Symbols Used In Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

1207 words - 5 pages

The Great Gatsby is based on a man named Jay Gatsby and his

idealistic infatuation to a girl named Daisy that he met while he was young.

Gatsby was not of a wealthy family and therefore Daisy would not marry him.

Gatsby devoted his life to getting what he needed to win Daisy. After the

war Gatsby became a bootlegger to attain what he needed to win Daisy. In

the Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald uses various colors, objects, and

gestures as symbols to portray the lack of moral and spiritual values of

people and the different aspects of society in the 1920's. The colors

which are spread throughout the novel are green, white, gold, and others.

F. Scott Fitzgerald provides a social commentary on the 1920's in this

novel. The Great Gatsby is an important American novel and not just a mere

historical document depicting life in the 1920's. Like other writers of

the 20's Fitzgerald was fascinated by the spectacle of what had become of

the American Dream and how it had become corrupted by greed

andmaterialistic possessions.

At the end of Chapter One, Nick catches Gatsby stretching his arms

out towards a green light. At the time it is not revealed to us that this

is the light at the end of Daisy's dock.

he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far

as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I

glanced seaward--and distinguished nothing except a single green light,

minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock. (Fitzgerald


Throughout the novel Fitzgerald emphasizes the color green as a

promise of hope. Through Gatsby this promise is corrupted by the means

that he tries to attain it. By attaining material wealth to win Daisy,

Gatsby also shows the corruption of the American Dream.

In the beginning of Chapter Two, Fitzgerald describes the huge

billboard that watches over the Valley of Ashes.

The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic---their

retinas are one yard high. They look out of no face but, instead, from a

pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose.

(Fitzgerald 27)

The gold or yellow rimmed glasses represent the materialistic

desire for money, and superficial wealth. The empty face represents the

hollowness of people and their materialistic values.

The billboard of Eckleburg also represents another symbol in the

novel. It stands for a empty and dead god.

In Fitzgerald's book, there is a new, but false god, who, the

people (in the person of Wilson) believe, "sees everything." In America in

the 1920s the new god was commercialism or materialism. (Audhuy 109)

The billboard represents the ignored conscience of the idealistic

people. Although it is there and "sees everything" the characters don't


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