The book is full of different symbolism examples that are typical for American literature of the 20th century, but also unique for Fitzgerald.
Most of the critics agree that any analysis of the examples of symbolism should start with the interpretations of the American dream concept. The protagonist of the book is pursuing his craziest dreams. He is a child from a poor family who dreams of money and the colors it brings to one’s life. This dream did indeed come true for him.
But Jay paid a lot for his success. This is where the decline of the American dream concept is especially noticeable. It wasn’t the honest ways that brought him there. Education from a top school, perfect war record, and pure love for a girl wasn’t going to make it. In order to enter into the upper class society, Gatsby did different things, including running a shadow business.
The American dream in The Great Gatsby, particularly for the protagonist was simply to be worthy of the woman he loved. That’s what the Green Light at the end of the lake is for – a hope for being happy in the future. The money was a goal but also a tool to achieve the dream of marrying Daisy.
While love isn’t one of the major meaningful symbols of the book, the social standards of that time are. For Gatsby it wasn’t enough to love the girl and receive love in return: Daisy couldn’t marry a man of a lower class. The Valley of Ashes between West Egg and The Big Apple also signified the gap between the two lovers. In the end, the reader is still left wondering if Daisy would be as impressed with her long-forgotten lover if he appeared in front of her being the same poor officer that he used to be?
Other symbols in The Great Gatsby book include infidelity and weakness of the characters. Finally, one of the more subtle but key components of symbolism in The Great Gatsby is the fickleness of happiness. After finally acquiring everything he wanted, Gatsby doesn’t realize that his current situation is temporary. Even when Daisy almost agreed to leave her husband, she is still more impressed by his wealth than by his personality. The first doubt planted by her husband about the origins of Gatsby’s wealth breaks her confidence.
Once he loses the old dream forever, Gatsby is left with nothing to wish for. The author remarks that his character paid too much for the dream that was isolated and didn’t have a chance to grow, develop, or transform into something new. It is like Gatsby’s aspirations were stuck in time and space and the writer had no choice but to kill his protagonist once they were gone.