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The Great Gastby

Uploaded by merced3291 on Nov 06, 1999

F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" is rich in symbolism, which is portrayed on several different levels in a variety of ways. One of the most important qualities of symbolism within this novel, is the way in which it is so fully integrated into the plot and structure. Some of the symbols are used mostly as tools for characterization such as Wolfsheim's cuff links, Gatsby's huge library of uncut books, and Tom's repeated gesture of physically pushing other people around.

Other symbols such as Gatsby's car, symbolizing material wealth in America and its destructfulness, have a function in the plot as well as a more abstract significance. However, the major symbols such as the valley of ashes, the green light, and the east and west, are filled with meanings that go beyond the plot, and truly capture Fitzgerald's theme of this novel; the corruption of the American dream.

The corruptive effect of wealth is shown by the conflict between the established rich, represented by the East Eggers, and the newly rich, represented by the West Eggers. West Egg is the home of the nouveaux riche, of Gatsby and those like him who have made huge fortunes, but lack the traditions associated with inherited wealth and are therefore vulgar. The East Eggers, represented by the Buchanans have the traditions and lack vulgarity, but they have been corrupted by the purposelessness and the empty futures their money has provided. The downfall of the American promise is also symbolized by the reversal of east and west. When the settlers came to the "New World" (America) to escape persecution and the corruption of their countries, they traveled from east to west. However, since the ideal has been corrupted, people travel from west to east attracted by the wealth and a materialistic life, masking the true emptiness of their goal of happiness. Daisy, Tom, Nick, Jordan, and Gatsby all were westerners, and by moving east, they moved from a world of values to a moral vacuum, represented by the "valley of ashes."

The valley of ashes represent a modern world, which is like a grotesque hell created by modern industry. Factories and trains, produced in the manufacture of wealth, has polluted America with its wastes. It is a physical desert that symbolizes the spiritual desolation, that a society based on money creates. Overlooking the valley, are the sightless eyes of T.J. Ecklburg, an advertisement on a billboard...

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Uploaded by:   merced3291

Date:   11/06/1999

Category:   The Great Gatsby

Length:   3 pages (648 words)

Views:   2532

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