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Symbols of The Great Gatsby

The 1920s were a time of big dreams, moral decline, and hardships in America . The Roaring Twenties were a different time altogether with its bootleggers and speakeasies, women becoming more independent, the poor becoming poorer, but through all this was The American Dream keeping the hope afloat. F. Scott Fitzgerald captured this era in his book, The Great Gatsby. Through his many symbols he illustrates the hopes, the forgotten God, and the oppressed Americans of the Twenties. The symbols in The Great Gatsby help convey several different themes, from wealth to loss of morals, to poverty.

The green light in The Great Gatsby is an ambiguous symbol. The green light is deceiving at first, tricking the reader into thinking it is merely a symbol of hope. “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---” (Fitzgerald 189). Gatsby believes the green light will answer his prayers. It is his rock, the only thing keeping him out of despair. He feeds off the green light’s presence. “Those green symbols along with the green light at the end of the Buchanan’s dock are merely smaller and later versions of the Emerald City--full of promise and meaning but ultimately deceptive.” (Barrett 1) Gatsby often looks at the light when thinking of his goals in life. For Gatsby the light is everything he has ever wanted, everything he has ever needed, and the only reason that he is who he is now. “…the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him form Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. ...

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...Literary Resource Center. Gale.13 Jan. 2011

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. “The Great Gatsby.” New York. Macmillan Publishing Company, 1925.

Gross, Dalton and Gross, MaryJean. Understanding The Great Gatsby. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1998.

Hermanson, Casie E. “An overview of The Great Gatsby.” Literary Resource Center 2011. Literary Resource Center. Gale. 12 Jan. 2011

Koster, Katie de. Readings on The Great Gatsby. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc, 1998.

Randall, Dale B. J. “The ‘Seer’ and ‘Seen’ Themes in Gatsby and Some of Their Parallels in Eliot and Wright.”Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism 2007. Literary Resource Center. Gale. 11 Jan. 2011

Shmoop Editorial Team. “The Great Gatsby Symbolism, Imagery & Allegory.” Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. 10 Jan 2011
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