Analysis Of Symbolism In The Great Gatsby And Its Representation Of 1920s America

1051 words - 5 pages

The story of The Great Gatsby takes place over one summer in 1922 in Long Island. On the surface it is a love story with a tragic ending but if one looks deeper into the novel's symbols and themes, one finds that it deals with larger, more serious social and existential issues. The Great Gatsby is a symbolic criticism of 1920s America and the corruption of the American dream by material excess and moral decay.Fitzgerald portrays this decline by the fate and interactions of various characters typical of that place and era. Gatsby lives in a huge mansion on the "West Egg" of Long Island, paid by the proceeds of bootlegging and other crimes. His friend Nick lives next door in a more modest ...view middle of the document...

Gatsby is certain that she married only for convenience, and that she is still in love with him. His all-consuming desire is to amass enough wealth to bridge the social gap between them so they can get married. "He wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should go to Tom and say: 'I never loved you.' After she had obliterated three years with that sentence they could decide upon the more practical measures to be taken. One of them was that, after she was free, they were to go back to Louisville and be married from her house - just as if it were five years ago." (116) He stops at nothing to re-create their common past, but Daisy's shallow character and preoccupation with superficial things prevents her from appreciating the depth of his love.The narrator Nick compares the land of America rising from the ocean to the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. "And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors; eyes - a fresh, green breast of the new world."(189) Just as Americans built America on their dreams for their own lives, Gatsby puts all of his hopes and dreams in Daisy and regards her with idealized perfection that she neither deserves nor possesses. "There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams - not through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion." (101) Gatsby's dream is ruined by the unworthiness and emptiness of its ultimate goal, just as the American dream in the 1920s is ruined by the unworthiness of emptiness of its goal - money and pleasure. Gatsby wants to re-create the past - his time in Louisville with Daisy - but is incapable of doing so. When his dream crumbles, all that is left for Gatsby to do is die, and all...

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