Symbolism in "The Great Gatsby"

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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is bursting with symbols and motifs. Looking deeper into these symbols will uncover the abstract and intangible themes and messages portrayed throughout the novel. The green light at the end of Daisy’s dock as well as T.J Eckleburg’s eyes overlooking the Valley of Ashes and the discrepancy between not only the characters of East and West Egg but the social class and standard of living they abide by. By uncovering all of these symbols and exposing them in their true light, a better understanding of the messages F. Scott Fitzgerald is revealing can be obtained. The confusion within the Great Gatsby can deciphered and straightened out.

The green light represents everything to Gatsby when he moves to West Egg. The green light that Gatsby is so fond of gazing at from his own house across the Long Island Sound represents his unattainable dream, and obscure future, “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic 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- So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back carelessly into the past” (Fitzgerald 189). This excerpt from Nick Carraway about the green light focuses on the past since the future is too sinister to imagine. All hope is lost, but one day the dream might be obtained, everyone has something they long for that is just off in the distance. Gatsby moves to the East in search for Daisy; while doing so, he acquires the willingness for money, success and acceptance. It is evident in the fact that he is in need of all these traits before he can successfully reach Daisy and that is all he wants them for...

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...shed up things and creatures and then retreated to their money or vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together and let other people clean up the mess they made…” (Fitzgerald 187-88). Class and social structure symbolize the physical make up of the Eggs. The Long Island Sound is the barrier between people and their wants, dreams and desires.

Many early novels portray ideas and thoughts that are confusing at times and are even unjustified. Symbolism throughout the novel can be used to uncover the main premise the author is writing about. Comparing their true value to each and every character can help reveal the unseen and obscure characteristics of the more complex and compound characters. Turning to symbolism is the most proficient way to attempt to discover the author’s moral portrayed through the book and his characters.

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