Symbolism in the Great Gatsby Symbolism is what makes a story complete. Fitzgerald clearly uses symbolism.
Almost anything in the novel can be taken as a symbol, from the weather, to the colors of clothing the characters wear (Samuels 80). There are four main symbols used in the novel, they are The East and West Egg, the green light at the end of Daisy's dock, the valley of ashes, and the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg.
One of the most important symbols in the novel is class and social standing. East and West Egg act as a symbol of this by its physical makeup. Tom and Daisy live on the East which is far more refined and consists of people with more money and a higher social status (Samuels 80). East Egg also represents the "old money." Nick and Gatsby are on the West, which is for people who are of not much importance, even if they have money.
The West Egg represents the "new money" (Bloom 19). The green light shines from the East Egg to the West Egg luring Gatsby towards what he has always wanted.
Daisy, the woman that Gatsby has always wanted but never gets, lives on East Egg.
There is also a boundary of water between the two cities that keeps people like Daisy and Gatsby apart from one another and keeps them from reaching their goals and what they want in life. (Bloom 34).
Another symbol used in the novel was colors. The first was the green light. The light was only a light, however to Gatsby it becomes his dream for the future. The light symbolizes hopes and dreams. The dream is Daisy. Gatsby buys the house across the bay so he can see the Buchanan's light. Later in the story when Gatsby has Daisy the importance of the light diminishes (Samuels 80). The color yellow in the story often represents death. Myrtle dies after being hit by a yellow car. Another example of symbolism is the color white. Daisy is very pure and refined and owns all white, while Gatsby is of lower status and owns all yellow which represents his life being tarnished and worn (Samuels 81).
The next symbol used was the valley of ashes. The valley of ashes represents a modern world, which is like a grotesque hell created by modern industry .Factories and trains, produced in the manufacture of wealth, has polluted America with its wastes. It is a physical desert that symbolizes the spiritual desolation, that a society based on money creates (Bloom 72).
The final symbol used in the story is the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg. This is the novels major symbol. Until George Wilson decides that they are the eyes of God, they are simply viewed as an unexplained image, as they stare down on the valley of ashes (Samuels 81). They often make the people feel as though they are the ones being watched and examined. The eyes true symbolic meaning is preserved in the beginning (Bloom 34).These eyes are disturbing throughout the story because they have no fixed meaning. Many believe that the eyes have different meanings. They can mean anything that the reader wants them to mean, but they themselves look down on a world and do not judge it by the social classes or beauty. Besides Nick, T.J. Eckleburg is the only other person to attend Gatsby's funeral. This is because he saw something more in Gatsby than he saw in everyone else (Samuels 81).
In short, symbolism takes reading to another level. Between the East and West Egg, use of colors such as the green light, the valley of ashes and the eyes of Dr.
Eckleburg it is evident that symbolism was very important in this novel. Symbolism is sometimes misleading and difficult to recognize, however, it exists in every good novel and makes things more interesting.