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Themes in The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby develops a number of themes related to Fitzgerald's view of his society and also to his particular concerns with the role of the artist in society. The novel makes use of a number of symbols and symbolic actions. The social classes in the novel are intended to be symbolic of the age, an age in which one group was considered the "lost" generation, lost because it had lost its way after World War I. There is a symbolic interaction between the Long Island world of money and leisure and the more frenetic and working-class image of the city of New York, and the characters in the novel can move between the two realms as much of the working class cannot. The city becomes a metaphor for a mechanistic and materialistic society. The city is also a source of ambivalent feelings, for the writer is both attracted to the energy and life of the city while also seeing it as a microcosm for all the ills of American society. The ideal of the American dream is another symbol shown to be an empty dream. For Fitzgerald, the artist is equated with the romantic, and the romantic--such as Jay Gatsby--is lost in that sort of society. For Gatsby, the dream proves illusory, and the reality is the hypocritical society of West Egg.

The first symbolic representation in the novel is found in the division between East Egg and West Egg, with the difference being a matter of the age of residents' money. West Eggers see themselves as superior to the people of East Egg--Gatsby lives in East Egg and gazes across the bay at West Egg, which thus stands always as the embodiment of his dream, a dream he can see but cannot reach out and touch. People are also symbolic in this novel--Gatsby is symbolic of the dreamer, while Daisy is the human embodiment of Gatsby's dreams. In the end, the dream destroys the dreamer.

The character of Jay Gatsby is used by the author to comment on the falseness of the accepted and...

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Themes in The Great Gatsby. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:48, September 27, 2020, from