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Symbols and Imagery in F. Scott Ftizgerald's The Great Gatsby

Decent Essays
F. Scott Fitzgerald is known for his use of symbols and imagery throughout The Great Gatsby to illustrate his many ideas and themes. The green light is a symbol that seems to pervade the novel, taking on many meanings. The image of the green light is presented in Chapter 1, as Gatsby extended his arms to the “single green light” at Daisy’s dock as if it were some sort of religious icon. Jordan also confirms this sense of idolization when she says that “Gatsby bought [his] house so that Daisy would be just across the bay,” suggesting his obsessive devotion to Daisy (77). As shown in Chapter 9, the green light can also be interpreted as a symbol of growth. Near the end of the novel, Fitzgerald illustrates Daisy’s dock transforming into the…show more content…
In the novel, Fitzgerald manages to criticize the Jazz age society with the use of imagery. Gatsby views his car, a flamboyant Rolls-Royce, as a display of his wealth; however its “rich cream color,” “swollen in its monstrous length,” and “terraced with a labyrinth of windshields,” makes the automobile seem outrageous rather than stunning and impressive (64). However, Gatsby’s automobile transforms into a death car when in the hands of Daisy, as she murders Myrtle Wilson. Similarly, Wilson’s garage having only a “dust-covered wreck of a Ford,” characterizes Wilson himself in the Valley of ashes (25). Additionally, the seemingly “violent” car accident at Gatsby’s party in Chapter 3 foreshadows Myrtle’s death in Chapter 7. Fitzgerald’s use of cars assists in personifying Gatsby’s tendency to be excessive and tasteless, Daisy’s cruel insensitivity, and Wilson’s misery and lifelessness. Fitzgerald’s vivid description of various settings is not only used to enrich the novel, but also to criticize American society of the 1920’s. Nick states that behind New York’s “wild promise of all the mystery and beauty of the world” lies corruption and vulgarity, as “small” rooms are tastelessly furnished with ostentatious furniture (68). As seen in Chapter 2, the setting of New York itself is where Tom strikes Myrtle and “[breaks] her nose with his open hand”. This not only reveals the imprudence of the upper class, but also their disposition to “smash things up”. Also, the
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