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Symbolism Of The Great Gatsby Essay, Research Paper


frazer mcintosh

There are many reasons why F. Scott Fitzgerald is renowned as one of the greatest authors of his time, and one of those reasons is his sophisticated use of symbolism. This is evident throughout The Great Gatsby, one of Fitzgerald s most famous works. While there are countless instances of the use of symbolism, some of those most important to the themes in The Great Gatsby are the East and West Eggs, the green light, and the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg.

From the very first chapter, there is a noticeable difference between the two parts of the city. In fact, Nick make the point that West Egg is, the well, the less fashionable of the two (9). The importance of this difference lies in the fact that one of the major themes of the novel is class and social standing. Most of the characters face some sort of class boundaries, so the East and West Eggs act as a symbol for the barriers by showing a physical separation of the two classes. The people living in East Egg, Tom and Daisy, are the more refined of the two groups. They represent the old money and are especially superficial and materialistic. Those who come from West Egg, on the other hand, are not a sophisticated in the eyes of the East Eggers, and cannot have a truly high social standing, regardless of how wealthy they are, since they are new money. The social barrier is can be found in that Gatsby cannot have Daisy because she is a true rich girl, and the fact that neither Tom nor Daisy are willing to accept what the see at Gatsby s second party, even though Tom is being hypocritical when you consider that his own parties were no more refined in nature than Gatsby s. Gatsby is hopelessly separated from his dream, just as East Egg is separated from West Egg.

In addition to the physical gap that Gatsby wishes to close, the green light coming from Daisy s dock symbolizes the longing Gatsby has for Daisy. Additionally, it also represents Gatsby s great dream a whole. He longs for wealth and acceptance as well as Daisy. No how much he has, however, his longing is still there as long as Daisy is not with him, since everything else he wants is in actuality just part of his dream to have Daisy again. It is worth taking note that his longing is represented by the color green, which is associated with money and envy. So, the green light that always burns at the end of dock, represents everything Gatsby longs for. At the end of the book, Nick comments on the green light: “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… And one fine morning- ” (189).

A final major symbol of The Great Gatsby is the billboard near Wilson s garage, with the eyes of Dr. Eckleburg. Because most of the characters do not seem to have any values or guilt for their misdeeds, Fitzgerald implements the eyes of Eckleburg as a means of judging those who do not fear judgment for their careless actions. They are near Wilson s house because of the events that happen there, especially the conflict between Tom, Myrtle and George, (and Daisy to some extent) where they are all cheating on one another, and of course, Myrtle s death due to the careless behavior of Daisy. Fitzgerald uses the judging eyes of Eckleburg to emphasize the lack of guilt in this culture, and to make a point that perhaps these crimes do need to be punished.

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