Summary: Symbolism Through The Great Gatsby Novel

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In the novel, The Great Gatsby, novelist Thomas Parke D’Invilliers once said “Then wear a gold hat, if that will move her; If you can bounce high, bounce for her too, Till she cry, “ Lover , gold- hatted, high bouncing lover, I must have you!”. The “American Dream” is the dream of luxury, the dream following the motto that if “You work hard you could achieve all”, Many people work hard unconditionally believing in this motto so that they could also live the life of luxury. In the novel The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald uses symbolism, juxtaposition and imagery to develop the overall theme that due to capitalism there will always be a continuous cycle of inequality towards the lower class, no matter how hard you work the American dream will never be obtainable.

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Throughout the novel, Fitzgerald uses imagery to “valley of ashes” represent how as long as the lower class people are below then the upper class people will always be content and will always care about their own well being. The valley of ashes is being described as, “a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills….of the men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powery air”. Fitzgerald uses this imagery to show how the upper class seen the farm as “a fantastic farm” in contrast to what it represents which is poverty, less money and poor people. The valley of ashes is separated from the city, “The valley of ashes is bounded on one side by a small foul river, and when the drawbridge is up to let barges through, the passengers on waiting trains can stare at the dismal scene for as long as half an hour”. Fitzgerald uses this diction also represents a connection between the lower class people and the higher class people but the lower class people are stuck to the point where they could only admire the lifestyle of the upper class. Fitzgerald describes the valley of ashes as, “The only building in sight was a small block of yellow brick sitting on the edge of the waste land, a sort of compact Main Street ministering to it, and contagious of absolutely nothing”. Fitzgerald uses this description to show how the valley of ashes is seen as a waste land and it’s has at no value to convey how the lower class people are not respected or even acknowledged.

Fitzgerald uses the symbolism of the green light to critique that chasing the American dream is fantasy when coming from a lower class. Gatsby was reaching for the green light, “he stretched out his arms..I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward– and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been at the end of the dock”. FItzgerald uses this diction to show how the lower class will reach and reach to get to the American Dream no matter how far it might be. The green light will never go anywhere and will always shined, ”If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay,’ said Gatsby. ‘You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock.’Fitzgerald uses this symbolism of the green light shining through night and day to array how the American Dream will always be at the top and will always be untouchable by the lower class. The green light represents Gatsby’s hopes and dreams, “ Gatsby believed the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter– tomorrow we will run faster..”. Fitzgerald uses this symbolism of the green light to show Gatsby uses to look up to so he could obtain a higher statue.

FItzgerald uses juxtaposition of the way the upper class and the lower class reacted to the death of Gatsby to highlight how capitalism will always make sure that the higher will always be above the lower class even if the lower class works hard for what they have. When Gatsby dies only a few showed up to his funeral, “I was responsible, because no one else was interested– interested, i mean, with that intense personal interest to which everyone has some vague right at the end.” Fitzgerald is trying to point out that after gatsby dies, nobody was interested because everybody was just interested with the material aspect of things not more so the personal part of things. At gatsby funeral, Tom and Daisy were not showing respect to Gatsby materials, “They were careless people,Tom and Daisy– they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them back together”. Fitzgerald uses this diction to juxtapose the lives of the upper class and to show how the upper class does not care how hard the lower class works to get up to the top, the lower class will always be lower to them.

Fitzgerald uses symbolism, juxtaposition and imagery to develop the overall theme that due to capitalism there will always be a continuous cycle of inequality towards the lower class, no matter how hard you work the American dream will never be obtainable. This claim connects back to the larger society on how the American dream will always be visionary because people in power and the rich will always make it harder for people such as immigrants to get to a higher level. These shows a connection to the hook because many people will do anything to achieve the higher statue and ultimately get to live “The American Dream”.  

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