Symbols and Symbolism in The Great Gatsby Essay

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Symbolism in The Great Gatsby

Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby has more relevance in today’s society than it did when it was written. With the recent societal trend that emphasizes lack of morals and material wealth over a meaningful existence, Fitzgerald’s message really hits home. Which is more important - money or love? Social status or being true to oneself? Fitzgerald uses metaphor and symbols to great effect in order to illustrate what can happen when the pursuit of happiness becomes warped (by American ideals) into the pursuit of money.

One of the major symbols in the novel is the color green. Green represents the hopes and dreams of people striving to accomplish the American dream of wealth and glory.
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The valley of ashes represents the byproduct of a nation obsessed with money. It is filled with the gray industrial ashes of the factories that helped to catapult dreamers to the top of the world. It also symbolizes the lower class. The people living in the towns nearby are described as gray and solemn. They are washed up because they were unable to accomplish their goals and fulfill the American dream. Wilson, for example, is described as someone with "an ashen, dust veiled suit" and "pale hair." The ash heap is described as a place "where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills." As those ashes pile up, they bury the hopes of people seeking the American dream.

The towns of East and West Egg are also symbolic. The people of East Egg represent those who already have wealth from inheritance. The people of West Egg represent those people who have gained their wealth through hard work and business. Gatsby has lots of money but he will always be "subtly incompatible" with the affluent society of East Egg. East Egg also represents old money and the east coast, whereas West Egg represents new money and the west coast. Throughout the novel, characters openly rebuke the west. For example, early in the novel Nick says, "Oh, I'll stay in the East, don't you worry."

The weather is another symbol that is used primarily for the purpose of setting the general mood of the book. Moments of death
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