Literary Characters Of The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Hanne Boveng Ms. Greve AP Language Arts March 25, 2015 Great literary characters are immortalized and perpetually discussed not because they are individually so grand and majestic, but because they exist as more than themselves. A great literary character truly exists in the external and symbolic associations that the author and audience apply. In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald reveals social and emotional elements of his character Daisy Buchanan through the symbols of white dresses and a pearl necklaces in order to convey a message concerning detrimental class values, a theme that can be better understood by comparing Daisy to a diamond. Fitzgerald’s use symbolic white dresses contributes symbolism that enhances and reveals meaning in Daisy Buchanan’s character. Daisy is repeatedly described on the concrete level in white dresses. However, this repeated choice tells the reader about much more than Fitzgerald’s sense of fashion. White is a traditional and well-known symbol of purity; western brides adorn themselves in hues of white silk and organza on their wedding days to showcase their virtue. Fitzgerald takes this classic symbol and expands on its intended meaning by associating the color with ideas about social class. When narrator Nick Carraway attends dinner at the Buchanan residence, he first introduces the audience to this symbol as he comments that Daisy and her friend Jordan Baker “Were both in white and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house” (12). Shortly thereafter, Nick discusses the color again as he explains “Sometimes [Daisy] and Miss Baker talked at once, unobtrusively and with a bantering inconsequence that was never qu... ... middle of paper ... ...ehind these “gestures”, not necessarily of her own accord, but because she has been taught to do so by the exclusive society she belongs to. This “raw vigor” and emotion is dismissed as unsophisticated and crass . It is instead concealed under the pretenses of Daisy’s elegant beauty, just as the simplicity of a diamond is concealed under its reputation of rare exquisiteness. The way in which Fitzgerald employs symbolism transforms how the reader interacts with Daisy’s character. The repeated motif of the white dress and the powerful image of the pearl necklace create interlocking messages about the complicated and often destructive nature of social hierarchy. An understanding of Fitzgerald’s view on this theme allows the audience to apply external analogies that establish an augmented perception of Daisy and her relation to real world discussions on class systems.

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