“Everyone has three lives. A public life, a private life and a secret life.” This quote suggests that everybody has secrets, some bigger than others, some so much tho that they lead a completely different life in the one world. By having a “secret” life, it usually means that you have something to hide or some reason to act as somebody but your normal self in different situations. If you want to lead two lives, you must be discreet but it is very possible. Every person who chooses to live this way has their own reason and way to show/hide it but in the end, they all have the same goal and that’s to be someone they’re not. I will be illustrating this through Jay Gatsby in the novel “The Great Gatsby” written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a biography of Michael Jackson by Tejvan Pettinger, Peter Parker in the film Spiderman: Homecoming directed by Jon Watts and The LandLady written by Roald Dahl. In all of these texts, the character’s named all live two identities but keep one of them hidden. How long can you last before one life catches the other?
In “Spider-man 2”, Peter Parker is a teenage boy who lives two lives, one as your average teenager and one as a superhero. While wearing his mask of spiderman, nobody knows who he is but everyone can see him. He goes around fighting the biggest and baddest villains in the city, reaching front-covers in newspaper and headlines on the news. Peter Parker is getting all the attention but yet, no credit for himself. The negative behind this all is that Peter has to be on call whenever the city needs him, which means that his teenage life is massively disrupted. One of the only people who knows who Peter Parker really is is his girlfriend. However, with him leading these two lives, this mean that Peter doesn’t have was much time for the girl he loves. Gwen Stacey, the girlfriend, starts to get very frustrated with how often Peter must leave to attend his “duties”, Peter’s secret life is driving a wedge between them. The night of their graduation, Peter is suppose to go out for dinner with Gwen and her family, however, Peter is trying to let Gwen live without him, without the danger. Therefore he asks for them to stop seeing each other. This is when Gwen says “You’re spiderman, and I love that. But I love Peter Parker more.” When Gwen says this, it’s proving that you are more loved when you be yourself, for the people that really matter in your life, you don’t need to have a secret life. All Gwen wants his her boyfriend, for them to be together because they love each other and not let “Spiderman” get in the way. At the graduation, Gwen receives an award and for her speech she says “time is luck. So don’t waste it living someone else’s life, make yours count for something. Fight for what matters to you, no matter what. Because even if you fall short, what better way is there to live?” When Gwen says this, she is speaking to the whole audience but in reality she is talking directly to Peter, informing him that she wants to spend their time together and not watching him take on the world. Gwen wants Peter to succeed in life, of course but doing this by being himself, taking pride in what he has achieved, not what a mask has. Even if Peter doesn’t protect the whole of New York city, at least he’ll be living his own life that he can control.
In “The Great Gatsby”, illusion is presented by Jay Gatsby creating a new life for himself. When he was younger, he was a poor boy that got sent off to be in the Army. When he left for this, he lost everything that mattered to him, most importantly the love of his life, Daisy. Therefore when he came back from the army, he wanted something different for himself, a new life and his motivation to do so was Daisy. In order to win Daisy back, he believed that he had to become the man she wanted, a rich man. “The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself…he must be about His Father’s business, the service of 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 was so sick of his past life that he wanted to change identities, change the way people perceived him. He was so certain that he would shape his own reality that he did everything in his power to become rich and well-known, including illegal activity. Eventually Gatsby built himself the life he desired, hosting regular parties where everyone was eager to meet him and also lived in a massive, flash house where everyone would know it was he who lived there. Nobody truly knew who he was or where he came from but they all knew his name and that was exactly what he wanted. He wanted people to spread his name around until it reached the ears of Daisy, she being the only one who really knew where he came from. The idea now of Jay Gatsby is much different to what it once was but the reality is that deep down in him, he is much different than what is seen to be on the surface. Gatsby has created this illusion of himself to not change his life but create a new one. “They were an satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality, a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy’s wing.” This quote suggests that the life he is building for himself is not going to last forever, it is simply a short-term fix. This is because he has put himself into a dream that everything will turn out right, that the world around is is close to perfect but it’s not. Gatsby only looks at the positives in life and hides from the problems, making his fictional life one big dream. His life is fake. Gatsby can not keep living this life forever, one day, his reality will catch up to him. “The Great Gatsby” relates to “Spiderman” in the way that they are both creating a different life for themselves, with one of their identities being hidden. Also, both men are running after a girl, love is what drives them. However, the difference is that Gatsby is creating his illusion to get closer to Daisy, Spiderman’s illusion is causing his relationship to drive apart. In the end, Gatsby loses the girl because he kept his illusion alive too long and Spiderman almost lost Gwen, until he changed. He realised what was most important and saved Gwen.
Michael Jackson was a man who grew up in a big family and he was the youngest, they were all interested in music. The family had their own musical group that performed at clubs and bars trying to get enough attention to take their careers further. Unfortunately, Michael was abused and threatened by his controlling father, this having a massively negative impact on his life. Michael fought through this and achieved many things in his musical career but was permanently damaged from his childhood. Michael soon became a very well-known person from he music, he was awarded the most royal in the music industry and became the most famous pop singer in the world. The media as always, came into play and spread many things about Michael, including his appearance, health and personal life. Michael Jackson had plastic surgery to change his nose and add a dimple to his chin only because he wanted to look better for the stage. He then developed a skin pigment disease that made his skin turn lighter. People were very quick to judge Michael for this and make up assumptions that he was bleaching his skin. All of the hate started to really effect Michael, so much so that he started getting into an addiction for drugs and alcohol. Michael had said that “it’s been the best of times, the worst of times.” This shows us that Michael had loved his singing career, was proud of all his achievements but it still lead to negatives. His career still lead him to driving himself over the edge. However, Michael kept his addiction to himself as long as possible, of course he didn’t want his fans seeing him like this. He would be a let down. Therefore, Michael created an illusion for himself, to seperate his on-stage life to his behind-the-scenes life. People believed that Michael was loving life and was nothing but successful, where as in reality, he was a very depressed, drug-addicted man who couldn’t control his life. “I have a skin disorder that destroys the pigment of the skin, it’s something I can not help, OK? But, when people make up stories that I don’t want to be who I am, it hurts me…it’s a problem for me, I can’t control it.” Michael was very upset that people were perceiving him in a different way other than the truth. Michael couldn’t control what the public thought, what happened to his skin and eventually, how he could deal with it. The illegal activity drove him too far and in result of this, his life ended. This links to The Great Gatsby as they are both creating an illusion that revolves around the way people perceive them, versus what they truly are and both Michael and Gatsby have illegal activity surrounding this. The difference between the two is that Gatsby created his one life’s illusion with the help of illegal activity to get to his end goal, where as Michael had two lives, one that included drugs and alcohol and one that didn’t. Michael tried to hide the fact he was doing these things, he was actually proud of who he was but Gatsby showed off what he had created and tried running away from his real self. In the end, both men were driven too far out of their control, so far that both of their lives were taken because of it.
The LandLady is a lady who runs a hotel in the middle of nowhere, however not many people stayed there, very few in fact. One day a young man, 17 years of age was looking for somewhere to stay and was lead to this hotel. The LandLady was very welcoming of the young man, offered him whatever he wished, making it a very cheap stay for him so he was grateful. She asked the boy, Billy, if he could sign the book of guests so he did so. However, there seemed to be something off, there were only a few other names in the book, names that Billy recognised. Billy never makes the link to where he has heard these names, even though the landlady tells him that they are still in the hotel, together. Billy is confused as to why there are no other guests but continues to be oblivious to the fact that the landlady does more than just gives them hospitality. “But I’m always ready. Everything is always ready day and night in this house just in the off-chance that an acceptable young gentleman will come along.” The landlady is always prepared for visitors but never knows when to be expecting them. This suggests that her secret life, her murderous life, is always a part of her, she is so passionate about using and killing these men for her own entertainment that it has taken over her life. This shows that when you create an illusion so strong, it becomes the only life you know. When the landlady says “I stuff all my little pets myself when they pass.” This tells us that the landlady kills the men that stay with her and keep them for her own pleasure. She is building an illusion to her guests that she is sweet and innocent, wanting nothing but kindness. However, in reality she is building a trap for the men to fall into, they can not see through her illusion and the landlady ends up killing the men. This text is linked to the Michael Jackson biography in the way that they both of a life they are trying to hide. Their criminal life is kept hidden from people and they only show their false self on “stage”. For Michael, this stage is a literal stage for performing where people watch him, where as for the landlady, her stage is the hotel. This is because she sets everything up for it to look inviting to outsiders, fool them into thinking this is a good place to stay but really it’s all just an act. The difference from the two, however, is that Michael ends up killing himself from his choices but the landlady kills other people. This is worse because her actions, her messed up mind, results in the consequences of others, people who did not deserve what they received, at least Michael was paying for his own mistakes.
In conclusion, I have illustrated the use of illusion through the film “Spiderman Homecoming 2” with Peter Parker, the novel “The Great Gatsby” with Gatsby, A Michael Jackson biography and a short story called “The Landlady”. All of these characters use illusion in their lives by creating a secret identity, covering up who they really are to trick people. Peter Parker creates his illusion by being spiderman. Nobody knows who is he or where he’s come from. Peter is effecting his personal life by trying pursue his secretive one. Gatsby is trying to become a different person, pretending to be this person who he really isn’t, leading people to believe his falseness. Michael has his own hidden life that he keeps away from people, the side to him he doesn’t want to show. Only displaying what he believes to be inspiring and they way he wishes to come across. Lastly, the Landlady pretends to be a sweet innocent lady, somebody people can trust, when really she is a very dangerous person that kills her guests. These stories taught us that it’s very easy to become someone you’re not, to make people believe the story you’re telling. Therefore, we now know not to trust what everybody says because they might be living their own illusion, using you, growing off you to build onto their secret life. It is our job not to fall into their trap and our job to be who we truly are.