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Themes, Motifs, and Symbolism Review. The Great Gatsby. Theme. #105: Theme: The fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work. Sometimes said to be an underlying “message” of a story.

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  • #105: Theme: The fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work. Sometimes said to be an underlying “message” of a story.
  • On the surface, The Great Gatsby is a story about thwarted love between a man and a woman (Gatsby and Daisy)
  • The central theme encompasses the corruption of the American Dream
  • What is the American Dream?
    • Originally about discovery, individualism and the pursuit of happiness; transformed or corrupted into easy money and the disintegration of morals
  • The Great Gatsby is a symbolic representation of the disintegration of the American dream in a time of unprecedented prosperity and material excess
  • The parties that Gatsby throws symbolize the reckless prosperity, cynicism, greed and empty pleasure
  • Newfound materialism is also represented in Gatsby’s actions, house, and manner
  • Gatsby as symbolic of the rise of criminal activity that is organized and unpunished
  • Clash (symbolic) between old money and new money (Gatsby=new and Tom = old)
  • Green Light: Gatsby instills meaning in the green light by associating it with Daisy. He’s trying to obtain her, without understanding that their love is not real.
  • Explored by The Great Gatsby is also the hollowness of the upper class lifestyle
  • The upper class (old money) in the novel demonstrate their hard heartedness, lack of care—how they are used to having their money take care of “problems”
  • MOTIFS: West Egg=newly rich and East Egg= old wealth
  • Valley of Ashes: Moral and Social decay of America
  • Weather: Often reflects the mood and meaning of the actions that the characters are making
  • The Eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg are a pair of fading, bespectacled eyes painted on an old advertising billboard over the valley of ashes—represent a few things: God staring down and judging society—however, they may take on different meanings as associated with each character.
  • Green Light: Gatsby’s hopes for the future (Daisy) Nick compares the green light to how the first settlers must have seen America when they sighted land for the first time