As the spokesman of the “Jazz Age”, F.Scott Fitzgerald , referred to his own experience, wrote his masterpiece-The Great Gatsby. Through abundant symbols, Fitzgerald profoundly depicted the society of Jazz Age and successfully displayed the disillusionment of American Dream, which existed in the majority of American in 1920s. To describe the restlessness of the “lost generation” in the “roaring twenties”, the author created several typical tragic characters. This paper, based on some symbolic theories, focuses on how the author brought his attitude to the surface to reveal the theme. And by analyzing the symbolic meanings of some leading characters, it further probes into the failure of American Dream.
Symbolism; characters; American Dream; disillusionment
1.1 Plot and characters review
Jay Gatsby, formerly Jake Gatz, is a successful bootlegger with desire of being accepted in the highest social circles of Long Island. Once he has done this, Gatsby spares no effort to win back the love of his former girlfriend Daisy, now married to a boorish "old-money" millionaire, Tom Buchanan. Gatsby's obsession with Daisy and his pursuit of this unworthy dream results in disillusionment and, ultimately, tragedy. Sidelines observer Nick Carraway, recounts the whole story. 1.2 The spokesman of the “Jazz Age”
F. Scott Fitzgerald is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. He was both a representative of his era and a severe critic of society. In his short life, Fitzgerald experiences overnight fame and wealth in 1920s but suffers a lot in 1930s, which shares much resemblance with American society. Furthermore, with a lot of works describing the expectation and disilluionment of the American young generation, he gained irreplaceable position in the history of American literature and was often called the spokesman of “Jazz Age”. The Great Gatsby, for which he was known, is somewhat a reflection of his experience and his attitude towards the American Dream. The novel shows the anomie following the First World War. During the “roaring” 1920s, American society enjoyed unprecedented levels of prosperity as the economy soared. At the same time, Prohibition, the ban on the sale and manufacutre of alcohol as mandated by the 18th century, made many bootleggers millionaires and led to an increase in organized crime. Although Fitzgerald, like Nick Carraway in his novel, idolized the riches of the age, he was uncomfortable with the unlimited materialism and the lack of morality that went with it. The value of money was mostly exaggerated during that age. The connection of the “old money” and “new money” is presented in geographical symbols of the novel: East Egg is the place where the established aristocracy lived, and West Egg – “the self-made rich”. Using his narrator--Nick, the author told about his views of American Dream - it was “originally about discovery, individualism, and the pursuit of happiness” .
2 Symbolism in characters
In the Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald skillfully selected diffirent people, such as Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan, Tom Buchanan and Nick Carraway. This part will analyze the four main characters in detail and discuss their function in symbolism. 2.1 Jay Gatsby
Through the whole life of Gatsby we can see that he is the representative of the people who pursue the American dream. At first when Gatsby falls in love with Daisy, he is frustrated for the huge gap between their social status and wealth. Gatsby is a poor immigrant of low status but Daisy comes from an old wealthy American family. They belong to two totally different worlds under that condition where people all pursue money and material content. So their love is actually desperate and not realistic. He falls into great agony because he lost Daisy and he thinks they didn’t get married just because he is not rich enough. In Gatsby’s opinion, his dream of loving Daisy is ruined by the...