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The Great Gatsby is considered a masterpiece full of controversy about the 1920’s life style. Fitzgerald uses symbolism to express in a more detailed way this life style of carelessness and corruption. These symbols are shown through out the characters’ actions and thoughts as well as in the setting created by the author’s imagination to stress a point to be caught by the reader’s attention. These symbols are used to elaborate the themes in The Great Gatsby. Social status, one of Fitzgerald’s themes is represented by the separate settings of the novel.
The new rich or “the less fashionable” people like Gatsby and Nick lived in West Egg. Nick lived in “an eye-sore” of a house between two mansions letting us know that he was between the rich but he wasn’t rich. Gatsby had a colossal mansion with a swimming pool and a tower “spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy”. They were both outsiders from the world of the rich. On the other hand, the Buchanans lived across the bay in the East Egg where the old rich, the people who had money all their life and had never worked for it, lived.
The Buchanans own ” a cheerful red and white Georgian Colonial mansion overlooking the bay”. The difference between the houses and the place they lived symbolizes their social position. The old wealthy, new wealthy and not even wealthy were part of the theme of social status. The “green light” at the end of Daisy’s dock is another symbol used by Fitzgerald to express definite possibilities. The green light has true feeling for Gatsby because it represents his hopes and dreams of Daisy Buchanan.
At night, Nick sees Gatsby looking at the sea, stretching his arms towards the light and trembling. But for Nick that light was just a solitary green light, it had no meaning. The moment that Daisy becomes his, that green light cease to exist because she has become his and Gatsby feels that he has accomplished his dream. Gatsby states that the green light gives him a warm feeling inside of himself, therefore we can say that the green light also symbolizes Gatsby’s life on “go”.
In the valley of ashes, where the Wilson’s lived, represented death because of the saying “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”. Everything was covered in ashes. There we can see the eyes of Dr. T. J. Echleburg. They were “blue and gigantic, their retinas are one yard high, they look out of no face but instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose”. The eyes of Dr. T. J. Echleburg represent God’s eyes. When Myrtle went off with Tom, he saw. When Myrtle was killed by Daisy, he saw. When something happened he saw. He knew all, he saw all.
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