Gatby : Themes And Symbolism In The Great Gatsby

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The Great Gatsby was written to represent the rise and fall of the American Dream. The author places the rich and wealthy lifestyle on a high pedestal while he demonstrates the dramatic consequences of moral and social decay amongst the characters. As each defining moment is uncovered, the American Dream gradually crumbles in the selfish hands of those who remain ignorant to anything else in the world. Symbols play a huge role in The Great Gatsby. They add to the understanding we take from the novel. A symbol is an object, character, figure or colour that is used to represent an abstract idea or concept. Fitzgerald uses many symbols throughout the novel to highlight key ideas; some are clearer than others, yet all are effective. Most novels have at least one symbol that represents the thematic thrust of the work, however, in The Great Gatsby, there are many of these symbols. Characters are used to highlight ideas. Places are used to add contrast. The significance of the many symbolic elements in The Great Gatsby plays a role in revealing the underlying themes of the American Dream, the ongoing clash between love and wealth and moral destruction caused by the characters. The author uses the Valley of Ashes, a small town between the West Egg and New York City, to symbolize the moral and social decay produced by the pursuit of wealth without thought for others. The Valley of Ashes is: A fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air. (23) It symbolizes a morally stripped place where materialistic and false individuals can live in harmony. The unfortunate events that happen in the Valley of Ashes, including Gatsby's demise, the affair between Tom and Myrtle and Myrtle's accidental death, represent the severe consequences originating from the failed attempts at achieving the American Dream. As the characters go through the Valley of Ashes to reach somewhere else, they are compelled to belittle themselves to a lower social status, as seen when Tom engages in an affair with Myrtle, a poor-stricken

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