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American Literature


TheAmerican Dream entails the discovery of happiness through the pursuitof activities aimed at improving the lives of the people. However, inthe 1920s, the dream became perverted into the desire for wealththrough any means necessary where people believed that money wouldfacilitate the acquisition of happiness. The Great Gatsby depicts atale of the distinct development of emotions and symbols that occurthrough a cast of characters who lived in the fictional town of WestEgg in the summer of 1922. The story mainly focuses on the role of ayoung and peculiar millionaire, Jay Gatsby, based on his romanticpassion and obsession for Daisy Buchanan. It also provides a symbolicmeditation of the events that took place during the 1920sparticularly in the collapse of the American dream in an era ofextraordinary prosperity. However, the author brings out the elementof the decadence of social and moral values that occurred in the1920s through the overarching cynicism, greed and trivial pursuit ofpleasure. Nevertheless, in the Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald uses imagery,symbolism, and characterization to create the themes of love andhope.


Symbolismand Characterization

Symbolismrefers to the use of signs, figures, and icons in providing asymbolic meaning of something abstract by an existing object. In thenovel, Fitzgerald uses colors in symbolizing people’s innerfeelings and thoughts. For instance, the author uses green and whitecolors in depicting the true feelings of the characters and theirpersona. The use of these colors conveys a deeper message to thereaders through helping them understand the characters’ actualcharacters. The green color in the novel symbolizes the differentchoices Jay Gatsby makes in his lifetime in that it brings outessential elements themes such as hope, healing, luck and greed. Forinstance, “He stretched out his arm towards the dark water in acurious way, and as far as I was from him I could have sworn he wastrembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward and distinguished nothinga single green light, minute and faraway, that might have been theend of a dock.” (Froehlich, 213). The green light mentioned byDaisy represents Gatsby’s hope in his pursuit of happiness. Hestretched his hand towards the dark water, and all Daisy could seewas a green light indicating that despite the challenges betweenthem, Gatsby remained hopeful that they would overcome. Additionally,the green light represents Daisy, Gatsby’s lifelong pursuit, anddream. He believes that the main reason why Daisy broke up theirengagement and married Tom entails the fact that Gatsby was poor.Therefore, he hopes to win her back through earning enough money anddespite the fact that the light seems minute, Gatsby believes that ifhe puts in more effort, he could touch it, hold his hope and realizehis dream (Froehlich, 213). Additionally, the green light brings outthe theme of love in that Gatsby confesses his affection to Daisyafter amassing his wealth. “You always have a green light thatburns all night at the end of your dock.” (Froehlich, 213). Theessence of this quote entails depiction of Gatsby’s affection forDaisy that occurred after he showed her the wealth he accumulatedwith the aim of winning her back from Tom.

Mostimportantly, the white color in the novel focuses mainly on Daisywith the goal of representing beauty, nobleness, and purity.Throughout the book, Daisy wears white garments her walls arepainted white and possessed a white car. For instance, when she metGatsby for the first time, she wore a white dress. “The windowswere ajar, and gleaming white against the fresh grass outside and abreeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out ofthe other like pale flags.” Similarly, her name, Daisy, representsa white flower thus indicating her purity, innocence, andflawlessness (Kim and In S, 35). These aspects bring out the theme oflove as they depict Gatsby’s infatuation for Daisy based on herappearance and regards her as a pure beauty and his American Dream.On the other hand, the white color in the novel brings about adepiction of the loss of hope through the symbolization ofselfishness, superficiality, ruthlessness among others. Thedescription of Daisy with the white color indicates that regardlessof beautiful appearance, she lives a shallow, cold and hollow life.These illustrations occur through the depiction that Daisy’s lifeentails luxurious ambitions. For instance, the authors show Daisywondering about her life, “What will we do with ourselves thisafternoon, and the day after that, and the next thirty years?” (Kimand In S, 35). These aspects bring about the representation of ahollow and superficial upper-class life in the Jazz Age. It alsoemphasizes on the lack of hope in Gatsby’s part which aftersacrificing his life, wealth, and passion for Daisy, she proceeds totravel with her husband.

Additionally,symbolism in the novel facilitates the representation of thecharacter’s feelings and attitudes with the aim of bringing outspecific themes. For instance, the yellow color indicates Gatsby’souter self through his intentions to show others. The yellow colorsymbolizes materialistic possessions such as gold as well as a highsocial status. The use of these colors exemplifies the theme of loveand hope notably through the application by characters in creating anaccurate image. For instance, the subject of hope appears when Gatsbychooses the yellow color in decorating himself and his house with theaim of showing off that he belongs to the society of rich people(Neha, 371). The use of the yellow color brings out these themesthrough Gatsby’s character where he engages himself in earninglarge amounts of money in the hope to win Daisy’s love back.Contrastingly, the author employs the blue color to symbolizeloneliness, tranquility, and fantasies. Most importantly, the bluecolor depicts Gatsby’s sadness and sorrow through the descriptionof his garden. For instance, in the eighth and ninth chapter of thebook, phrases such as “the blue leaves” and “the blue lawn”illustrate Gatsby’s loneliness in his heart. These elements bringout the theme of love especially when Gatsby hosts lavish parties inthe blue garden with the aim of alluring Daisy. Unfortunately, heconsistently fails to win her love back and remains devastatedregardless of his actions (Neha, 371).


Theauthor uses imagery in creating a significant depiction of thecharacters, their behavior, the surroundings and most importantlytheir feelings and attitudes. The use of imagery focuses on theformation of figures and pictorial representations in the reader`smind with the aim of envisioning the events taking place at the time.For instance, “It was a rich cream color, bright and there in itsmonstrous length with triumphant hat-boxes and supper-boxes andtoolboxes and terraced with a labyrinth of windshields that mirroreda dozen suns.” (Fitzgerald, 33). The author describes theappearance of Gatsby’s vehicle, a Rolls-Royce, through the use ofwords that help the help the reader to envision it. However, theessence of the description entails illustrating the significance ofthe yellow color during the time in bringing out the theme of loveand hope. For instance, in describing the color and appearance of thecar, the reader visualizes how it would attract Daisy through thedisplay of Gatsby’s wealthy status. Contrastingly, the authorutilizes imagery in depicting hopelessness in the achievement of theAmerican Dream as well as love. “This is a valley of ashes, afantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills andgrotesque gardens where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneysand rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, ofash-grey men, who move dimly and already crumbling through thepowdery air,” (Fitzgerald, 26). The essence of the quote entailsthe illustration of disillusionment and represents moral decay,spiritual emptiness, and death. For instance, Gatsby sought to winDaisy’s love back despite the fact that he knew she was married toTom. The theme of love appears through his intentions to win Daisyback, but they also indicate decadence of moral values as Gatsby didnot respect her marriage to Tom.

Conclusively,“The Great Gatsby” by Fitzgerald brings about significant themesportrayed through the use of essential factors such as imagery,symbolism, and characterization. Most importantly, characterizationsilluminate these issues through focusing on two principal actors whoseem to be entangled in different worlds but share a common factor(Martell, 56). On the one hand, Daisy appears as a character whopursues luxury in the achievement of her goals. On the other hand,Gatsby appears as a character full of hope in achieving his AmericanDream as well as winning back his love. Nevertheless, the eventstaking place throughout the story involve symbols and imagery whichfacilitate in creating a picture of the plot. The symbols allow thereader to familiarize with the surrounding and possibly understandwhy these core elements have been used.


Fitzgerald,F S.&nbspTheGreat Gatsby.Scribner Paperback Fiction,&nbsp1995.

Froehlic,Maggie&nbspG. &quotGatsby`s Mentors: Queer Relations between Loveand Money in&nbsptheGreat Gatsby.&quot&nbspTheJournal of Men`s Studies,vol.&nbsp19, no.&nbsp3,&nbsp2011, pp.&nbsp209-226.

Kim,Se&nbspH., and In&nbspS. Choi. &quotA Convergent Study onLiterature and Film through the Color Symbolism in the GreatGatsby.&quot&nbspKOREASCIENCE &amp ART FORUM,vol.&nbsp22,&nbsp2015, p.&nbsp35.

Martell,and Vernon. &quot“Of Great Gabasidy”: Joseph Conrad`s&nbspLordJim&nbspandF. Scott Fitzgerald`s&nbsptheGreat Gatsby.&quot&nbspJournalof Modern Literature,vol.&nbsp38, no.&nbsp3,&nbsp2015, p.&nbsp56.

Neha,Neha. &quotDecline of Hero Jay Gatsby in F. Scott. Fitzgerald: TheGreat Gatsby.&quot&nbspIJAR,vol.&nbsp3, no.&nbsp8,&nbsp2011, pp.&nbsp371-372.