“Anyhow he gives large parties and I like large parties. They're so intimate. At small parties there's never any privacy.” (Jordan Baker Pg. 50)
‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald 1926 is one of the most effective, classical pieces of American literature. This novel is set in the period of the Jazz age and explores the corruption of the ‘American Dream’. Throughout this novel, Fitzgerald intertwines many motifs and symbols in order to demonstrate this. These concepts are never explicitly shown through the novel however slowly characterized and illustrated within images and points of views of Fitzgerald’s characters. The symbol on the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg and the motif of parties will be further analysed below to see exactly how Fitzgerald uses these two elements to demonstrate the corruption of the ‘American Dream’ and how it is developed, identified and projected through his characters.
In “The Great Gatsby”, the billboard of T.J. Eckleburg located in the poor town of the ‘Valley of Ashes’ symbolizes a town in America with already corrupted dreams, portraying poverty and hopelessness between the wealth and fanciness of West Egg and New York Town. This neglected billboard of T.J. Eckleburg is an advertisement for an old optometry company.
“But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days, in the sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground.” (Pg. 26) This quote exemplifies the loss and hollowness of spiritual values and the American Dream. It can be translated and interpreted by the reader in the following way: While time passes on from this hollow period, people’s values grow dimmer and more abstract, meanwhile their connection with God and his values slowly fade away. This neglection of spiritual value is exposed when you see Gatsby and Myrtle bootleg simultaneously. You also cannot overlook how Fitzgerald bases the whole billboard around the colour of blue, representing the criticism and melancholy sentiment that saturates the air around.
“God sees everything” (Pg. 152). This is mumbled to no one in particular by George Wilson when he sees the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg on the morning after Myrtle’s death. T.J. Eckleburg, is the ultimate representation of the novel, being featured on the cover of the first published copy of “The Great Gatsby”. Fitzgerald gives Eckleburg the role of being a symbol and object rather than a character, it allows readers to believe that God seems to have abandoned America and its’ dreams. God leaves T.J. Eckleburg by himself, standing high up in the sky looking down with his now hollow eyes at the now hollow America. Every day he watches the people with such absurd morals drive past him yet nothing can be done about it. Seemingly that this whole American dream is just a massive lie, a shallow dream, a shameful passing in time.
In ‘The Great Gatsby’, Nick mainly attends three parties. These being the first party at Tom and Myrtle’s flat, Gatsby’s first party in chapter three and his second in chapter six. The second party being the introduction of corrupted values and dreams whilst the other two parties being examples of incidents created by those corrupt values.
“People were not invited – they went there…” (Pg. 43). This quote, narrated by Nick during the first party he attended at Gatsby’s (second party throughout the novel) demonstrates the values held by Americans during the time. Parties, especially Gatsby’s, is a motif and theme which surrounds and displays the typical ‘American Dream’. In this quote, Fitzgerald suggests to readers that the whole Dream within America has been gathered and combined into Gatsby’s party. Although guests assume that the Gatsby they had never seen was involved in crime, they still attend his parties nevertheless, simply because they were big and famous. “He was a German spy during the war…I’ll bet he killed a man…” (Pg. 45). This shows the irony as the dream lies within the shallowness of the guests. The