running down like an overrun clock."
Daisy has power over Gatsby. Gatsby is deeply in love with Daisy and wants to impress her. Most of this chapter is showing just how deeply infatuated with Daisy Gatsby is.
"Cody was fifty years old then, a product of the Nevada silver fields, of the Yukon, of every rush for metal since Seventy-five. The transaction in Montana copper that made him a millionaire found him physically robust but in the verge of softmindedness, and suspecting this an infinite amount of women tried to separate him from his money. The nine too savory ramifications by which Ella Kaye, the newspaper women, played Madame de Maintenon to his weakness and sent him to the sea in a yacht, were common knowledge to the turgid journalism of 1902. He had been coasting along all too hospitable shores for five years when he turned up as James Gatz's destiny in Little Girls Bay." (105,106)
Cody is powerful due to his money, however, because he is "softminded" he is easily taken advantage of.
The ocean is a symbol of power due to how large and dangerous it is. The ocean is also where "Jay Gatsby" was first brought into fruition.
Rather than having power in this chapter, Tom is losing power. His wife contemplated leaving him and the girl he was having an affair with is no longer going to see him. There is also the overbearing heat of summer that is making him aggravated, and lashing out, thus he is losing control of his emotions as well.
The wedding going on in the street below is a juxtaposition of what is happening in the apartment. A marriage is being is being created while another is falling apart.
Doctor TJ Eckleberg
When Wilson goes into a sort of downward spiral after he started believing that his wife was having an affair (which she was), he began to see the advertisement of Eckleberg as God, which is an all powerful being in itself.
""I spoke to her," he muttered, after a long silence. "I told her her she might fool me but she couldn't fool God. I took her up to the window--" With an effort he got up and walked to the rear window and leaned with his face pressed against it, "and I said '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 TJ Eckleberg which had just emerged pale and enormous from the dissolving night.
"God sees everything," repeated Wilson." (167)
Death is a constant. There is no escape from it and as such it is powerful. Gatsby could've lived on to be great but he got hit with a stroke of bad luck that inevitably ended in his death.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1995.