Personal Identity Is Permanent

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Personal Identity is Permanent Most people identify themselves, or are identified, in one way for all of their lives. It is only when one comes from a troubled past that they may try to change who they are, especially when they were born poor. It is a sad circumstance to think of someone trying to escape the grasps of their social class to move up in the world because it is simply impossible. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby embellishes this idea entirely as well as Joseph Butler’s essay Of Personal Identity. Through the duration of their lives, Myrtle and Gatsby try to escape their true identity using money, which Fitzgerald demonstrates using symbolism and setting. Myrtle has resided in the Valley of Ashes all her life. A bleak and dark place often described as being “desolate”, “grotesque” and even “crumbling” (Fitzgerald 23). Even the name Valley of Ashes is symbolic of the people who live there. Ashes are the remains and leftovers from fire, which could often represent success and excitement. The people who are stuck in the valley are poor, dirty people. They literally live below others as a valley is naturally a low area between hill and mountains, West and East Egg. The mountains symbolize power and a much higher class than that of the Valley of Ashes residents. Butler, argues that “identity... [is] living now and hereafter, in any two successive moments” and because she has every moment of her existence in this wretched place it is clear it must represent her identity. Myrtle marries George Wilson, a mechanic who own a garage. In order for him to get business he must repair broken things and in order to do so, things must be broken which is common in this area. Myrtle surprisingly confesses to Tom and the others that, “I married him because I thought he was a gentleman...but he wasn't fit to lick my shoe” (Fitzgerald 34).

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