Symbolism in The Great Gatsby

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James Vermilion
August 21, 2010
Mrs. M. Schnell
AP 11 English

The Great Gatsby

In the novel, The Great Gatsby, there are several symbols that represent different things. The symbols are not anything special, they are just normal things that stand for more than they seem. Of the several symbols in The Great Gatsby, there are five main ones. They are: The valley of ashes, the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock, the mantle clock, and Daisy’s voice “full of money”. Each one of these things has a greater meaning than they appear to.

The valley of ashes, the land between New York City and West Egg, is a stretch of barren land that is the result of factories and other industries dumping their burned waste, or ashes, there. The valley of ashes is representative of social and moral decay, that is the result of people expansively and unrestrictedly pursuing wealth. The wealthy pamper themselves caring for nothing besides their own happiness. It could also symbolize the cry of the unfortunate paupers who reside in the ashes and lose strength because of if, such as George Wilson.

The eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg, are a pair of enormous eyes with glasses on them that are on an old billboard for advertisement, and look over the valley of ashes. They could symbolize the eyes of God, as George Wilson believes, or they could also symbolize the world’s pointlessness, as Nick thinks of when he is wondering at Gatsby’s last thoughts.

The fading green light at the end of Daisy’s dock symbolizes Gatsby’s dreams of the future. In the beginning Gatsby is affiliating it with Daisy as he reaches for it. The green light at the end of Daisy’s dock could also symbolize the American Dream, because how Gatsby wants Daisy back is largely like the American dream, by how things would be better if it happened.

The mantle clock is the clock that is in Nick’s house and the gets knocked over by Gatsby as he walks in, but caught at the last...
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