The Great Gatsby – Symbol

We have looked at several symbols in The Great Gatsby. Select 3 key symbols from the text and do the following for each symbol:

– Provide a description (using quotes) of the symbol from the text.

– Explain when and why the symbol appears throughout the text.

– Analyse what the symbol helps you to understand about an important character.

– Make a link between the symbol and the idea of illusion.

Green light: This is the light that is on the end of pier at Daisy and Tom’s mansion, it can be seen from Gatsby’s house, Gatsby often comes out to his pier to watch the green light. The symbol appears at the beginning of the novel but fades away towards the end of the novel, this is because the light symbolises Gatsby’s hopes and dreams and towards the end he begins to lose hope in his goal to get Daisy so the light fades. The light acts as his guide to get to Daisy to lead him to his overall goal.

Eyes of T.J. Eckleburg: These eyes are on a gigantic sign on the Valley of Ashes, they look over the valley. T.J. Eckleburg is a Doctor for eyes which is why his eyes are being advertised over the city. The symbol appears when the characters go through the Valley of Ashes to and from West Egg, towards Manhattan. The eyes represents god looking over the American society as a moral wasteland.

Flowers: A daisy flower symbolises innocence, purity, and beauty. Daisy Buchanan’s name is appropriately chosen as she appears to have all of these qualities, through the eyes of Gatsby. But what you often don’t see at first glance in a daisy is the yellow in the centre. This yellow represents her cupidity and moral corruption and her innocence and purity is just her appearance. This is an example that Gatsby shouldn’t of judged a book by it’s cover in this situation.

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