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The Great Gatsby: Symbols & Motifs. By: Tim Brenner, Daniela Herrera, Ryan Morales & Rianna Scanlon. Green Light. The green light is an important symbol in The Great Gatsby. It symbolizes Gatsby’s hopes and dreams. It can be seen at the end of the Buchannan’s dock.

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The Great Gatsby: Symbols & Motifs


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    1. The Great Gatsby:Symbols & Motifs By: Tim Brenner, Daniela Herrera, Ryan Morales & Rianna Scanlon

    2. Green Light • The green light is an important symbol in The Great Gatsby. It symbolizes Gatsby’s hopes and dreams. It can be seen at the end of the Buchannan’s dock. • Gatsby looks at the green light and reaches for it in attempt to reaching his dream which is Daisy. • Gatsby hopes to reconnect with Daisy and dreams of having a relationship with her as he had once before he left for war.

    3. Green Light • Green is a color of renewal. Gatsby hopes to renew his old relationship with Daisy. Nick states “ Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgasticfuture that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter. Tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.” (pg.180). • When Gatsby would look for the light he would reminisce about his relationship with Daisy, wanting to go back to the past meanwhile life still continues to move on.

    4. Green Light • The symbolism of the green light changes however from promising to detrimental. • The green light at the end of the books feeds into Gatsby’s need for wealth. He fears if he loses his money then Daisy would not want to be with him • Jay Gatsby’s dream is crushed in the end due to being unable to satisfy Daisy’s shallow and superficial lifestyle.

    5. Dr. T. J. Eckleburg • The eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg as referenced throughout the Great Gatsby. They are a pair of eyes on a sign in the valley of ashes, an area about half way between West Egg and New York. An advertisement for an oculist’s practice they are described in the Great Gatsby as, “blue and gigantic- their retinas are one yard high. They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a non-existent nose.” (Pg.23) • Nick also thinks of the eyes as watchful and all knowing he says, “The giant eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg kept their vigil”(Pg.124)

    6. Dr. T. J. Eckleburg • After Myrtle is killed in the car accident Wilson relates the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg with the eyes of God. This is shown in his conversation with Michaelis. “Standing behind him, Michaelis saw with a shock that  he was looking at the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg, which had just emerged, pale and enormous, from the dissolving night. ‘God sees everything,’ repeated Wilson. ‘That’s an advertisement,’ Michaelis assured him.(Pg.159-161) • The stare of the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg represent the eyes of God. The eyes stare down on the characters as they disregard their morals and judge them for their careless behavior.

    7. Gatsby’s Car • In the time period of the 1920’s where the book takes place there is the concept of the “American Dream”. The American Dream is the idea of prosperity and attaining wealth from nothing. • Gatsby’s car is described as a bright yellow Rolls-Royce. Its flashiness is the perfect way to catch Daisy’s attention which is just what Gatsby desires.

    8. Gatsby’s Car • Gatsby’s car is a symbol of his status. It represents how wealthy he is. • Gatsby’s wealth is important to him because he wishes to impress Daisy in the hopes of winning her back. This represents the hollowness of the upper class because it shows that in order to get people to take interest in one, one must flaunt off one’s wealth. • His car also represents corruption that money brings. Gatsby’s flashy car evidently leads to unfortunate downfall of his dream as his car kills Tom Buchannan’s mistress, Myrtle.

    9. Colors

    10. Colors • There are many different colors which have different meanings. The most obvious color is the color Green as it is in the green light on Daisy’s dock. As mentioned before green is a symbol of hope. Green is specifically placed on the deck of Daisy’s house to show Gatsby’s hope of being with Daisy. • The color yellow symbolizes corruption and recklessness of wealth. Gatsby’s car is yellow and happens to be the cause of Myrtle’s death. Yellow can bee seen as imitating Gold which is the color of wealth. Gatsby is what we consider “New Money” and is trying to compete withthe “Old Money”who have been rich for generations.

    11. Colors • Blue represents the working class. The eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg are blue which is found in the Valley of Ashes watching over the working class. Gatsby’s servants also were blue. Those who are well off are known as “White Collar” people and those who are apart of the working class are known as “Blue Collar” people. • The colors Red and White are colors that can also represent wealth. The Buchannan’s mansion is described as a “ cheerful red-and-white Georgian Colonial mansion.” (pg. 6). Daisy and Jordan Baker are classified as “Old Money” and are depicted wearing white when they are first introduced in the story.

    12. Weather • Weather is important throughout because it sets the tone in the situations that appear in the book. • The weather mainly symbolizes the stages in Gatsby and Daisy’s relationship. When they meet for the first time in 5 years it is raining. The rain represents the awkward feelings they felt having not seen each other in a long period of time. As the rain begins to clear and it gets sunnier, Gatsby and Daisy become less awkward and begin to reconnect with one another.

    13. Weather • The weather tends to get hotter and hotter as Gatsby and Daisy get closer to one another. The heat symbolizes the passion Gatsby has for Daisy. • Heat also represents the tension between Gatsby and Tom. The weather is at its hottest when Gatsby and Tom confront each other about Daisy. Gatsby and Tom argue and eventually Daisy cannot “ take the heat” and and hurries off in Gatsby’s car unintentionally killing Myrtle. • Tom tells Daisy,” The thing to do is to forget about the heat.” (pg. 126). This can represent the heat between her and Gatsby. Tom wants her to completely forget about Gatsby and in the end that is what she does when she doe not attend his funeral. She packs her bags and runs off with Tom leaving the heat behind.

    14. Geography • Geography is also a motif used in the Great Gatsby. A motif is “a recurring subject, theme, idea, etc., especially in a literary works.” Through this use of geography Fitzgerald show the social stratification that exists in society and also the divisions that exist between those with old money and new money.

    15. Geography • West Egg- represents the young and ambitious people who live in the Long Island Sound. They have recently come into wealth and are the “wannabes” of the area. They want to be as respected as the old money family’s that live in East Egg. • East Egg – includes family’s who come from old money. Their families have had money for years and lead very traditional lives. “Old money” families are considered more respectable and this is shown at Gatsby’s party where Daisy considers the party uncivilized and unlike the parties she usually attends.  

    16. Geography • Valley of ashes- Nick depicts the Valley of Ashes as a lifeless background “where ashes take forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery ( Fitzgerald 23) The valley of ashes symbolizes the hardships of the poor who lose their will to live as a result of their struggles.

    17. Bibliography Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Print. "HiltonGatsbyProject." . N.p.. Web. 10 Feb 2014. <http://hiltongatsbyproject.wikispaces.com/Color Symbolism>. Millett, Frederick C.. "Symbols In The Great Gatsby." . N.p.. Web. 10 Feb 2014. <http://excellence-in-literature.com/american-lit/e3-resources/symbols-in-the-great-gatsby-by-frederick-millett>. "Motif." Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 06 Feb. 2014. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Motif>.

    18. Bibliography • Ryan, Vincent. "Join Academia.edu & Share Your Research with the World." Physical and Moral Geographies in "The Great Gatsby" N.p., 10 Nov. 2012. Web. 06 Feb. 2014. • "The Great Gatsby;Symbols and Motifs." . N.p.. Web. 10 Feb 2014. <http://thegreatgatsbysandm.blogspot.com/2011/05/cars-motif.html>.