28 November 2009
Symbolism in The Great Gatsby
“This is a Valley of Ashes--- a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat.” (26) Three symbols that are shown in The Great Gatsby that are reflected more than any others are Dr. Eckleburg’s eyes, The Valley of Ashes, and Time.
Dr. Eckleburg’s eyes represent the higher power that oversees the upper class society as the root of ethical and moral corruption (Bates). Driving through the Valley of Ashes, the narrator noted: “The eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg are blue gigantic--- their retinas are one yard high. They look out no face, but instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which passes over a non-existent nose” (23).
By describing the Valley of Ashes as a dumpster for modern industrial wastes, Fitzgerald demonstrates the decay in human values that results from the competition for wealth (Bates). When Fitzgerald first introduces the audience to this waste land, the audience was immediately struck with its peculiar feature: “This is a Valley of ashes--- a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat. (26). Farm is a source of food; and food is a source of life; by replacing food with industrial ashes, Fitzgerald eludes to how modernization is beginning to turn people away from humane characteristics (Bates). This point is further supported later in the story when Nick said: “Gatsby is reclaimed by the living dead, by George Wilson the agent of the Valley of Ashes as well as the agent of Gatsby’s death (73). George Wilson is a man who lives in this dumpster of industrial wastes, and he killed Gatsby, a wealthy man of a modern industrialized society. This is symbolic of how the production of wealth and money bring decay to Jay Gatsby. This can be seen as a punishment from a higher power that is unhappy with the path that humankind is taking (Bates). The Valley of Ashes resembles something dark and lifeless. Fire ashes stand for destruction and death. The death of Myrtle...
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