Symbols and Symbolism in The Great Gatsby

Symbols and Symbolism in The Great Gatsby

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Symbolism in The Great Gatsby


What is unknown is often talked about as being mysterious, perhaps even ominous. Naturally, many people become curious and want to find out what lurks about in the dark and be able to say that they know what others do not. In F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby, the main character, Jay Gatsby is quite enigmatic. Seclusion and isolation are well known to Gatsby, especially when it comes to his personal life and his history. Throughout the novel, except when with Nick or Daisy, Gatsby asserts himself as an observer, who would rather watch others than to join in with the crowd.

The silhouette of a moving cat wavered across the moonlight, and turning my head to watch it, I saw that I was not alone--fifty feet away a figure had emerged from the shadow of my neighbor's mansion with his hands in his pockets . . . (p. 21)

Being the absolute mystery that he is, Gatsby is this "silhouette of a moving cat," and lives his life this way. As this quote shows, Gatsby emerges from the shadow to reveal himself to Nick (who is one of a very few amount of people that he confides in with the truth of who he really is). Whether Gatsby is throwing extravagant parties in his own home or with a small group of people, who he is remains a secret. Gatsby is constantly encompassed by darkness and secrecy

When Gatsby threw his large parties, he was rarely seen amongst his guests and was most often alone, observing them. "Gatsby, standing alone on the marble steps and looking from one group to another."(p. 50) The one time that Gatsby is noticed talking to his guests is when he introduced himself to Nick and started a conversation with him. Yet, most of the time that he throws these parties at his own home, he is alone and does not socialize with the people who attend.

Trying to understand Gatsby is a very difficult thing to do, because there is so much to grasp. Entering into the upper class of wealthy people, Gatsby not only held onto a secret past, but also had the hidden agenda of trying to get Daisy back, whom he had fallen in love with while in the war.

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As people became more and more curious as to where he came from and who he really was, Gatsby stepped farther into the shadows and attempted to blend in with his surroundings. This went on until he met Nick Carraway, Daisy's cousin, who was able to bring him out of his small world. Then, upon reuniting with Daisy, Gatsby was pulled even farther into the reality of who he really was.
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