11 November 2014
The American Dream is considered by many Americans as the discovery of happiness. However, by the 1920s, this dream has become into only a desire for wealth, even if the actions necessary are illegal. As a matter of fact, F. Scott Fitzgerald did not us the words “American Dream” throughout his world-acclaimed the novel, The Great Gatsby, but it is apparent that he shows the impossibility of achieving happiness in the American Dream. Through symbols, Fitzgerald proves how the original idea of American Dream is slowly decaying. The novel shows that the American Dream is fading away from happiness to only wealth through the use of many symbols, especially the Valley of Ashes, the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, and the green light at the end of Daisy and Tom’s dock.
The Valley of Ashes represents the poverty and hopelessness in America. “This is a valley of ashes – a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of ash-grey men, who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air. Occasionally a line of grey cars crawls along an invisible track, gives out a ghastly creak, and comes to rest, and immediately the ash-grey men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an impenetrable cloud” (Fitzgerald, 23). The Valley of Ashes most commonly inhabited people of lower class, clarifying how the American Dream is incredibly difficult to achieve. Myrtle dying in the Valley of Ashes is significant because, although she wished to make herself fit in to a higher class, it would be impossible to do so completely. As she was escaping, she got hit by the car. Another example of how the American Dream is decaying in the novel is when Tom visits the Valley of Ashes to confront Wilson. A gap between the rich and the poor is quickly evident, resulting in an awkward relationship between the two classes. The rich often look on the poor mainly due to their differences in their status in society. The ashes are symbols of dead, with more self-centered and arrogant people arising from them. Every generation, the ashes pile distorting the American Dream further.
Another symbol within this novel is the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg. The eyes imply the loss of the spiritual thought of the American Dream. The entire purpose of the American Dream, which is to create happiness, becomes replaced with creating money. Therefore, the eyes further symbolize the growing of businesses and economic prosperity of America. However, not all of it was legal, and it is discovered when Gatsby and Nick are going to New York, and Nick questions Wolfshiem, and Gatsby replies, "Meyer Wolfsheim? No, he's a gambler. He's the man who fixed the World's Series back in 1919" (112). Throughout the 1920s, life became all about making money and doing anything possible. Tom Buchanan essentially can be referred as the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, although he is a successful man who was able to provide wealth for him and his “family,” not all of the characters recognizes his unmoral personality. It also represents corruption of America’s people. The eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg stare at the main characters as they make their way into New York City. It saw Tom and his affair, it saw Gatsby driving with Nick to meet Wolfshiem, and Daisy, influenced by Gatsby, goes to New York to explore new ideas. One character who develops a theory to the eyes is Wilson. He relates the eyes of God to eyes of the glasses. When Wilson discovers the affair of his wife, he says “God knows what you’ve been doing, everything you’ve been doing. You may fool me, but you can’t fool God”(159).
The green light at the end of Daisy’s dock is a significant symbol within the book. To Gatsby, the green light represents his dream, which is Daisy. According to Gatsby, Daisy is the American dream. The green light is