The American dream, from the front full of hope and promise, but from the back a place of unfulfilled desires and dreams. The Great Gatsby written in 1925 details the extravagant life of the rich in the roaring 20’s and tells the story of love and wealth through the eyes of Nick carraway. In the Great Gatsby, Scott Fitzgerald uses symbolism in the form of a green light, a set of eyes, and a valley of ashes to illustrate the American dream and the highs and lows that come with it.
Firstly, the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock, represents the hope of the American dream. “He stretched his arms out towards the dark water in a curious way and as far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling. I involuntarily glanced seaward and distinguished nothing except for a single green light minute and far away that might have been at the end of the dock”. This is the first mention of the green light in the novel and its described as mysterious and small. The significance of Gatsby reaching out for the light represents hope and goal aspiration. This quote displays howhard people want to reach the goals and achieve the mysterious American Dream.
Another important quote pertaining to the green dock light states, “I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock.” … he has come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eladed us then but that’s no matter tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further”. This quote shows how close Gatsby had come to achieving his dream but couldn’t not grasp onto it. The green light was what Gatsby saw as the future and he believed if he could just reach it then everything would be different and that if he tried hard enough it would happen. The green light is the American dream, always there but impossible to reach. The green light is too far end unreachable, just as the America dream offers more than it has and is impossible to grasp. The symbol of the green light carries the theme of the American dream’s positives and negatives in the novel. Additionally, the eyes of doctor T.J Eckleburg watching over the valley of ashes and the bridge connecting east and west egg moral god who watches directly over the poor and judges the rich. ‘But the eyes, dimmed a little by many paints less days under the sun, and rain brood over the solemn dumping ground.”. The significance of the quote is that the billboard shows a lost hope as The Oculist who made this billboard failed himself and his business didn’t work out. The eyes are worrying watching over the poor area in between the rich eggs When Nick and Tom Buchanan drover by the land, the eyes had, “a persistent stare”. The eyes stared down at Nick and Tom judging them for taking advantage of the work of the poor and their moral actions. Similarly, when they arrive at Mr. Wilson’s garage residing directly adjacent to the billboard, Tom is rude and manipulative to Mr. Wilson, when getting gas and his car fixed. Another time these eyes affected the characters was when, “standing behind him, Michaels saw with a shock that he was looking directly at the eyes of T.J Eckleburg which had just emerged, pale and enormous from the dissolving might”, “God sees Everything,” replied Wilson. This quote shows that the eyes symbolize a moral god always watching This god judges the rich appearing when the biggest moral dilemmas of the novel come up, In the bridge between the east and west eggs. The Brooding eyes of doctor T.J Eckleburg Symbolize the morality and ethics in the American dream where poor are often left being used by the rich. The eyes reveal how achieving the dream can change your view on the world and the things you do.
Finally, the valley of ashes located between the east and west egg is a strip of industrial land gray and covered in ashes, that symbolizes the failure of the American dream. “Oh sure, agreed Wilson hurriedly and went towards the little office, mingling immediately with the cement color of the walls, a white ashen dust veiled his dark suit and his pale hair as it veiled everything in the vicinity- except his wife, who moved close to tom.” Wilson being covered in Ashes and as grey as cement reveals the hard work of the people in the valley of the ashes. Wilson is completely covered in ash, which represents hopelessness, and the sadness of the poor. Another quote that displays the valley of ashes symbolism is, “a new material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about… like the ashes, fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous trees”. This is the moment that Wilson approaches Gatsby as he awaits a call and kills him. The ashen figure gliding towards Gatsby represents his American dream being crushed and taken out of sight and shows just how the American dream can fail for most. The valley of ashes symbolizes the lost hope and failure of the American dream.
Overall, the symbolism from the green light, a set of eyes, and a valley of ashes, reveal the theme of the American dream and the hi9ghs and lows it entails. The American dream is something sought after by millions and the truth behind 9t is that most people don’t achieve their dream or even come close to it. Gatsby was a symbol of the American dream, until the facade was revealed, and his dream was ended, the American dream similar is seen full of riches and treasure but contain nothing.
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