The Symbolism in the Great Gatsby

Topics: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby Pages: 10 (3774 words) Published: October 23, 2012
The Symbolism in The Great Gatsby
1. About the novel:
The Great Gatsby, the exemplary novel of the Jazz Age, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. T. S. Eliot read it three times and saw it as the "first step" American fiction had taken since Henry James; H. L. Mencken praised "the charm and beauty of the writing," as well as Fitzgerald's sharp social sense; and Thomas Wolfe hailed it as Fitzgerald's "best work" thus far. The Great Gatsby was published in 1922 by F. Scott Fitzgerald. At first glance, the novel appears to be a simple love story, but further examination reveals Fitzgerald's masterful scrutiny of American society during the 1920s and the corruption of the American dream. 2 About the Author F. Scott Fitzgerald:

     Fitzgerald was born in 1896 in St. Paul, Minnesota, and died in 1940. One of the greatest American writers of the 20th Century, Fitzgerald was the literary spokesman of the jazz age, having written about people whose lives resembled his own. He and his wife, Zelda, lived a celebrated life, glittering and dissipated, in New York City and the French Riviera, but his later years were plagued by financial worries and his wife's insanity. Fitzgerald's novels include: This Side of Paradise (1920), The Beautiful and Damned (1922),The Great Gatsby (1922),Tender Is the Night (1934),The Last Tycoon (1941).He also published four short-story collections.

II. The Symbolism in The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald uses many symbolic devices to convey the thoughts and motifs of the 1920s in The Great Gatsby. The symbolism is seen in the green light on Daisy's dock, the billboard on the side of the highway, the cars, the library in Gatsby's house, and Daisy's appearance, etc. 1. Different colors used by the author to develop this love story gradually in front of us:

A. Light and Dark: Light colors represent dreams or goals. Gatsby follows the pure light of the grail. Gatsby is reintroduced to Daisy on a dewy bright morning. Dark colors are the realities of Gatsby's dream-like life. The Valley of Ashes is the stark opposition to East and West Egg. All of Gatsby's parties are held at night and are bright with a false light.

B. Green: Green represents a promise. The crisp fresh grass Daisy crosses as she meets Gatsby offers a promise that turns out to be an illusion since she never commits herself to Gatsby. Daisy's green light at the end of her dock is a goal Gatsby tries to reach but is never fully attainable. C. Yellow: Yellow symbolizes the corruption and death in The Great Gatsby. Gatsby's yellow car is the murder weapon used to kill Myrtle. The rich, flaky women at Gatsby's party swing their yellow gowns wildly as the drink and flirt and cause problems. Dr. T. J. Eckleburg wears yellow spectacles to block America from seeing what the nation has actually become. Imprisoned by the cold clutches of money and materialism, Gatsby works diligently to be accepted within higher society. Yellow images are seen in numerous of Gatsby's possessions: The image of "scampering like a brisk yellow bug to meet all trains", the corruption and superficiality of material goods is represented in the vehicle. Not only does Gatsby's hunger for money consume him, but also the same general greed lures many other of the guests that are present at his parties. The vivid, carefree brightness of the color yellow naturally attracts the attention of many. Objects associated with Gatsby's parties are for this reason illustrated in yellow. D. White: White usually symbolizes purity. Gatsby lives in a great white mansion and wears white or pink suits, representing his innocence and pure heart. The color white is also used by Fitzgerald to describe Daisy's superficiality. White is a symbol of purity and innocence, and Daisy first appears to be pure. Daisy itself has pure white petals but a center, or heart of yellow. Daisy herself seems pure and innocent, but her heart is not...
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