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Symbolic Significance

By KatArrJay Apr 18, 2011 955 Words
Select three inanimate objects in The Great Gatsby and explain their real and symbolic significance in the novel.

The Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald shows the romance, excitement, and drama in the 1920’s. The novel takes place following the First World War and how people enjoyed the roaring twenties. This novel focuses on important symbols in the book that describe each character vividly and emotionally. There are three inanimate objects in The Great Gatsby that are very important. One is the green light that Gatsby sees at the end of the novel and the color green of what it represents, the color white and yellow of how it portrays the characters and how it relates to a daisy, and the consumption of alcohol which in this time Prohibition was enforced. Fitzgerald describes these objects in the book by displaying different themes that impacted human life and the history of America. The first inanimate object that is important is the green light that is first mentioned at the end of Chapter 1 and when Gatsby sees it at the end of the novel. This green light shows the different meanings of each character experienced in seeing or portraying the green light. The green light represents Gatsby’s dreams and hopes to enjoy life and gain money. One other interpretation is the relationship between Gatsby and Daisy. It shows that Gatsby will never win back Daisy’s love or acceptance or any hope with her. She is out of his reach both physically and mentally. The color green can also be seen as jealously, Gatsby is jealous that Daisy is married with Tom Buchanan and he wishes that he was the one that she would love and cherish. One last interpretation of the green light is when Fitzgerald compares Gatsby’s green light to the “green breast of the new world” (pg. 115) which compares Gatsby’s dream of rediscovering Daisy to the explorer’s discovery of American and the promise of a new continent. It later on crushed Gatsby’s dream by being tarnished by his own material possessions, which also can be described that green is the color of money; this explains that Gatsby is constantly wanting money. Gatsby’s urge to gain this green money can also explain his greediness. The next objects are colors, which are white and yellow. The color white and yellow can distinguish Daisy (her name represents a flower) and her golden hair and white ‘mask’. Daisy looks simple and innocent; this is the color white, the color of purity. White describes the ‘old money’, in this case it is covered by something of such beauty and significance. Although Daisy seems innocent, her true identity is shown inside the flower, which is the color yellow. Yellow represents the wealth and fame between most characters in The Great Gatsby. One of them is Gatsby, his possessions are his wealth and so he tries to woo Daisy by showing her how much wealth he has. Daisy is mostly referred to ‘the golden girl’ so she is placed as the highest wealthy person, it is also said that yellow can be referred to one of the same meanings as the color green; greed. Yellow and white show great symbolism towards Daisy because how in the beginning of the novel she was kindhearted, but she acted violently by killing Myrtle with a car. This can also be defined as an oxymoron; pretty ugly, which refers to a daisy that had its petals pulled off and all that is left is the yellow ugly middle. The last inanimate symbol is the alcohol used in the book. Prohibition was enforced in the 1920’s because bad working habits corrupted industries. The alcohol can represent the ‘good life’ or the complete opposite, the ‘bad life’. In the novel, the 1920’s had a society that was mostly by materialistic views, such as obsession with money, pleasure, and outside appearances. In this case alcohol, added in with the attraction in which ignorance was played just to ‘escape’ from reality; similar like a dream to accept the world without the absolute knowledge. Nick Carraway’s character changed from a dull person to a fun profound type person from the consumption of alcohol. Nick claims that it was the second time that he gotten drunk even though to story takes place during the era of Prohibition in America. The alcohol shows great aggression toward the character Tom Buchanan and Gatsby. Tom Buchanan consumes large quantities of alcohol and abuses Myrtle in the process which causes distress between the two characters. Gatsby has a large connection toward alcohol, he spend a number of years obtaining alcohol so Daisy can approve of him from how much money he could and would make. Even though it did not specifically state Gatsby’s involvement with the attempt to obtain and drink alcohol in the 1920’s it leaves readers with questions. These three main inanimate objects distinguish the main concepts of theme, style, and the American History in The Great Gatsby. Foremost, the green light can resemble people here in America trying to live the American dream, so to speak. Greed and wealth is something everyone wants to gain in some point in time, it corrupts our spirit and well-being, which did a lot of damage towards the characters Daisy and Gatsby. The consumption in alcohol, even though Prohibition is not in America anymore, still contains aggressive behavior and the lack of focus that workers have. People now do not realize that we ourselves can relate to the symbols of The Great Gatsby. These interpretations of these symbols show vivid imagination and relation to American life in modern days.

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