The Use and Effect of Imagery in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”
A vivid imagination is a wonderful endowment created from sparks of ingenuity. The fire that ignites those majestic sparks is sensational writing. It is evident that F. Scott Fitzgerald certainly has a wild imagination in his novel “The Great Gatsby” due to the vast beauty of applied imagery. Every word Fitzgerald chose carefully and with full intent of stimulating the mood and tone of the novel. Thus, the sensory-oriented writing in Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” establishes mood and tone through the application of a multitude of motifs, detailed accounts of setting and intricate character descriptions.
The clever utilization of motif is consistent throughout the novel. Fitzgerald included a wide variety of motif in “The Great Gatsby” such as focusing on the elements of eyes, dreams, dust and ashes. As Nick Carraway begins the first chapter, he makes references to Jay Gatsby and the “foul dust” (p.8) that “floated in the wake of his dreams” (p.8) to foreshadow how Gatsby’s bright plans were stalked by tragedy. The tone portrayed from the motifs of dreams and dust is that of pity stemming from the powerful words. The introduction Tom Buchanan parallels that of another motif, the eyes. Nick immediately takes a disliking to Tom at first sight (quite the contradiction to Gatsby’s love at first sight with Daisy) and describes him as having “arrogant eyes” (p.12). Although a person cannot have eyes that are arrogant, Nick instantly notices a haughty air about Tom before a word was uttered between them which stabilizes a snide tone and an uncomfortable atmosphere. A tense mood is demonstrated by Nick’s observations that Tom, Daisy and Jordan were superficial people was represented by their “impersonal eyes” (p.17). Collectively, all of the motifs are found in the beginning of Chapter Two that describe a “desolate area of a mile” (p.26) that lies between West Egg and New York. It is a “valley of ashes” (p.26) in which “bleak dust” (p.26) inhabits the land. The ash and dust motifs are stated as dry and fading thus portraying the companion mood of comfortless sadness, a feeling in which all the characters in the novel must face. Fitzgerald’s simplistic motifs produce grand effects on shaping and conveying the mood and tone of each part of the novel.
Rich imagery is ever-so present in the lush depiction of the environment where the novel is taking place. Certainly the contrast between West Egg and East Egg apply to the residences and the mood as it is noticeable that tone also changes when Nick visits in a particular side, be it East Egg or West. Nick describes East Egg to be filled with “white palaces” (p.11) whereas West Egg was where he resided and the “less fashionable of the two.” (p.11) creates a somewhat jealous tone that because Nick lived in an “eyesore” of a house beside Gatsby’s mansion outlined with a “thin beard of raw ivy” (p.11), a magnificent...