F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby - Symbols and Symbolism

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby - Symbols and Symbolism

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Symbolism in The Great Gatsby


Symbolism is what makes a story complete.  In "The Great Gatsby" Fitzgerald cleverly uses symbolism.  Virtually anything in the novel can
be taken as a symbol, from the weather, to the colors of clothing the
characters wear.  There are three main symbols used in The Great Gatsby, they are The East and West Egg, the green light at the end of Daisy's dock, and the eyes of Dr.T.J. Eckleburg.

     One of the most important symbols in the novel is class and social
 standing. It is like a barrier for almost every character. East and West
Eggs act as a symbol of this by its physical makeup. Tom and Daisy live on the
 East which is far more refined and consists of people with more money and
a higher social status. East Egg also represents the "old money." Nick and
 Gatsby are on the West, which is for people who don't have any real
standing, even if they have money.  The West Egg represents the "new money."  The
green light shines from the East Egg to the West Egg luring Gatsby towards what
he has always wanted. And Daisy, the woman that Gatsby has always wanted but
 never gets, lives on East Egg. There is also a barrier of water between
the two cities that keeps people like Daisy and Gatsby apart from one another
and keeps them from reaching their goals and what they want in life.

     Another symbol used in the novel was colors.  The first was the green
 light.  The light was only a light, however to Gatsby it becomes his dream
 for the future.  The light symbolizes hope and dream.  The dream is Daisy.
 Gatsby buys the house across the bay so he can see the Buchanan's light.
 Later in the story when Gatsby has Daisy the importance of the light
 diminishes.  The color yellow in the story often represents death.  Myrtle
 dies after being hit by a yellow car.  Another example of yellow
representing death is the scene just before Gatsby enters the pool, "He shook his head
and in a moment disappeared among the yellowing trees" (Fitzgerald 169).  This
 shows that he was about to die just as the leaves in the tree were.

     The final symbol used in the story is the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg.
 Until George Wilson decides that they are the eyes of God, they are simply
 viewed as an unexplained image, as they stare down on the valley of ashes.
 The eyes could mean anything to the observer, but they often make them

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feel as though they are the ones being watched and scrutinized.  The eyes true
 symbolic meaning is preserved in the beginning.  These eyes are disturbing
 throughout the story because they have no fixed meaning.  Everyone
believes that they eyes have different meanings.  They can mean anything that the
 reader wants them to mean, but they themselves look down on a world and
don't judge it by the social classes or beauty. Besides Nick, T.J. Eckleburg is
the only other person to attend Gatsby's funeral.  This is because he saw
 something more in Gatsby than he saw in everyone else.

     To summarize, symbolism takes reading to another level.  Between the
East and West Egg, use of colors such as the green light, and the eyes of Dr.
 Eckleburg it is evident that symbolism was very important in this novel.
 Symbolism is sometimes misleading and difficult to recognize, however, it
is existent in every good novel and makes things more interesting.
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