Downfall of the American Dream

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Authors use symbolism in their written expressions in order to enhance the thematic interests of the novel. The use of symbolism allows the reader to interpret the story, which in turn, stimulates a more personal, imaginative, and meaningful experience. Scott F. Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby, became an instant classic because of the symbolism used to enhance the theme throughout the novel. Without this symbolism, the theme of the withering American Dream would have been less than adequate, and the book would have never attained the status and popularity among readers that it does today. The most prominent and influential symbols are the green light, Gatsby’s shirts, and the Valley of Ashes. When Gatsby is first seen, “he stretched out his arms toward…a single green light, minute and far way, that might have been the end of a dock.”(Fitzgerald 26) The green light that he appears to be reaching for is the light on Daisy’s dock. In Gatsby’s early life he had a romantic relationship with Daisy. However, he went away to war and when he came back she was married to an extremely wealthy man, Tom Buchanan. Gatsby concluded in his own mind that in order to win Daisy’s love, he too had to become wealthy. After he established himself financially, he bought a house directly across the water from Daisy and her green light. He associates Daisy with the green light, and it becomes a symbol of her throughout the novel. “The whole being of Gatsby exists only in relation to what the green light symbolizes.”(Bewley 41) Gatsby becomes so infatuated with the green light that it is almost as if Daisy does not even exist. She becomes no more than a romantic dream within the green light on the dock. At last he realizes this when he and Daisy meet and, while staring at the green light, link arms. He finally attains what he thought he wanted and the green light becomes no more than a green light. This false...
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