The Great Gatsby: Symbols and Themes

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The Great Gatsby, known as one of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most memorable pieces of literature, is a novel that accurately portrays life in the Twenties. It is a love story that is made into a tragedy through the corrupt ways of humanity during that time period, and is able to depict the superficiality of the modernized world in a way that could never be duplicated. However, if the reader looks more closely at this book, he or she will find that there are symbols and themes throughout the story. These symbols and themes are used both to deepen the meaning of the book and to show the decline of society during the Roaring Twenties. A symbol is something that represents something else, whether by association or metaphorical meaning. Symbolism is a literary device that is used throughout The Great Gatsby, and when observed prove to deepen the meaning of the story. The very book is a symbol of the Twenties, giving the story a more powerful impact on the reader. Some of the main symbols used in this book are the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock, the wasteland, and the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg. Symbols such as these come in many variations with many different meanings; however, they all share the same melancholy tone in the end. The green light at the end of Daisy’s dock is symbolic of many things. Foremost, however, is Gatsby’s dream for a future with Daisy. In the last chapter of the book, finding Daisy is compared with the first finding of America. The color green is symbolic of hope, promise, and renewal. This can be applied to the future of America and to Gatsby’s dream to be with Daisy. However, in the end, Gatsby’s hope is lost and the green light becomes nothing more than a light at the end of a dock (Millet). In the second chapter of the story, Fitzgerald introduces the wasteland, which is also known as the valley of ashes. This valley symbolizes the

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