2016:10-Effective writers use images that provoke us.
The Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald uses symbols and imagery to display a message of broken dreams and morals and explore the idea of obsession, materialism, and fantasy. Fitzgerald uses the corruption of the materialistic American Dream as we follow Jay Gatsby, a poor man striving to be rich.
Fitzgerald sets the Great Gatsby in the Roaring ’20s in America, a time of broken dreams and morals. He uses the time of the American prohibition to show the carelessness of people and the broken and the corruption of the American Dream. After the war in the 1920s, (Roaring 20’s or Jazz age) people were striving towards wealth and were living loose moral lives as that is what the American Dream was thought to be.
Gatsby was driven by a green light, one that lay awake in his presence. Nick’s (Daisy’s cousin) first sighting of Gatsby was when he came back from a dinner with Tom and Daisy (his cousin) he saw him on his dock. “I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward—and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been at the end of a dock.” Nick doesn’t understand why Gatsby does this but for Gatsby, it represents his hopes and desires. It is his future for which he reaches out in hopes of
Daisy,using it to guide through the darkness in hope for her for his American Dream. His hopes and ambitions all stringing from a single soul and this single soul his dream was ripped from his persona leaving James Gatz without Jay Gatsby, his dream left in the wake of the green light.
Gatsby’s opulent house which Nick noticed immediately along with his extravagant parties but even in having these fantastic, materialistic possessions and wealth Gatsby is still yearning for something just beyond his grasp as his trembling arms stretch out toward the green light. During Daisy’s first visit to Gatsby’s house. This is the first time Gatsby explicitly states that the green light belongs to Daisy’s house, revealing why Nick has seen him reaching out for it. Gatsby, believing that Daisy has been in love with him all these years as he has been with her, does not feel self-conscious admitting that he watches her dock all night long. He seems to feel that just by being in her presence, he has won her affection as well. His rich, extravagant lifestyle is tacky and over the top. She remarked that he knew nothing about living a rich life, that he had no understanding of how the wealthy live. He has no social grace like the aristocracy of the East Eggers and even though he may have just as much money they do not see him the same as he lacks their sense of social nuance and easy, aristocratic grace. As a result, they mock and despise him for being “new money.” As the division between East Egg and West Egg is made apparent. East Eggers however on the surface are respectable and admirable but are selfish and amoral in reality, This also is in common with West Eggers.
The hollowness of the upper class can be shown through the American Dream being referred to how wealthy you are which would attribute your social status and or power. Fitzgerald uses the sociology of wealth to show how newly minted millionaires in the 1920s differ from and relate to the old aristocracy of the country’s richest families. In the novel, West Egg and the people who live there represent the newly rich, while East Egg and its inhabitants, especially Daisy and Tom, represent the old aristocracy. Fitzgerald portrays the newly rich as being vulgar, gaudy, ostentatious, and lacking in social graces and taste. “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and . . . then retreated back into their money . . . and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” This quote reflects the lives of the upper-class, especially Tom and Daisy, throughout the novel they are described as restless, this is important as it shows their lives are boring and shows how they have no dreams or aspirations in life they drift place to place without a purpose using their money in an attempt to save themselves.
The eyes of Dr T.J Eckleberg, referred to by Gatsby as Oculist, is a physical manifestation of the green light. The eyes are watching you as everyone is, even though the eyes are not present, the people can feel the eyes watching them. This was specifically present to George Wilson ( a failed mechanic in the Valley Of Ashes). The Voa is a dumping ground between the two Eggs and New York, a metaphorical purgatory or limbo where time has no meaning and despair is the only currency. George believed the eyes were staring down upon him in judgement on the moral decay of America. The billboard is from a failed business much like everything else in the Voa, a failed dream lying in the wake of dust and ash symbolizing the death of the American Dream.
The opposite of people watching is being watched by others. Gatsby and Daisy are being watched throughout the novel by other characters. Although Fitzgerald never shows Gatsby’s affair with Daisy, The narrative is Nick’s story, and, aside from when they remake each other’s acquaintance. Daisy is being watched by society because she is married to a man who is having an affair with her lover. Tom will pretend that he is not having an affair with Daisy when the green light is shining to make Gatsby happy. Gatsby has also been watched as well throughout the novel. When Nick meets Gatsby he remarks that Gatsby is like a ghost, a ghost that is constantly surrounded by people. “These people are vainly trying to exist without mirrors because they have forgotten that the image they dislike is the real thing—the thing they want to look at. A man sees things in other people that are not really in them. He may chatter through life—always suspecting everybody of keeping something from him—and then he dies and discovers that his mind has deceived him.” The green light that Gatsby reaches for, the thing he has hoped for all his life, and what he wanted to be. The green light is the Gatsby and it is something that he lacks and because of this, he can be seen as a ghost. A ghost who is glimpsed, in the same way, a ghost could be glimpsed through his eyes. They are all empty because he has lost his American Dream and thus Jay Gatsby has died.
I agree with this statement as Fitzgerald uses imagery to show the effects of materialism and brokenness throughout the novel, we see this through Jay Gatsby and the imagery used to display Fitzgerald’s purpose to provide insight into the effects of materialism and broken dreams leaving the reader wondering and questioning their own decisions and dreams. Fitzgerald is saying the American Dream has been corrupted by hedonism and this focus on money to the detriment of Judeo-Christian values.