“Sometimes it’s not the person that changes but just that their mask falls off.” In my essay, I have chosen to explore the theme that “people prefer to hide their true identities so the can fit in with the people they associate with and society.” This theme is clearly displayed in many texts, however I have selected four texts where this theme is the most evident, these are the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The short story The Sniper by Liam O’Flaherty, the song That’s Not Me by Skepta and the movie Batman Begins which is directed by Christopher Nolan.
The first text I will be discussing is the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, at the beginning of the book we are introduced to the character Jay Gatsby as the story progresses we further understand how Gatsby changed his identity to become the person daisy Buchanan wanted him to be, Daisy is a character that is introduced later on in the story. the two characters Daisy and Gatsby had met 5 years earlier and Gatsby had fantasized about having a future with Daisy. To accomplish his lifelong dream of this he changed his entire personality and identity to attract daisy which is supported by the quote “he must be about His Father’s business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception, he was faithful to the end.” Gatsby devoted his life to chasing daisy, he would hold parties in her honour in hopes that she would one day make an appearance and they could renew their love. Gatsby lived a life of false identity and false hope that he would fall in love with daisy but as we get deeper and deeper into the story cracks begin to appear in the persona he created and we started to see the real side of the corrupt man he really is. Once his walls came down his dreams of living with daisy as she too had been fooled by the fake man he was. In the end of the novel daisy is faced with a choice to continue her relationship with tom (her current Significant other) or start over with Gatsby, she didn’t choose Gatsby as she had been exposed to the fact that he was living a lie and became the person she wanted him to be. “He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life.” this represents how strongly devoted Gatsby was to this persona, even though he was living a lie he could persuade anyone with his charm and “reassuring” appearance.
The second text I will be discussing is the short story the sniper by Liam O’Flaherty. This story is about a young republican sniper that is fighting in the Irish civil war. The young sniper is located in a building during the late evening, he decided to take the risk of his enemies seeing him whilst he lit up a smoke, this was a terrible mistake as immediately the enemy fired a shot off at him but it missed him and struck the top of the parapet, the young sniper cautiously crawled to the left and took another puff from his smoke and his enemy once again fired another shot but the bullet flew just over his head, the sniper and now seen a flash from the opposite side of the street and knew where his enemy was, however, it was too late and the enemy sniper had got off a shot that hit the republican in the arm, this meant that he was unable to use his sniper, therefore, he developed a plan to kill the enemy sniper, his plan was successful and after this he began to leave the building and exit the war zone but, “When the sniper reached the laneway on the street level, he felt a sudden curiosity as to the identity of the enemy sniper whom he had killed.” he slowly approached the body he killed and “Then the sniper turned over the dead body and looked into his brother’s face.” This extract from the text represents how both of these brothers had hidden the fact that they were snipers in the army, in the end, this resulted in a fatal disaster. This relates to the great Gatsby because both of the brothers in the Sniper had to keep their ‘second life’ a secret from the people they cared about most, in the Sniper it’s their family and in the Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby kept his ‘Real personality’ from the people he cared about most, however in this text it was his friends. They both hid their ‘true selves’ from their loved ones for similar reasons, they both did it to protect them. they were just protecting them from different things such as the brothers were trying to hide the fact that they were in the army to stop the chance of having their friends and family worry about them risking their lives at war whereas Gatsby is protecting his friends from his true self as he believes he is a bad man and his new self is more of a gentlemanly person to be around and he thinks his old personality isn’t a good person.
The third text I will be discussing is the song that’s not me by Skepta. this song develops the idea of how he had to lie about his true identity to fit in with society and hide his true morals, “Nah, that’s not me Act like a wasteman? That’s not me Sex any girl? Nah that’s not me Lips any girl? Nah that’s not me Yeah, I used to wear Gucci I put it all in the bin cause that’s not me True, I used to look like you But dressing like a mess? Nah, that’s not me” this extract from the song represents how Skepta use to wear designer clothes to fit in with society however he stopped trying to keep up with the trends and began to wear the clothes that he liked regardless of what others thought of him. when he says ” Sex any girl? Nah that’s not me Lips any girl? Nah that’s not me” he is describing how he has multiple girls that would be willing to ‘get with him’ as he is a very famous musician and that he has enough self-respect to not kiss or have sex with any random girl. This is why he says he is not a ‘wasteman’, which is a person who does nothing with their lives and is a waste of time and space. another extract from this song is “Flashback to the cold nights in the trap Now I’m in a new whip counting the big stack,
Yellow-gold chains and the diamonds are black” This quote represents how Skepta used to have little money and he used to sell drugs in his ‘trap house’ (a crack house) to survive, however he now has a successful career he can afford many luxuries such as ‘stacks of money’ and fancy jewelry such as “gold chains studded with black diamonds.” as he mentions in the song This quote represents how Skepta had to be a different person to what he is now by doing things that are immoral just so he can make some money. This text relates to the sniper because in the sniper they had to keep part of their life a secret so they could fit in with their family and not be judged by their peers, this is the same in the song that’s not me, he acted like a different person or a ‘wasteman’ as he calls it to avoid his peers and society judging him. this causes both to be forced to do something they don’t necessarily want to but their situation has forced them into doing it, for example the sniper is put into a situation where he has to kill his brother during a war as he didn’t know it was his brother. and Skepta was forced into selling drugs as he had no money and that’s what he had to do in order to live a decent lifestyle these texts also relate because they are both trying to do the right thing not knowing it could have a negative impact as The brother was just doing his patrol and it resulted in him killing his brother, unaware that he was the enemy firing at him. And Skepta did immoral things to survive, that could have resulted in him going to jail for illegal actions.
The last text I will be discussing is the batman begins movie directed by Christopher Nolan. This movie is about a man by the name of Bruce Wayne who witnessed his parents death at an early age, decides to travel to the far east Asia and meets a mysterious man called Ra Al’ Ghul who is the head of the shadows of evil, he is then mentored by Henri Ducard in how to fight evil. after Bruce learns the skills he needs to banish the crime in Gotham city, he returns to the city only to find that is has been overruled by crime and corruption, he decides he needs to do something to change this and because he is the CEO of the Wayne enterprises applied sciences division he manages to create a figure that will lay fear in the heart of the criminals in Gotham. That figure was Batman. “I wear a mask. And that mask, is not to hide who I am, but to create what I am.” this quote from the movie represents how he made this persona to create something to be feared not to hide who he was, this shows that he was not afraid of the criminals he would be fighting it also develops the idea of how most people that ‘wear a mask’ are hiding something, where this is not the case in this particular situation. the illusion in this text is different to another example I have seen because in most texts I have read the character that is related to illusion is afraid of what will happen if people will find out about their true selves but in this text the character is not afraid of what people would think he just created ‘Batman’ to put the ideology of fear in peoples minds when they think of him. This text relates to the song ‘That’s not me’ by Skepta in the way that both characters have a hidden element in their lives for example Skepta suppressed his true identity by doing the mainstream thing all the time, like trying to keep up with the fashion trends as he mentions in the song he used to wear designer brands such as “Gucci” and “LV(Louis Vuitton)” and in Batman case he suppressed his true identity “You know how people have different sides to their personality? Sometimes… a person will have to actually lead a different life.” This quote from the movie shows that he hid a side of his personality which actually lead a different life than his other persona of Bruce Wayne. another way this text relates is that they are both just trying to make a positive impact with their actions. For example, Batman tries to end crime in Gotham without murder, and Skepta uses his music to create joy for his listeners.
“Sometimes it’s not the person that changes but just that their mask falls off.” I believe that everyone puts a mask over their face at some point to hide something they are ashamed of something they have done or something they would like to improve so they cover up the negatives to make it sound much better. After analyzing the illusion in the great gatsby, the sniper, that’s not me and batman begins I have shown that covering up some points of your life to protect can harm people you love and you should be completely honest with the people you are close with. Otherwise, it usually has a negative impact as we saw in the second text The Sniper.
By Matt Wilson