GVV - The Great Gatsby, Wuthering Heights and The Plough and the Stars for Leaving Cert English #625Lab

"Each text we read presents us with an outlook on life that may be bright or dark, or a combination of both".

Discuss, with reference to the three texts you have studied.

#625Lab. This is a very good examination of general vision and viewpoint. Instead of directly comparing the GVVs, the author of the essay chose to examine them under the same headings (setting, characters and ending). I would err more on the side of direct comparison where possible. You may also like: Complete Guide to Leaving Cert English (€). 

Darkness in a text is a necessity, regardless of how the reader may feel about it. The darkness and its climax in a story can create anticipation, excitement, anger and fear and a whole host of other emotions in a reader. A story of everything being bright and playing out perfectly never made for an interesting novel. The correct combination of darkness and brightness captures a readers a imagination, it is in essential element to any great story. The three texts I have studied are Sean O'Casey's ''The Plough And The Stars'', Emily Brontes ''Wuthering Heights'' and F. Scott Fitzgerald's ''The Great Gatsby'.'

Setting in a text is a fundamental element in determining whether a novel is bright or dark. It gives the reader a clairvoyant sense of how the novel will play out and how it is supposed to be interpreted. Sean O'Casey's ''The Plough and The Stars'' is set in the working class tenements of Dublin, 1916. A time were Protestant Unionists and Catholic Nationalists were at war. The rebellion against the British colonisers was manifesting into a destructive regime causing death, destruction and poverty. Nora Clitheroe, the spirited matriarch, hopelessly attempts to keep her family unit intact, however it is slowly eroded by the unforgiving war. (Would you call her a matriarch? Big Maggie was a matriarch. Nora - not so much.) The social unrest casts a sense of foreboding over the text. Melancholy saturates the atmosphere, destitution is omnipresent in the streets of Dublin and Ireland is at its nadir. (🔥)

Similarly, Emily Bronte's ''Wuthering Heights'' is set in disarray. The ancient gothic style of the Wuthering Heights house and its isolation from the Gimmerton, Yorkshire community sets an eery atmosphere in the text. The character of Heathcliff, similar to Nora, is used to create a dark outlook in the novel. Disturbing descriptions of his destitution as a homeless child in Liverpool thwart the general vision and viewpoint.  (🔥) He was saved and introduced to the Earnshaw family by Mr. Earnshaw which allows for a slightly brighter outlook on the text, but this is shortly decimated by the racism and discrimination Heathcliff is subject to for his ethnicity as a Gypsy. The relationship between Hindley Earnshaw and Heathcliff was toxic for the setting. It initiates a cluster of events that are to have catastrophic consequences. Heathcliff would ultimately seek revenge against those who wronged him, this would turn out to be his hamartia. This path of destruction is destined to destroy the lives of many characters in the text. The setting is unmistakably dark.

However, unlike in the ''Wuthering Heights''  and ''The Plough and The Stars'', the setting in F. Scott Fitzgerald's ''The Great Gatsby'' provides a positive outlook in the beginning. The reader is introduced to Tom and Daisy Buchanan's East Egg mansion. It was magnificent ''cheerful red and white Georgian Colonial mansion overlooking the bay. The lawn started at the beach and ran toward the front door for a quarter of a mile''. This is quite the contrast to the isolated gothic Wuthering Heights household and the Dublin tenement slums. Set in the roaring 20's, the emergence of jazz was dominating the music scene, post WWI celebrations were omnipresent throughout the vibrant city of New York and the culture for women was evolving to defy societal expectations. A sense of youthful revolt saturated the atmosphere. Jay Gatsby, the hopeless romantic in pursuit of his long lost love Daisy, completes the idyllic positive setting and gives the novel an optimistically bright outlook. Dreams are possible. 

In addition to the setting all the main characters in the novels play a pivotal role in determining the bright or dark outlook of the texts.

In ''The Plough and The Stars'', Nora is the central character in the story - everything that happens turns directly or indirectly on her. She is the person with the most insight into what life should be like and where the dangers lie, she is, in essence, one of the only beacons of light within the text. She is victim to dark forces outside her control and these slowly extract any bright outlook the novel could possibly have. Her marriage to Jack Clitheroe is one of imbalance and her opinion is insubstantial because of her gender. She lives in a poorly furnished tenement. Nora's life is dreary and bleak held up only by her positive can-do attitude. She continues her descent however, as Jack's absence begins to wear on her mental capacities. She resorts to desperately wandering the streets, heavily pregnant and in the line of gunfire, to search for her husband. Jack inevitably becomes a victim of the war and a cloud of darkness seeps into the very essence of Nora's character. (Retelling the story 🙅🏻.) That splint of light in Nora's eye, the only in the text, is extinguished.

Not at all unlike Nora, Heatchliff in the ''Wuthering Heights'' is primarly a victim to forces outside his control. His ethnicity as a Gypsy has tormented his life.  (Repetition 🙅🏻.) It costs him his dignity, his education, his true love Catherine and sees him relegated to a peasant in his own household. These dark elements produce a truly negative outlook of the text and one correctly assumes it will only get worse. Heathcliff's hatred for those who have discriminated against him sees him embark on a grand voyage of revenge. He returns to Yorkshire some time later a rich man, eager to cause destruction. Heathcliff strips Hindley of his assets and dignity, disrupts the marriage of Catherine and Edgar Linton while she is heavily pregnant and marries Isabella Linton only to mistreat her. Isabella's question ''Is he a man? Or a Devil?' is entirely relevant, a previously bright character who emitted positivity and persistence in the text has turned into a truly dark force.

Unlike Heathcliff and Nora, Jay Gatsby's life in ''The Great Gatsby'' is portrayed as that of a high-roller. He is prosperus, opulent and rich (There is no need for a list of synonyms 🙅🏻). He is living the 'American Dream' and his life seems to be filled with all the faculties one could only imagine in their wildest dreams. Gatbsy has the latest Roll Royce, a beautiful mansion on West Egg, a famously enigmatic personality and he hosts the most extravagant parties in all of New York. Initially, his life gives the reader an extremely positive outlook on the text, a rags to riches story. In comparison to Nora and Heathcliff, Gatsby's life appears to be the antithesis in every way. However, Gatsby, despite his illustrious wealth, is to travel the same road of despair as the other unfortunate characters. The hotel plaza scene begins the demise of The Great Gatsby's great fantasy. In an instance his perfect illusion fades away as Daisy refuses to tell Tom that she never loved him. This fantasy continues to unravel when he attempts to take the blame for the murder of Myrtle Wilson. He is adamant that Daisy will still have a relationship with him after all this. Of course, this fantasy has been utterly shattered at this point, but Gatsby's despair is deluding him. At this point the rise and fall of Gatsby is complete, his efforts to retain Daisy have been reduced to nihilism (Don't use words that you're not 100% sure how to use 🙅🏻) and this emits a truly dark outlook on the text.

The denouement is extremely important in creating a final and enduring general vision and viewpoint of either darkness or brightness. The altruism of Nora's hope of keeping the family together has been tragically decimated: Jack has chosen to fight in the war rather than remain home with Nora, causing her to plunge into a state of despair. Bessie is killed attempting to be hero: this brutal act serves to show that during the war bravery and strength do not always have positive outcomes. The text ends on a stalemate and the reader does not know what will become of the remaining characters. Similarly, in "The Great Gatsby", despair and darkness reign over the final general vision and viewpoint. The hit and run of Myrtle Wilson is pegged on the dead Gatsby. Tom and Daisy use him as a scapegoat and move away to start their new lives afresh, completely unconcerned with the destruction they have caused, as seen through Daisy's not showing up to Gatsby's funeral in the wake of his murder. Where Tom and Daisy will move to and how their relationship will unfold is uncertain. The death of the most virtuous characters in the text saturates the general vision and viewpoint in darkness.

In contrast to ''The Great Gatsby'' and ''The Plough and The Stars'', "Wuthering Heights" ending is the least melancholic. Heathcliff's ending is not quite as optimistic, however. In fact, darkness seems to accompany Heathcliff until his death near the end of the novel. Bronte's vision of life here seems to say Heathcliff's plans came to nothing because of his obsessive love for the long dead Catherine, whose ghost he says 'is relentless' in haunting him. He has failed, too, to prevent the developing love of Hindleys son, Hareton, and Edgar and Catherine Linton's daughter Cathy Linton. Heathcliff's looming darkness over the text is rescinded after his death, the next generation promises hope allowing a bright outlook to emerge over what was otherwise a truly dark one. The equipoise of dark and bright, love and hate makes what would otherwise be an ordinary novel, extraordinary.

In conclusion, the dark may win out over the bright or vice versa, but they cannot exist without one another. Situations and circumstances may turn dire and characters may lose everything they have, but the determination to do good and motivation to power through the dark times creates alot of what gives character to the characters and a meaningful purpose to a story.

Leaving Cert English Comparative General vision viewpoint great gatsby wuthering heights plough stars
Taken by a friend in Richmond, London

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