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Symbols and Symbolism in F. Scott Fitzgeralds The Great Gatsby

Symbolism is able to produce immense emotions. Fitzgerald applies symbolism to three of the most significant characters in “The Great Gatsby” to illustrate incisive sentiments. Fitzgerald’s description of Tom Buchanan’s colossal house signifies Tom and his values. The red and white colors of the Buchanan’s mansion represent Tom’s personality. Red customarily exemplifies impurity and boldness, while white signifies Tom’s superior attitude towards other individuals. His “red” disposition is presented by the audacity of his exposed affair with Myrtle and his “white” character is portrayed through his racist comments throughout the book.

A Georgian Colonial mansion signifies Tom’s racist personality due to the past history of the Southern states prejudices against African-Americans. Fitzgerald’s diction of “Colonial” also expresses that Tom is old-money and was raised from a prep-school background, which alludes the reader that he is not a very open-minded character, but relies more heavily upon literary knowledge. The house is distinctly a portrayal of Tom and his bold, egotistical, racist, scholarly manner.

Fitzgerald’s usage of the green dock light symbolizes Gatsby’s fantasies of Daisy. .. he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone- he stretched out his arms toward his arms toward the dark water… and a single green light, … that might have been the end of a dock. (26). Gatsby extends his arm and his very soul towards the green light, Daisy, for guidance and peace. This connection with the dock light allows Gatsby to be gratified while alone(189). “If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay… You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock”(98).

Although, Gatsby seldom comprehends Daisy he ceaselessly believes in her, similar to his incessant knowledge of the light. Gatsby occasionally understands her, but the majority of the time there is an obstacle in his way, such as the mist. The green light symbolizes Gatsby’s persistent hope for Daisy’s acceptance, even during encumbrances. Gatsby’s character is illustrated by his car. Fitzgerald states “it was a rich cream color… and traced with a labyrinth of windshields that mirrored a dozen suns… (68). This depicts Gatsby as the new-money due to the “rich cream color” and a “dozen suns,” which indicates a golden hue.

The gold represents “earned” money, rather than inherited money passed down through generations. “… she (Daisy) was very nervous and she thought it would steady her to drive… Well, first Daisy turned away from the woman… and then she lost her nerve and turned back… I’m just going to wait here and see if he tries to bother her about that unpleasantness this afternoon”(151). Similar to how Daisy is able to turn the car any direction she pleases, Gatsby also permits Daisy to direct him. He remains faithful to Daisy, even to the perilous moments that precede to his death.

Gatsby’s sumptuous car represents Gatsby due to its beauty and its loyalty to the last second. Fitzgerald’s use of symbolism is captivating and effective. It entitles the reader to meditate on his statements. When an individual reflects upon Fitzgerald’s diction they detect meaning in the red and white Georgian Colonel house, the green dock light and an elegant car. It presents more material for the reader to examine and gain more understanding about the characters. Impulsively, these objects begin to symbolize significant character’s emotions, such as Tom’s personality, Gatsby and his enduring love for Daisy and Daisy’s avarice.

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