Symbolism in the Great Gatsby Essay

Submitted By ChloeMaull1
Words: 1062
Pages: 5

Symbolism in the Great Gatsby
An important symbol in the great Gatsby is the use of cars. This novel heavily features parts of the American Dream. The American Dream is involved with people attempting to gain wealth and power. The cars that feature in the novel are all expensive and considered to be valued, all apart from Nick’s. This represents the futility of the American Dream and the materialistic views it held. Therefore, it can be said that the cars also reflect the personalities of their owners. Daisy, Tom and Gatsby are all very materialistic and their beliefs are that it is what you own that says the most about you and that possessions are the way to achieve your desires. Whereas, Nick is different. Nick believes that people are not shown by their possessions and that there is always more to the person than what is on show. It is also ironic that it is one of these more extravagant and wealthy cars that is involved with the conflict in where Myrtle was run over and killed. Myrtle believed that it was Tom who was driving the car and she saw Tom as her ‘ticket’ to the American Dream. Ironically, it is this desire for the American Dream that kills her and the fact that it is one of the wealthy cars that strikes her, show how this materialistic view is the way to self-destruction, ultimately showing the corruption of the American Dream.
Another symbol in the novel are the eyes of Dr T.J. Eckleburg. They sit on a billboard in the Valley of Ashes that were once and advertisement for the business of an optometrist. The billboard itself represents the commercialism of America. American life was all about making money as, to use an expression, ‘money talks’. Back then, a man’s success was measured in the money he owned rather than the type of person he may be morally. The billboard is neglected, shown in the quote, “But his eyes, dimmed little by many paintless days, under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground.” This shows how morals were forgotten in order to achieve greatness and the American Dream. This billboard also has many religious representations. Wilson says “And I said “God knows what you’ve been doing, everything you’ve been doing. You may fool me, but you can’t fool God!”” whilst studying the eyes of T.J Eckleburg suggesting they represent the eyes of God, looking down on all the characters, judging the American society. They look down on the Valley of Ashes, a wasteland. This suggests that God is looking down on what the American society has become, they have created a wasteland in the desire for the American dream. During the novel, characters are known for projecting meaning into objects where there is none and thus creating a materialistic America. The eyes of T.J. Eckleburg is another example of this as they appear to characters, like Wilson, as the eyes of God. The initials, T.J. are symbolic for Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson believed whole heartedly that any nation rooted in its agriculture economy cannot fail. The valley of ashes, of which the eyes of T.J Eckleburg look down on, were once expensive farmland but has now become this grey wasteland. This is symbolic, for the roaring twenties marked the beginning of what would turn to be the biggest financial crisis in American History. The billboard is of a symbol for Thomas Jefferson, looking over what remains of his agriculture society, in hopes one day man will return to avoid future tragedy as a nation, and in the story what had been revealed to be the characters.
A very important symbol is the green light. It is situated at the end of Daisy’s dock and serves as a point to aim at for Gatsby. It represents Gatsby’s dream and desire that is Daisy. The first time the green light is mentioned is the first time Nick sees Gatsby and so it is clear to Nick and the reader that the novel will feature Gatsby on his