Try to imagine living life during the infamous roaring 20’s. This time was filled with lavish parties, illegal alcohol, bad morals, and really vibrant jazz music. A person living during this time would most likely be a person who deeply cared about their social status and what other people thought of them. Due to the ending of the Great War, economic prosperity for the upper class, and rapid social changes, many people throughout America began to throw away their beliefs and values for the exciting and exuberant life the 1920’s offered. There is no doubt that many people during this time were doing horrible, unmoral things and its clear to see that they believed no one was watching over them as they constantly “sinned.” In the novel, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the author shows us the loss of spiritual values throughout America, the emptiness of the American Dream, and the corruption that filled the hearts of many Americans by the use of the motif of eyes.
The Great Gatsby does an excellent job showing the reader the neglect for spiritual values in America, and how Americans believed there was no greater power watching over them. Throughout the 1920’s by using the famous eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg. Dr. T.J. Eckleburg was an optometrist in New York. His choice of advertising is strange but extremely symbolic to the theme. In the Valley of ashes, his eyes are painted on a billboard that looks down on everyone. These eyes are constantly watching the people slowly give up their values and beliefs. It’s obvious that the eyes on the billboard are consistently watching the people toss away their values because of how the billboard is designed. Nick describes the sign like this, “The eyes are blue and gigantic- their ...
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... advertisement” (Fitzgerald pg. 160). Wilson understands the symbolic meaning of the eyes and how they truly do watch over all the corrupt, shameful things the main characters do.
There I no doubt that the eyes seen throughout the story symbolize the corruption, demise of spiritual values, and the true emptiness of the American Dream during the 1920’s. This time eventually led to the Great Depression and the worst economic times our country has ever seen. There are many connections that a reader can find between life and The Great Gatsby. The biggest one being that there will always be people surrounding you that are genuinely bad people. However, if a person withholds from being like the horrible people that surround them, they show their true character and who they really are.
Fitzgerald, Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2004.
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