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Symbols In "The Great Gatsby" Essay

706 words - 3 pages

There are numerous examples of symbolism exhibited in The Great Gatsby. The three which I believe to be the most prominent and most crucial to the development of the novel are: cars, the green light, and the Valley of Ashes.Automobiles in "The Great Gatsby" were, I believe, the most widely used symbol throughout the entire novel. Cars, especially Gatsby's car, represented the extravagance and grandeur of the Jazz Age. Nick describes it as "a rich cream color, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hatboxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of windshields that mirrored a hundred suns" (Fitzgerald 63). Undoubtedly, Gatsby's car reflects the well-to-do, if not profligate, manner of all prosperous Jazz Agers. However, just as the 1920's were not all fun and games, the automobiles presented in this novel were not all gleaming coupés at the center of all admiration. The foreshadowing car crash of Chapter 3 was described as "a bizarre and tumultuous scene" raging with "violence and confusion" (54). It was an insightful allusion to the future, and whether the 'future' is in regards to the plot of the novel or otherwise, is for us to decide. Lastly, as stated above, Gatsby's car is symbolic of the lavishness and materialistic characteristics of the Jazz Age. Incidentally, this is the car that killed Myrtle and brought about the tragedy of The Great Gatsby. The symbols come together to form a new symbol, that is, lavishness kills.At first glance, the green light shining from the dock of Daisy's house is the object Gatsby associates with Daisy during his years of lonely desire. Upon deeper thought however, it is apparent that neither the 'green' nor the 'light' was chosen without care. 'Green' is often associated with emptiness and envy, but, on a different note, is also emblematic of 'advancement' (think traffic signals) and 'money. 'Light', on the other hand, is symbolic of many things, namely 'day', 'holiness', 'future', and 'life'. Thus, would it...

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