“The Great Gatsby” to criticise America from straying from the “American Dream”. Typically the American society tries to follow the American Dream, which is a dream of a society that allows everyone, no matter what economic class they were born into, to be able to accomplish whatever they want with hard work. With this principle no matter their social class Americans should be able to accomplish anything.
Fitzgerald thought that the American society wasn’t following the American dream; he successfully used symbols to criticize different aspects of American society, showing the weakness of each deviation from the American Dream. Many symbols were used, but the three most significant symbols were: the “green light”, the godliness of the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg and the sadness of the “Valley of Ashes”. Each symbol played a key role in Fitzgerald’s criticism. How did these symbols play a key role in Fitzgerald’s criticism of the American society that doesn’t follow the American Dream?
The first of the three symbols, the green light, was a powerful tool in which Fitzgerald used to criticise the loss of the American Dream from the American society. The green light was important because it represented the endless “hope” of which the American Dream promises. The hope for a desire should never be lost if the American Dream is followed correctly; Fitzgerald showed that this isn’t always true in the American society by showing that Gatsby’s hope fades away when he realizes because of class distinction he will never be able to marry Daisy.
Fitzgerald emphasizes this though Nick Caraway, his narrator, who observes: -“Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. ” (The Great Gatsby, pg. 125) Fitzgerald used Nick to show as Gatsby begins to realize that Daisy will never leave Tom and go with him, that the green light slowly begins to fade and symbolically so does his hope, his hope was what kept him going and now it was gone he had nothing to live for.
When Gatsby’s hope dies does his will to live dies also. Gatsby realizes that because he wasn’t born in the upper class he wouldn’t be able to accomplish his dream. A green light means go, but in this case Gatsby has had to stop, thus stoping his hope and his American Dream. Fitzgerald is then able to symbolise how the American Dream has “stoped” in the American society. How did this play a key role in the criticism of the American society?
It allowed the reader to see that even though some Americans work their hardest for something they were still not able to accomplish their dream because of the class they were born into, this completely goes against the American dream thus allowing Fitzgerald to criticise the American society on this aspect of the American society. The eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg symbolizing God’s eyes watching over the people played a key role in the criticism of the American society because the reader was able to view the actions of various characters as being contrary to what God would agree with.
Fitzgerald could then use the reader’s dislikes of the behaviour of the characters to inturn dislike the society. The readers disliking the society allowed Fitzgerald to criticise the American society more effectively. In order for a successful criticism the reader needs to agree with the criticism. If a reader sides with the group that is being criticised they probably won’t agree with the criticism, but with Fitzgerald using the eyes of Dr. T. J Eckleburg he was able to make the reader dislike the society, and in turn the reader wouldn’t want to side with them.
The symbolism of the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg was made clearer to the reader when Michales looked to the billboard in the following quote: -“Standing behind him, Michales saw with a shock that he was looking into the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg. ”( The Great Gatsby, pg. 152 ) Michales realizing the symbolism of the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg allowed the reader to realize this symbolism too. The reader than could decide that some actions of some characters were immoral. Fitzgerald went on to write that the sign was faded.
This symbolized that god was leaving the hearts of the people allowing the reader to find more fault in the American society. Why were the eyes of Dr. T. J Eckleburg one of the most important symbols in the criticism of the American dream? For Fitzgerald to show that the society was doing things against God’s will, depicts that what they are doing is very immoral. A religious reader will probably want to side with what God judges so they would also think that some characters in the American society were immoral.
The reader would then be more against the American society allowing Fitzgerald to better criticise it because the reader won’t be trying to defend it if they were against it. The American Dream allows all Americans the same opportunities for self improvement. The Valley of Ashes was a key force in the criticism of the American Dream because it was used in two literary devices of setting and symbolism. Fitzgerald by establishing the setting in the Valley of Ashes allowed the reader to better relate to the working class because they could see a very detailed picture of the daily life of the working class.
The Valley of Ashes depicts the working class as not getting the same opportunities as the upper class for self improve. The working class will probably stay in the working class forever and so will their children. Fitzgerald tells this with the use of his narrator Nick Caraway’s description of the Valley of Ashes -“But above the gray land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it…” (The Great Gatsby pg. 26) The bleak dust that “endlessly covers” the land symbolizes how the working class lives are static, non-changing.
Fitzgerald by showing the poor conditions of the working class makes the reader feel pity for the working class, causing the reader to be against that aspect of American society that puts the lower class into poverty. The idea of someone not being able to accomplish something just because of the circumstances of which they were born shows the corruption of the American society. How was the Valley of Ashes one of the most important symbols for Fitzgerald to use in the criticism of the American society that follows the American dream?
The Valley of Ashes showing the poor qualities of the working class makes readers realize that some Americans aren’t able to accomplish their dreams because of circumstances from when they were born goes against the principles of the American Dream. Fitzgerald was better able to criticize the American dream with the use of three symbols. His symbols allowed the reader to, better relate to his writing, use prior knowledge to help in the understanding of his criticism, have a visual picture of the working class, and realize the flaws of some characters in a religious sense.
The green light played one of the most important roles because without out it the reader wouldn’t have realized that people in the American society that do try to follow the American dream and work their hardest sometimes aren’t able to accomplish their dream thus showing that America isn’t following the American Dream. The seconded of the most important symbols was the Valley of Ashes, without the valley of ashes the reader wouldn’t have realized that sometime a person isn’t able to accomplish something because of the status of which they were born. The last most important symbol used was the eyes of Dr.
T. J. Eckleburg with this symbol Fitzgerald was able to move the reader against the actions of the American society because he showed that god was against the actions, if the reader was against the actions than Fitzgerald could criticise the actions of the American society more effectively because the reader would agree more with what he was saying. Without the above three symbols playing their key role in the criticism of the American society, Fitzgerald’s criticism of the American society not following the American dream wouldn’t have been as greatly done.