Throughout the first chapter of The Great Gatsby Fitzgerald uses descriptions of settings, in particular houses, to portray the people that inhabit them. Through his descriptions of setting, Fitzgerald manages to give the idea an idea of the personalities of several of the key characters in novel. Later on in the chapter he also manages to convey relationships through his description of setting.
Early on in the novel Fitzgerald sets a benchmark for what the reader should expect from the majority of the characters they meet in the novel, and he does simply through the way in which he describes the East and West Egg. He describes the West Egg as being the ‘less fashionable’ of the two as well as being ‘bizarre’ and ‘superficial’ and this instantly plants the seed of presumption that most characters that the reader will meet that are from the West Egg will be superficial and shallow. The East Egg on the other hand, is described to be more ‘fashionable’ and the use of the words ‘glittered’ and ‘palaces’ gives the reader the feeling that the characters that are encountered from that side will also be shallow and superficial to an extent, but that possibly those characteristics will be overshadowed by them having a sense of superiority to the West Egg and its inhabitants.
In two sentences Fitzgerald manages to characterize two complete groups of people and he does this simply through the use of clever descriptive language. Asides from describing the area in order to characterize the people within it, Fitzgerald also uses setting through his descriptions of people’s homes.
The first time he does this is when he describes the home of Gatsby. This description of Gatsby’s dwelling manages to say so much about the character without actually referring to him at all. The first inkling of characterization through setting that we see is when the house is described to an ‘imitation’. This simple word works to convey a small seed of thought as to Gatsby’s insecurities. It...