Allegory in the movie- “The Great Gatsby. ” The movie – The Great Gatsby, produced in 1974 and is based on the Novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald written in 1925 – is an allegory of the American dream. The story in many ways shows the life of Americans in reference to the American dream and how it is difficult to attain the dream. An allegory is a setting, object, story, colors or a picture that when interpreted can reveal hidden meanings. It is difficult to distinguish allegory from symbolism and metaphors.
Metaphors use words or phrases, while Symbolism generally refers to the use of symbols in literature to pass ideas and qualities. An object, word, phrase, action or event can be used as symbols to represent something else which brings out a completely deeper meaning and which is more significant. To develop symbolism artists must use and utilize other figures of speech such as metaphors, similes and allegory as tools. It is therefore important to note that allegory brings out symbolism.
The following objects, scenes, people, colors and pictures have been used in the movie to bring out aspects of the American dream. There are several parties in this movie. Most of the parties are held at Gatsby house. The first party that happens in the movie is that which happens at Tom’s house. Tom and his wife Daisy are shown to live the perfect American dream. However, this does not live long since Tom leaves the party to attend to his mistress’ call. This shows that Tom was not satisfied with his marriage, or rather with the American dream since if he was, he could not have the need to have a mistress.
This can also be said to be true to Daisy since she is later reunited with Gatsby her first lover. In the movie, Gatsby (the person the movie is named after) throws excessive parties. These parties are shown to be extravagant in nature and it is more of show off. And the reason why he throws these parties is to get the attention of Daisy, a young woman whom every man desired. This brings into question the real essence of the American dream. Is it for the well being of America or is it a matter of show off?
During, one of Nick’s attendance to these parties he observes that most women in the party are fighting with their husbands while most of the men are not satisfied with their marriage, nonetheless even though Gatsby parties are filled with guests, at his burial only a handful of people appear. This situation emphasizes the hollowness of the whole American dream. Another object used in the movie is cars. Gatsby is seen to own an expensive car and Tom is selling one of his cars, to a man who lives in the valley of ashes.
How does this explain the American dream? The American dream promises people prosperous lives and riches. It involves people trying to better their status and social class by amassing wealth. With people trying to raise their status, came the significance of cars. Cars signified status and wealth. Fitzgerald uses cars to show the materialistic nature of the American dream. Later in the movie, Myrtle is killed by a car, a car which she believes was being driven by Tom. Tom is her ticket to leaving the valley of ashes or rather to attain the American dream.
This shows a conflict of the American dream since it is the ultimate American dream which kills Myrtle. One, after watching the movie, can not help but ask why many of the characters in the movie have been given characterization as people of poor character. The most prominent vice being cheating. Nearly every character is cheating on another or using dubious means to become successful. The cheating that the characters uphold, is an allegory of the hollowness of the American dream which is signified by the shallowness of their characters.
In the movie, Tom is bored by his marriage and seeks the company of a mistress (Myrtle), Myrtle on the other hand uses Tom to escape the valley of ashes and as her ticket to the American dream of excessive living, Gatsby wants to take Daisy from Tom in order to satisfy his American dream, while Daisy only wants the attention Tom has been denying her. This further brings confusion on what really is the American dream because what one person wants, another person does not and yet they result to cheating in order to live the American dream.
Is the American dream a lie too? Another allegory that Fitzgerald uses, is the valley of ashes. It is a barren, ashen, where only ashes grow, and the people who live there are described as grey. The valley of ashes shows the other side of the American dream, it is inhabited by people of a social lower class such as Myrtle and originally Gatsby. Myrtle dies without living this place and she dies believing that she was killed by Tom, who is supposed to be her ticket in leaving this abject place.
This is an allegory of how difficult it is to attain the American dream. The fact that the valley is created by industrial pollution,(by product of capitalism), further distorts the American dream. Nonetheless this valley can be viewed as a commentary of the American dream, the valley is barren, ashen, grey and all the immorality, crime and all manner of infidelity happens here. Fitzgerald has also used a billboard in this movie, this billboard is duped as the Eyes of T. J. Eckleburg. This billboard was created by an optician who wanted to advertise his work.
The eyes of T. J. Eckleburg are situated where they look directly down to the valley of the ashes, the frowning eyes seem to suggest that the American dream is just another dream, since only some people have made it to wealth. The eyes looking down on the valley of ashes is more of a direction on which angle a person should judge the American dream, that is, look at the many poor people. These eyes by frowning on the Valley of the ashes all day long make as realize the negative side of the American dream.
Fitzgerald used a number of colors including yellow and blue, but it is the color of the greenlight which particularly catches the attention of the viewer. It is important to note that green traffic lights began being installed in the 1920s, the period in which this story is set. At the end of Daisy’s dock is the green light, this greenlight represents the desire Gratsby has to own Daisy. Owning Daisy would have meant the achievement of the American dream. Although the dream seems too near to reach, Gratsby dies without having Daisy.
This shows the unattainability of the American dream and the bad illusion that the American dream is near reach. In conclusion, by using parties, the valley of ashes, eyes of TJ. Eckleburg, the greenlight and cars, Fitzgerald has clearly brought out the aspect of the American dream. This story captures the American dream as unattainable, and to only exist in the minds of people. To understand this better, one should consider the period in which this story is set. It is set at a period after world war one when the promise of the American dream was very strong.