Symbols in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald Essay

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The Great Gatsby is one of the most read pieces of literature throughout the current modern Western world. High school kids all across the globe must learn and read it as part of their curriculum. One of the aspects that makes this novel so notable is that Fitzgerald, at no point in the story, needs to convey to his audience the theme of his novel directly. The main points of his novel are brought out by the powerful symbols he infuses in the book. Not only does he use them to convey his theme, but also ties them in to the rest of the story. Every aspect of this book is affected by the presence of one of his symbols. Through the use of the green light, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg, and the Valley of the Ashes as symbols, …show more content…
Foremost, however, this light greatly influences the characterization of Gatsby. In Chapter 1, when Gatsby reaches for the light, the reader becomes confused and does not know what to make of this strange man oddly extending his arms while no one is around. After understanding Gatsby’s past, though, and knowing what it is he is reaching for, the reader can deduce much about Gatsby’s character from this action. By reaching out for his dream, Gatsby shows his determination to win Daisy back; this solitary motion demonstrates his level of commitment to her. After realizing this, the reader can also begin to associate more of Gatsby’s actions, such as his gain of wealth, with the American dream because it is understood that the quest for Daisy is closely tied in with this theme (21). After this event with Gatsby, Fitzgerald chooses to focus on another peculiar object, Doctor T.J. Eckleburg’s eyes. It is this unusual amount of attention given to such a solitary entity that alerts the reader that a deeper meaning may exist than what the author expresses. Another major symbol in this novel is the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. These are a pair of spectacles painted on an old billboard in the Valley of Ashes. The significant aspect is that this symbol only has meaning when other characters instill it with meaning. The eyes represent a higher power looking over the
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