Use of Symbols and Symbolism in The Great Gatsby Essay

Use of Symbols and Symbolism in The Great Gatsby Essay

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Symbolism plays an important role in any novel of literary merit. In his novel The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald uses symbols to portray events, feelings, personalities and time periods. Throughout the narrative, Fitzgerald uses strong contrasting symbols such as West Egg and East Egg. His superior use of other predominant symbols such as color and light are also evident throughout the novel.

The story begins as the narrator, Nick Carraway, describes his arrival to West Egg. One can immediately spot "new-money Gatsby and no-money Nick on one side of the bay and old-money Buchanans on the other" (Tanner x). The superiority of East Egg to West Egg is instantly apparent and has much meaning. East Egg represents the high class, the dignified and the elite. The people who live in East Egg come from wealthy family lines. In opposition to this, West Egg represents the newly rich or those with almost no money at all. There is much arrogance and disdain between these two groups as can be noted on page 16 of the novel when Jordan Baker "remarks contemptuously" on the fact that Nick lives in West Egg.

The symbolism of eggs can be further explained. During one of Gatsby's parties, Nick is offered an egg. He cracks it open and finds a beccafico, a delicacy, and a treasure. Tanner remarks on this striking parallel to the "New World". If one looks at America and what it has created, does one see a "disgusting, aborted, stunted and still-born thing, fit only to be thrown away? Or a treasure, something special (...) and marvelous and rare?" (x). The Eggs in the novel represent the two parts of America: one (East Egg), materialistic, superficial and self-indulgent and the other (West Egg), which is always awaiting the coming of someth...


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...ott Fitzgerald's Criticism of America." Modern Critical Interpretations: F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. 11-27.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. England: Penguin, 1990.

Tanner, Tony. "Introduction." The Great Gatsby. Author F. Scott Fitzgerald. England: Penguin, 1990. vii-lvi.

Way, Brian. "The Great Gatsby." Modern Critical Interpretations: F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. 87-108.

Hack, Robert and Libby Stockstill. "Colour in The Great Gatsby." http://www.nmusd.k12.ca.us/cdmhs/gatsbycenter/roberthack&libbystockstill. November 29th 1997, 5:16pm.

O'Brien, Meghan et al. "Colour Imagery in The Great Gatsby." http://www.nmusd.k12.ca.us/cdmhs/gatsbycenter/meghanobrien/gg.html. November 29th 1997, 5:23pm.

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