F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby is the story of one man searching for a long-lost love and the struggles he goes through to get her back. It is the story of Jay Gatsby, his wealth, and most importantly, his awe-inspiring love for Daisy Buchanan, his first and only true love. Gatsby spends all of his time trying to build up a life to impress Daisy and win her back from her rich, jealous, and aggressive husband, Tom Buchanan.
Symbolism is strong throughout the novel; from the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock symbolizing how close Gatsby is to Daisy (yet still so far away), to the valley of ashes representing the lost hopes and dreams of the people in the city. There is also the mantle clock, a symbol of lost time between Gatsby and Daisy, the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, representing God watching over everything, and Daisy’s voice being full of money, representing the life that Daisy led. These are the most powerful symbols in the novel.
Nick Carraway, the narrator of the novel, first sees Gatsby standing outside of his mansion, “standing with his hands in his pockets regarding the silver pepper of the stars” (20). He is standing with his arms outstretched towards a green light. Nick says “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” (20). Gatsby is staring at the light on the end of Daisy’s dock as it is later revealed. Gatsby is standing there, with his arms stretched out, to welcome the love of Daisy and to give his love to her. He is reaching toward her, trembling because of the power of his love and the pain from their years of separation. The light represents how close Daisy is to him, but still so far away, in separate worlds. It could also be thought of in the sense that his love is still burning bright for Daisy. Gatsby has been separated from Daisy for many years, but he still loves her deeply. When Daisy and Gatsby later reunite, they are standing in Gatsby’s bedroom, looking out across the bay. Gatsby points out the green light and says “If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay” (92). He then says “You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock” (92). Daisy realizes that Gatsby has been waiting for her and has been looking at the light for a long time, and then she takes his arm. Nick then has the thought that perhaps the green light is not as important as it once was, because Daisy and Gatsby are now linked arm in arm.
The valley of ashes is described as “a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air” (23). The valley of ashes represents all of the dreams that died in the city and were never lived out, almost a valley of regrets. “Men move dimly” (23)...