Anna Domagala American Literature What role does a symbolism play in The Great Gatsby and how is it related to The American Dream

Anna Domagala
American Literature

What role does a symbolism play in The Great Gatsby and how is it related to The American Dream?

Pathos ofthe novelby FrancisScott Fitzgerald, underliesitsongoingpopularityoverhalf a century-a well-establishedpresence onschoolreadinglists, successiveadaptationsand interpretations ofcritics-this is due tothe tension betweenthe universaldesire to bebetter thanothers, andasa commonfascinationof thosewhostand out, or at leastattempt todo so. The story takes place in the early 20th century in New York City and the surrounding areas. It was a period of economic prosperity, Prohibition, the development of organized crime and the collapse of morality. The attempt to deal with the phenomenon of “The Great Gatsby” is accompanied by the question, whether the paradoxical voltage is the effect of characteristic for capitalism democratization of manners – that is, whether capitalism, which fetishize making money and possession of the property, at the same time refutes and supports the earlier order awards by deed and by birth.
The novel isfull ofsymbolism, which criticizesthe mentality ofthe peopleofthe upper classes. Thissymbolismrefersrepeatedlytogood and evil, while presenting the variouscharacters in the book. Symbolism is suchformationof fragmentsof the world presentedin the literary work(orelements of a workof art), whichindicates theimportance oftwo-plane, deliberateambiguity.What ispresenteddirectly, is adeeplyhidden andobscurecontentdirectedtoward themwiththe thoughtof the recipient.Deeper level ofsignificance issuggested, butinconclusive,soopensthe possibility of differentunderstandingsand interpretations.Substantialtruthseekingoutsidelayer ofsensual; what ispresenteddirectlyis a symbolof spiritual, beyond therealtruths. Pickof the symbol isa two-step: locatingawholeof a symbolic nature(character, event, situation, object)in the structure ofthe world presentedandrecognizeitsimportanceencrypted, assumingthe possibility of differentinterpretations andways of understanding. The book is the story amazingandmoving,whichgoesto the readersotoday,asnearlyninety yearsago.Filledwith symbols, commenting onthe contemporaryreality andthe social orderis also astoryof unrequitedlove,dreams andelusivenessof the American dreamofa perfectlife, full of happiness.
“The Great Gatsby” is a verytrivialandrepeatedfromcenturies story -manfightsover a woman, love entangledsomewherebetween the wheelsof expensive cars, clothes,large estates, huge amounts of money, a pinch of apparenthappiness,continuousrunningafterdreams, disappointments, and finally the spectacularmurderandlittlecrime. Witha soberapproach, the reader interprets the bookin this way. But one hasto strain mind, open eyesandthenit is hard tobelievethatthe enormity ofthe essentialtruths thatfirstwanted to conveythe writer, exceeds the size ofthe actualbookseveral times.
The narrator of “The Great Gatsby” is Nick Carraway, a young educated broker in Minnesota, which in New York acquires experience in the securities market. Has a stable, quiet operation, leads a simple life, and as stacked bachelor introducing the sophisticated’s West Egg, Long Island. Nick is kind, sympathetic and tolerant. He’s honest, but do not judge anybody, only observes and thus sociable cream loves to confide to him with their secrets. NickCarraway, the narrator supposedlyimpartial,butdefinitelysetagainst the wall,bendingtowardoneside of the conflictfrom the beginningassumes the role ofa spectatorof events,tellingreliablythroughoutthe course ofhistory, at the endalong with theescalation oftangledincidentsadoptsa moralizingattitude.
Roaring twenties of the twentieth century, the economic boom and full, temporary stabilization, just after the First World War intensify in people, especially those with high society, a sense of total debauchery. It is a time of new and controversial artists, jazz and champagne pouring in torrents. Chasing the big money and … great happiness, regardless of the costs. The biggest cities of Europe and the United States every evening resound bustle, laughter and music, takes flourishing cultural and bohemian comes the time. At the same timeit takesto customthaw. Pastmoral valuescease to matter, the public lost indecadenceand fallslower and lower. About money, trinketsand good, endlessfun.
Fitzgerald’s heroes, like his friendsfrom those daysarespoiled,cynical, greedy andwant towallow inan artificialsense ofglamour andhappiness.Alongwith the economicgrowth ofconsumerismborntightto the limit, where money, gold, diamonds, and alcoholseemto flowand dispersewithout end. Those characters are about thirty . Young men, heroes of the war, which meant that everything ever knew, their values and desires, turned to dust, and after returning home, euphoric triggered the need for excess and madness. Women who were waiting impatiently for the return of brides and loved ones become princesses surrounded by all luxuries. Such is the world depicted with all the details in “The Great Gatsby” and the company who accidentally meets Nick visiting his rich cousin, Daisy Buchanan. The content ofthe noveltransmitsmoral values??concerninggood and evilthroughextensivesymbolism.
“a single green light, minute and faraway, that might have been the end of a dock.”
“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning—
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. ”

Green lightis described as”minute and far away”, which makes it seemimpossibleto achieve.Itturns out to betrue forGatsby.The green light indicatesthewillingnessof society andthe seemingimpossibility of achievingmaterialisticAmerican Dream. Moreover, in the novel, it turns out that Gatsby desire for Daisy is also its pursuit of the past. Five years ago, when he first meets Daisy Gatsby and fall in love, Daisy was representative of status and wealth. She was the dream of all young men and Gatsby wanted to be worthy of her. She seemedtorepresentwhathe wanted. Sheshonelike silverin front of him, and he went toher,like a knightgoestowardshis lady. And as theAmericain which therewas no an absolutebarrierandman can becomewhat he wanted to,Daisygave himthe green lightfor further action.He only had to havethe money to buya car tojoin the movement. She hasto bean expression ofhis success.Itreinforces the ideathat thegreen lightisDaisy, which is his dream. Fitzgerladuses the metaphor oflight, in case he wantedto goin the direction ofthe green light, the first,Gatsbywill needmoneyto buy a car. And that isultimatelywhat he does. Heuses hiswealth torecoverDaisy.
The author usesthe Valley ofAshes, a small townbetweenWest Eggand New York, tosymbolize themoral and socialdegradationresulting from thedesire tobecome wealthy. Unfortunateevents that occurin the Valley ofAshes, including the death ofGatsby, things betweenTomandMyrtleandMyrtletragic death, pose seriousconsequences offailed attempts toachieve theAmerican Dream. Whenthe characterstravelthrough the Valley ofAshes, in order to getanywhere, they are forced toplay downto a lowersocial status, as you can see, whenTomengages inan affair withMyrtle, strickenwoman whomerelyprovidesanother form ofcomfort.
Colors in theGreat Gatsbyrevealreveredthe ideaof the American dreamandthe currentthematic elementswithin thecharactersanddestroyingthe lifethey lead. In the novel, the symbolismof colorsrevealsmore details about thepersonality ofthe characters andthe importance ofthe topicsthe American Dream. White is a different color symbolic in this novel. When the green only affects one character, white is broader impact on the characters. This color symbolizes one thing, elevation, but is in every form. For example, Daisy always wears white clothes, which gives it a naive and innocent look. It was as if she uses this as an excuse when she does something funny and childish as it seems that she does not know better. In fact, she knows what she’s doing, but she just does not care. She uses the image of the little princess and their money to hide her biased, snobbish and arrogant view of herself and her lifestyle. Whiteandshades areconnected to thepurity and innocence, which is provenwhenNickdescribes theinterior of the houseTomso clear. This particularcolor isassociatedwith childhood, with respect to purity,asFitzgeralddescribes thechildhoodof Jordan, as beautiful aswhite.
Yellow color, representing the fraud,is shownby the use ofthe author’simageryinThe Great Gatsby. At thebeginning of the novel, Daisy andJordanare wearing whitedresses,giving the impression ofpurity, but as thenovelprogresses,the color of theirclotheschanges toyellow,while theirmoralimpurities andimperfectionsare disclosed.Green, consideredthesymbol of thegreen lightsymbolizesthe future ofdesperation, the common attitudeof the American dream. In the first chapter, Gatsbyis seenstaring at theend ofDaisyBuchanandockwith one greenlight,combining theirdesireswithDaisyinaccessibleto the symbolicobject. The symbolism ofthe coloris not veryvisible, but can tell you a lotabout the history. In this case, the colors allows the readerto look at thechoicesof the hero andthe paththathe couldchooseformcompared to thosewhochoseother.
Weather in “The Great Gatsby” invariably corresponds to the emotional tone of narration and story. Gatsby and Daisy meet once again in the midst of torrential rain, which provides discomfort and melancholy. Their love wakes up when the sun begins to rise. On the other hand, Gatsby’s confrontation with Tom appears on the hottest days of summer, with the scorching sun. Gatsbyis killed byWilsononthe first day offall,and when hisbodyfloats on the water, the chillfelt in the airis a symbolicattempt to freeze thetime andto renewhis relationship withDaisy.
Another example of symbolism in The Great Gatsby is when Fitzgerald uses the cars of individual characters. Each time the hero uses the car , tries to escape from something in life, that he or she does not want to face. This is the way, which symbolizesthe humandesire to escapefrom the everyday, real lifeandthe mystery ofhuman nature. Itmaybeobservedin Tom’s affairwithMyrtle. The only timewhen theyareseen together, is when they are trying toleave the townin Tom’s car. This is theirway to escapefrom everyday lifeand spouses, therefore, they have tomeet insecret. Conflictarises, however, whenMyrtleisdeductedby the carand shedies. This isironic, because the womanis convincedthat Tomwas driving.Heis heronly chanceto achievethe American dream. But this desire kills her.
Cheatingrepresentsshallownessof life, thus indicatingto theemptinessof the American dream. This is also theevilof the whole book. The richhave everything, but stillare not happy.However,cheatingis not limited toonly therichclass,as it ispresent in allsocial strata. Allrelationshipsin the novelinclude thethemeand purpose. Tomis having an affair,to satisfy his boredomand escapefromhis lifeat home.
“I supposed the latest thing is to sit back and let Mr Nobody from Nowhere make love to your wife. Well if that’s the idea you can count me out . . . Nowadays people begin by sneering at family life and family institutions, and next they’ll throw everything overboard and have intermarriage between black and white.”
This quotation confirms the hypocrisy of Tom. He deceives himself because he speaks of morality of the family while his marriage is in danger. Like the American Dream. On the other hand, Myrtle uses Tom to escape from the Valley of Ashes and use it as her way into the American dream and prosperous life. Daisy cheating to get the attention of Tom, who neglected her. Finally Gatsby wants Daisy to meet their American Dream. However, he does not realize that he just wants to have Daisy, a picture that has about Daisy is a picture of a beautiful girl, with which every soldier dreams after the war.
The aforementioned symbols used in The Great Gatsby, combine themes throughout the novel. Characters by their moral and social corruption, create internal and external damage along the way to achieve the American Dream. The use of symbolism by the author allows to learn about the divergent attitudes for money, ability to pursue love in the flamboyant 20s and idealism of Gatsby throughout the story. Hiddenmeaning of manysymbolic elementsinThe Great Gatsbyplays arole in revealing the American Dream, the ongoingcollisionof love andwealth andsocial and moraldestruction- good and evil. American idealism is overshadowed by material goods and wealth. Gatsby ‘s dreams fall due to material wealth, which he had to before achieve. Therefore, man loses before he even starts, showing the ruthless nature of the terrible times in which he lived. At times when all hope is lost by the future, and the green light, so cherished by the Gatsby becomes nothing more than a simple light at the end of Daisy’s dock.
Never before the writer was able to describe the American dream as a direct route to the moral and spiritual degradation; and it was Fitzgerald, who was willing and ready to create a comprehensive system of literary symbols that eventually formed a unique vision of the American desire to aspirate for anything. While all of America uses the benefits of the long-awaited economic development, it gradually changed people’s attitude towards the money. But when the money ends up, and nothing more attracts to life on earth, the green light is no longer a reason to live, and it becomes an endless suffering.