The Great Gatsby and Philip Larkin essay plans

Grace Fawcitt
Note by Grace Fawcitt, updated more than 1 year ago
Grace Fawcitt
Created by Grace Fawcitt about 3 years ago
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Edexcel English Language and Literature A Level: The Great Gatsby and Philip Larkin essay plans. This resource includes 8 essay plans based on masculinity, femininity, power, materialism/consumerism, death/violence, society's negative impact on the individual, love, and illusion vs. reality. It also has ideas for how to plan the essay itself in exam conditions. Only suitable for A Level students as it includes comparative elements that aren't used in the AS exam.

Resource summary

Page 1

The Great Gatsby and Philip Larkin essay plans

The exam The exam is 2 hours and 30 minutes, with two sections: unseen prose non-fiction, and the Gatsby and Larkin question if you've studied the 'Society and the Individual' topic. You should spend 1 hour and 30-45 minutes on the Gatsby and Larkin question, which is 30 marks (the biggest question). It is Section B of Edexcel's English Language and Literature A Level Paper 2.  The question will be structured along the lines of 'Evaluate the effectiveness of methods used by F Scott Fitzgerald and Philip Larkin to present __________'. The essay plans provided in this resource cover 8 possible steers: masculinity, femininity, power, materialism/consumerism, death/violence, society's negative influence on an individual, illusion vs. reality, and love. I have also included introductions for some of the topics.    When writing the answer, remember to consider the following points as a tick list: SAGE MICE ECCC Structure Arguments Genre Evaluative comments Motifs/symbols Introduction Conclusion Evidence from Larkin Evidence from Gatsby Comparative language  Context of reception Context of production   There are 4 assessment objectives for this question: AO1- terminology and written expression. Make sure you analyse both literary and linguistic techniques AO2- analysis and evaluation. AO3- context of production and reception AO4- comparison           

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Evaluate the effectiveness of methods used by F Scott Fitzgerald and Philip Larkin to present masculinity

Introduction Example   Despite writing in vastly different eras, both Larkin’s poetry collection ‘The Whitsun Weddings’ (1964) and Fitzgerald’s novel ‘The Great Gatsby’ (1925) hold a strikingly similar portrayal of masculinity as a form of control; men are considered successful based on their possessions, including their wife and family. While Fitzgerald indicates that cramming men into this stereotype is detrimental- Gatsby dies as a result of the struggle between class- Larkin seems to have a more ambivalent relationship with masculinity. He never fought in the war due to his bad eyesight, and he never produced children, so he may be viewed as a subversion of the masculine stereotype, especially given his rejection of the philistine and sometimes vulgar nature associated with men in the 1950s and 60s. However, he also considers the concept of legacy; despite being very famous for his poetry, he considered himself not having a legacy as he had no children (the ultimate show of masculinity).

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Evaluate the effectiveness of methods used by F Scott Fitzgerald and Philip Larkin to present women

Introduction Example   In their works, Fitzgerald and Larkin both scrutinise women and the feminine identity, but in significantly different manners. Fitzgerald’s novel, ‘The Great Gatsby’ (1925), is arguably utilised to highlight how women are subject to male control and violence, and are forced to conform to the rigid stereotype of femininity constructed by men. Fitzgerald may have used the novel as a way to criticise the fallacy of women’s suffrage in 1920- the women’s efforts have gained them very little, and Fitzgerald argues whether they actually have real autonomy. In contrast to Fitzgerald’s exposure of sexism, Larkin uses his poetry collection, ‘The Whitsun Weddings’ (1964), to convey sexist beliefs, although it is unclear as to whether these beliefs are a result of intentional misogyny, or due to his lack of understanding of women. His relationship with women is ambivalent; he pities their inferiority in society, but also conforms to many of the sexist beliefs that were typical of 1950s/60s Britain. His relationships with multiple women simultaneously only goes to show his misunderstanding of their nature. It is also fundamental to note that both authors are male, so we may expect their portrayal of women to be subject to the male gaze, consciously or not.

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Evaluate the effectiveness of methods used by F Scott Fitzgerald and Philip Larkin to present power

Introduction Example   Although writing in significantly different eras, there is a striking similarity between Fitzgerald and Larkin’s portrayal of power. On the one hand, we see power as a form of control employed by those in positions of authority or status to manipulate those inferior to them. Fitzgerald’s novel, ‘The Great Gatsby’ (1925), clearly demonstrates the power within relationships is controlled by the man. As a result, we could argue that Fitzgerald presents this imbalance of power in order to criticise the sexism that was typical of 1920s America. Similarly, Larkin uses his poetry collection ‘The Whitsun Weddings’ (1964) to illustrate male authority, perhaps influenced by his father’s controlling relationships with his mother. However, an alternate reading of power within these two works is the durability and impact of love and dreams. Although power destroys Gatsby, the power of his love and dreams is still admirable to Nick. Larkin often questions the validity of love and faith, but seems to appreciate its power over our lives.  

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Evaluate the effectiveness of methods used by F Scott Fitzgerald and Philip Larkin to present materialism/consumerism

Introduction Example   Although writing in vastly different eras, both Larkin and Fitzgerald provide a striking portrayal of materialism and consumerism, and the detrimental effects they have on lives. In Fitzgerald’s novel, ‘The Great Gatsby’ (1925), we see materialism and consumerism as the true downfall of Gatsby, Myrtle and George- they pursued their dreams of wealth, only to have them stripped from them, ironically enough, by the wealthy. There is a sense of absence to the aforementioned wealthy people in the novel, which is most apparent in Tom and Daisy. Fitzgerald may be criticising the inert and thoughtless nature of old money, especially when we see the vitality of Gatsby being so callously cut short. Larkin illustrates a similar state of affairs in 1950s and 60s Britain; materialism and consumerism has made people blind to reality. Instead, people dress up in costumes and perform their daily routines in a monotonous cycle of buying and consuming, buying and consuming.

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Evaluate the effectiveness of methods used by F Scott Fitzgerald and Philip Larkin to present death and violence

Introduction Example   In their works, Fitzgerald and Larkin portray subtly different views of death, although their illustration of violence is startling similar. In Fitzgerald’s novel, ‘The Great Gatsby’ (1925), we see death as a symbol of failure to achieve dreams, and even, to an extent, how dreams are the true downfall of the characters. Gatsby dies as a result of Daisy’s actions, George dies as a result of his dream to leave the VoA with Myrtle, and Myrtle dies as a result of her relationship with Tom. Interestingly, all deaths are unnatural in The Great Gatsby- murder and suicide- so we could comment on how desire ultimately kills. Larkin, in contrast, has a more ambivalent view of death; he fears it, but it also intrigues him. In many of his poems, the cause of death is consumerism, much like Fitzgerald, but he also shows the power of death in poems like ‘An Arundel Tomb’, which considers legacy.

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Evaluate the effectiveness of methods used by F Scott Fitzgerald and Philip Larkin to present society's negative impact on individuals

Introduction Example   Despite the time differences between Larkin writing his poetry collection ‘The Whitsun Weddings’ in 1964, and Fitzgerald writing his novel ‘The Great Gatsby’ in 1925, both writers reflect on the ways in which their distinct societies affect individuals’ lives, particularly in a negative manner. Larkin often utilises his poetry to critique society’s view of relationships, especially in terms of female inferiority, while Fitzgerald’s novel, although fictional, provides a scathing perspective of the ways in which wealth and social class creates loveless marriages and infidelity, perhaps portrayed as a result of Fitzgerald’s tumultuous relationship with Zelda. Larkin also explores faith and patriotism; he takes a cynical view of how society constructs religion for personal gain. In contrast, Fitzgerald rarely mentions religion specifically, instead being more implicit; Daisy is the object of Gatsby’s worship, and Gatsby represents a sort of Antichrist. Tom’s skewed patriotism is also illustrated to offer a critique of society’s detrimental perspective of diversity.

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Evaluate the effectiveness of methods used by F Scott Fitzgerald and Philip Larkin to present illusion vs. reality/ deception

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Evaluate the effectiveness of methods used by F Scott Fitzgerald and Philip Larkin to present love

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