1.8 Significant connections-Jack Miller

Illusion is a tool that can be used by those who believe that their real self isn’t good enough, and they realize that they cannot change that, or, it can be forced upon someone, hiding who they truly are and giving people who are too lazy to look past the surface, but quick to judge anyway the complete wrong impression. In the 1920’s in America, society was extremely judgmental and did not care so much about who you are, but where you came from. This reality leads many people who came from less fortunate backgrounds to essentially recreate themselves, change the image that the world saw before them. Throughout his writing, F.Scott. Fitzgerald has used this idea that people use illusion to create a better and entirely different image of themselves, and how this recreation, no matter how true it is stuck to, often comes to a violent or unfortunate end. This idea of a character using illusion to present a what they consider a more favorable version of themselves is often used as a somewhat central idea, often the main characters of the story having something about themselves they are going to lengths to hide from the judgmental, prying eyes of  the 1920’s society, examples of this being stories such as “The Great Gatsby”, “Winter Dreams”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, or “Diamond as Big as the Ritz”.

Dexter Green wants to play golf with those he once caddied for, and he wants to make himself what he considers “good enough” for the beautiful Judy Jones, a girl he fell in love with at the age of fourteen. Dexter leaves his small hometown in search of higher education. He gets rich and returns to Black Bear years later. Dexter has created an illusion of himself, a version that he considers as superior in every way, one that he believes will be viewed as more highly by society, one that will be respected more, not who he used to be, no, he keeps that hidden behind an obscuring layer of time, hidden away from everyone forever. Here Fitzgerald presents to the reader the fact that people will hide their pasts in an attempt to create a more convincing image of themselves, an image more favorable to the extremely judgmental and class-based society of the 1920’s in America. Throughout the story, “Dexter was unconsciously dictated to by his winter dreams.” showing that the illusion that he created, this dream that he had, drove him to what he did, to what he became, he dreamed of being better than everyone else, but he doesn’t realize that he can’t have Judy, because no matter who he was, there would still be ten other people who circulated around her.

Even the super-rich Jay Gatsby didn’t have everything. He had a huge mansion, threw extravagant parties with hundreds of guests, and all the pleasantries of being the richest of the rich, he still didn’t have one thing. This one thing he didn’t have was the one thing he couldn’t really buy with money, but it was the reason he worked so hard to get. He completely changed who he was for this thing. When Jay Gatsby met Daisy, he was a poor soldier, and she was a wealthy daughter of a politician, but he loved her and wanted more than anything to be with her, “So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent”, he created the elaborate illusion that he was someone else someone that at his young age he admired, who thought would be sure to be good enough for Daisy, just as Dexter Green for Judy Jones,  “…and to this conception he was faithful to the end.”. Across these books, the author has used the idea that people will go to great lengths to re-create themselves so they can have a chance with the “golden girl” even in the case of Gatsby if that means dying for it, though often the golden girl is careless and shallow, and not worth the transcendent efforts that characters such as Gatsby and Dexter have both put their lives into.

Living a backward life, the protagonist of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, Benjamin Button has not created an illusion to hide his true self, but instead his outward appearance is physically different from what is inside, he is not the person that he physically appears to be, just as the super-rich Jay Gatsby is just a poor farm boy, instead of what any onlooker would simply deduct. Benjamin on the outside (apart from the middle of his life self) is always different from what he appears, not in manor and clothing such as Gatsby, but in physical age. He is always someone different to what everyone sees him as, he goes through life being treated differently to everyone else his whole life, just as Gatsby is respected and treated as more or less an elite class citizen instead of the poor farm boy he actually is, just as Benjamin is treated as he looks, not as his actual age, such as the time he was sitting underneath the table with daisy late at night, and her grandmother catches them, “You are not to be playing together! Play with people your  own age…!” Benjamin is told off for playing with Daisy as if it is creepy, even though they are about the same age, but just because Benjamin looks different, just because of the illusion that he cannot escape, an illusion of age, he is treated differently because of his appearance, just as Gatsby is treated differently because of his physical appearance. F. Scott. Fitzgerald uses these protagonists to illustrate to the audience that the 1920’s society was an extremely judgmental place, people quick to judge someone based on their outward appearance.

Brought up in  a huge, hidden, shimmering palace in the Montana rockies, Percy Washington attends St Midas school, a prestigious school on the East coast. There he meets John, and so he invites him to his house. At St Midas, no one really knows where Percy came from, but on the train to his house, he reveals who he really is to John. He tells John that his father is the richest man in the world, and that his house is built on a diamond mountain. All his life, Percy has had to live his life in secret, because if the existence of the diamond would crash their value world-wide, and his father would lose his fortune. The house is guarded by AA guns, and the Washington family is willing to kill and kidnap to keep it a secret. Like Benjamin, Percy has been essentially trapped inside an inescapable illusion, keeping to himself, not being able to live a normal life and have proper friends like a normal person, “he kept aloof from the other boys”, he, like Benjamin is being forced to live his life in a way that means having his proper childhood changed because of a situation that was entirely not up to him, he spends his life trapped behind an impenetrable barrier of an illusion that is used by his father to hide and protect his fortune from the world.

In F.Scott.Fitzgerald’s writing, he uses the idea of his main characters’ lives being changed dramatically by illusions, that they have either created for themselves, or have had forced upon them. Either way, society has treated them differently because of their outward appearance, and these illusions, these lies they have been portraying across to society for most of their lives often end in explosive failure, they often end badly for the character, and yet, for these people, they present an impossible challenge, because without these illusions, these lies, they cannot be happy, or for those who have no choice but to live a life behind a wall of deceit find it hard to be happy. Across his writing, F.Scott.Fitzgerald presents illusion as a concept that can change people’s lives, but will ultimately collapse in on itself, and the person it involves.

Definitions of some film stuff

Mise en Scene- The arrangement of all elements of a scene e.g props, scenery etc. The visual arrangement of everything in the frame

Lighting- The way a shot or scene is lit- usually used to communicate an idea to the audience 

Symbolism- When an object or entity in a film is used to represent an idea

Camera shots- Different camera shots are used to communicate different ideas or moods about the subject matter from different perspectives

Sound-Everything the viewer hears in a movie- dialogue, music sound effects. Diagenic- not added Non-Diagenic-added in

Dialogue- A conversation between two or more characters. If there’s only one person its a monologue. An essential part of most movies

Voice over/narration-Voice overs can be used to give the viewer an idea of whats going on in a scene that would otherwise not make sense, can also be used to let the viewer know what the narrator is thinking

Music-Music can be used to add a dramatic effect or music can also be used to set the mood

Montage- Can be used to cover the progression of something that happens gradually over a shorter amount of time, to keep the pace from slowing down

Flashbacks-Flashbacks are used to show the characters past, which can help the viewer understand why they are like they are at the present point for example why there is conflicts between certain characters.

The winter dreams/gatsby similartities

Gatsby The winter dreams
Gatsby started from nothing, and learnt how to be rich and he became rich. Gatsby started out extremely poor, so he left at age 17 to make something of himself. He sailed around with a guy and then joined the army and fell in love with daisy. He went to war and after that he met another guy who taught him how to be rich, and so he became extremely rich with drug stores and then he moved to New York. Dexter came from nothing and made himself wealthy. Dexter started out as a caddy at a golf club earning 30 dollars a month. He then goes and becomes rich, with a laundry company, he then comes back and falls in love with judy. But she keeps leading like 10 guys on so
Gatsby fell in love with a popular girl that he couldn’t really have. Dexter fell in love with a popular girl that he couldn’t be with because of the kind of person she is- never wanting to settle down.

Valley of ashes practice essay

In the book, “The Great Gatsby”, written by F.Scott Fitzgerald, the Valley of the Ashes helps the reader better understand the idea of the failure of the American dream through the valley of the ashes. The valley of ashes is the area of New York where the city’s ashes is dumped. A glum place, described by Nick as “a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens”. When Nick describes the area to have “ridges and hills”, it paints a picture that the there is a lot of ashes, a lot of people being let down by the dream, and the amount is forever growing, as shown by “fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat”, and the line “with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air” shows that people are run down, tired, and fairly hopeless, only being pushed on by this faint hope, a hope, perhaps, only based on a distant dream obscured and distorted by the constant “impenetrable cloud” that they themselves create, maybe because the dream is the only thing they have that keeps them going. The American is that everybody should have equal opportunity, as long as they work hard for it. However, the valley of Ashes shows that this is not happening, that this is not true. This is shown by the fact that the people living there are working hard everyday, and they are still there, the dream failing more and more people day by day, and then there are people like Tom and Daisy, who have never worked a day in their lives and are extremely wealthy.


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Chris Waugh