Symbolism is an important device used to represent or express qualities or ideas in literature. F. Scott Fitzgerald uses symbolism to convey deeper meanings in The Great Gatsby. For example, different objects and colors are used to symbolize traits and personalities for characters in the novel. There is a great variety of symbols used to demonstrate the society of the sass’s, Gatsby hopes, and the extravagant life of the rich. The Valley of Ashes can be used to symbolize the 1920 society. Located between West Egg and New
York, it is a desolate industrial wasteland full of garbage, ashes, and soot. The Valley Of Ashes symbolizes the ruin and poverty Of the people; they suffer in the Valley of Ashes because of the actions of the rich who are careless. Tom’s behavior and attitude towards George shows how the rich shunned the poor because of the differences in their social economic status. It also conveys the moral and social decay, along with the corruption in the society that comes with the lavish and careless lifestyles Of the rich during the 1 sass’s. The airbag and ashes represent poverty and hopelessness.
The poor such as Myrtle and George live in the Valley of Ashes wishing to leave but cannot. They try to achieve the American Dream but fail and are stuck in the same poor social Status. The ashes pile higher and higher each generation making the American dream farther to achieve. The Valley of Ashes shows the deterioration of morals and the impossible reality American Dream. The green light at the end of Daisy dock is a symbol of hope and dreams. The green light is initially mentioned in the first chapter as the first symbol in the vole. He stretched out his arms towards the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward – and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock. ” (16) We see Gatsby reaching out towards a green light as if he is worshipping and trembling in awe of it. We find out the green light is symbol of Gatsby dream and final goal. The green light represents Daisy herself as if she is the final piece of a puzzle to complete Gatsby dream.
The color green is a symbol saying go, like a green traffic light, the light at the end of the dock is urging Gatsby to go and get Daisy. Being green, the light summons Gatsby to “go ahead”?to “run faster, stretch out our arms farther… The green light concludes the final chapter of the book with Nick’s final words, “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter?tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.
And then one fine morning? so we eat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. ” Nick’s words shows how Gatsby went against the current to reach the light, his dreams. The tensions and divisions in society are represented by the towns of East Egg and West Egg. While both cities symbolize wealth, the residents of the city acquired their money differently. The “new rich” live in West Egg while the “old rich” live in East Egg. West Egg represents new wealth, but is looked down upon by the Old rich. East Egg represents the Old rich who are considered high class and elegant.
Old money is believed to be more superior and of higher class compared to new money and this is clearly depicted between the social life in East and West Egg. East Egg can be seen as the land of promise and new beginnings while West Egg is the promise land or the final destination: we see this as Gatsby reaches out towards the green light in the West. The West Egg residents are more humble and have a purpose or goal in life; they are living out the American Dream. In contrast, East Egg residents are careless people who can get in trouble without thinking about the devastating damage they leave behind.
Furthermore, West Eager’s needed to climb the social pyramid to get wealth, while East Egger are born into wealth. While West Egg represents the people trying to live out the American Dream, it can easily turn into East Egg, the American Nightmare. Through symbolism, Fitzgerald conveys the yellow life of the rich, the gray life of the poor, and the struggles of the lives between them. In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald utilizes symbols to portray the American Dream. In conclusion, different symbols are used to convey Gatsby dream, the society of the poor, and the lifestyles of the rich.