A Study of the Use of Symbolism in The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby was written by a famous American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. Firstly published in 1925, it was one of the greatest novels in the history of American literature [waste of space to restate common sense knowledge], for it truly reflects the life of different classes in America and the decline of American dream during the Jazz Age. In order to display these moral degeneration and corruption lying deep under the surface of American society, Fitzgerald uses a series of writing techniques in this novel. One popular technique is the use of symbols. This paper is basically divided into three parts with each part mainly focusing on the analysis of most frequently occurred symbols of characters, colors, and geographical locations used in The Great Gatsby.
Symbol, characters, colors, geographical locations
The symbolism in characters
The characters in The Great Gatsby are all the epitomes of their own social groups and have typical personalities. Here I would like to analyze what Gatsby, Daisy and Tom symbolize in this novel. 1. the great Gatsby—the lost American dream in Jazz Age To begin the analysis of Gatsby, it is important to explain the history background. Gatsby lived in the Jazz Age, the period after the First World War. America was not among the main belligerent states and sold plenty of armaments to other countries, which gave rise to countless wealth and the economic boom; therefore, America’s 1920s was also called the roaring twenties; it was also called Jazz Age because the jazz music and dance emerged at that time. The economic development stimulated people, especially young people’s desire of material life which was encouraged to be pursued by the Protestant work ethnic and the Declaration of Independence. In Bible, “Freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility achieved through hard work.” In the United States Declaration of Independence, “All men are created equal” and they are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights” including “life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. The pursuit of material life was legalized, young people in Jazz Age, including the author Fitzgerald and the protagonist Gatsby, making every effort to make a fortune. The fortune had another name, the American dream, a positive word at the beginning. Along with the rising economy, however, there was a decline of morality and responsibility. Youth used the influence of jazz to rebel against the conventional culture of previous generation. The overarching cynicism, greed and the empty pursuit of pleasure became the main social trend, the traditional values decaying. People joined the speculative and illegal business, like Gatsby, to get rid of the underclass status. The reputation of the American dream was eroded and labeled with hypocrisy and materialism by the money-seeker and parvenus who made up the lost generation. As I see, it is better to regard Gatsby more precisely as the symbol of the lost American dream than the general term “lost generation” for the character Gatsby was developed in three steps that was also the process of the lost American dream. The relation between common people and the history of a country explains why Fitzgerald appreciates this novel as “one of the most wonderful American novels in history”. At first, Gatsby was a simple young man whose main motivation in acquiring his fortune was his beloved Daisy. It was the same as the original American dream—the motivations were pure and innocent. Then, Gatsby and American dream became the objects that were produced artificially. “Fitzgerald uses the technique of delayed character revelation to emphasize the theatrical quality of Gatsby’s approach to life, which is an important part of his personality. Gatsby has literally created his own character, even changing his name from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby to...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document