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Symbolism in The Great Gatsby.

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Introduction

Symbolism in The Great Gatsby By 1925, author F. Scott Fitzgerald was known primarily as the historian of the Jazz Age and chronicler in slick American weeklies of the American flapper. Perhaps this is why critics and reviewers were caught off-guard in that year, at the height of the Roaring Twenties, when Fitzgerald published The Great Gatsby, a story cited today as the Great American Novel. It is true, as Magnum Bryant says, "The simple romance of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan is merely the foundation for a narrative structure that accommodates Fitzgerald's ideas about irreconcilable contradictions within the American Dream and ultimately about the ideal quest itself"(Byrant n.pg.). The intricate weaving of the various stories within The Great Gatsby is accomplished through a complex symbolic substructure of the narrative. The primary images and symbols that Fitzgerald employs in developing the theme of The Great Gatsby are the green light, the Valley of Ashes, and the overlooking eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg. The green light at the end of Daisy Buchanan's dock is the first use of one of the novel's central symbols. The initial appearance of the green light occurs when the narrator, Nick Caraway, sees Gatsby standing in front of his mansion, stretching out "his arms toward the dark water in a curious way" (Fitzgerald 26; ch. ...read more.

Middle

The valley symbolizes a world whose inhabitants are so spiritually lost, that they worship money and wealth. The promise of happiness, hope, and freedom that America gave its first settlers, has been corrupted by the lies of greed and the emptiness of a dream. The Valley of Ashes also symbolizes the moral decay that Fitzgerald saw behind the facade of wealth and happiness. It represents the plight of the poor, like George Wilson, who live among the dirty ashes and lose their vitality as a result. It is fitting, then, that the valley is chosen as a setting for such events as Nick's meeting with Myrtle Wilson and Myrtle's murder by Daisy. The gray color is also symbolic of corruption. This symbol is evident in the land, the pollution, and the corruption of morality. In the vast wasteland of the Valley of Ashes stands a solitary landmark, a billboard with an advertisement for an optometrist named Dr. T.J. Eckleburg. The symbol of T. J. Eckelburg's eyes represent a godly being watching over society. Fitzgerald incorporates the symbol into his novel to represent a pair of all-seeing, all-knowing and judging eyes, which are meant to intimidate. Nick describes them as " blue and gigantic-their retinas are one yard high. ...read more.

Conclusion

The primary images and symbols that Fitzgerald employs in developing the themes of The Great Gatsby are the green light, the Valley of Ashes, and the overlooking eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg. The green light at the end of Daisy's dock is the first use of one of the novel's central symbols. The color green traditionally symbolizes hope, in this case, Gatsby's hope to win back his past love, Daisy Buchanan. Gatsby, lured on by Daisy, who is no more than a symbol for him, pursues the green light and the dream of progress and material possessions. The Valley of Ashes symbolizes a world whose inhabitants are so spiritually lost, that they worship money and wealth. The promise of happiness, hope, and freedom that America gave its first settlers, has been corrupted by the lies of greed, and the emptiness of a dream. It also symbolizes the moral decay that Fitzgerald saw behind the facade of wealth and happiness. It represents the plight of the poor, like George Wilson, who live among the dirty ashes and lose their vitality as a result. Finally, the symbol of Dr. T. J. Eckelburg's eyes represent a godly being watching over society. Fitzgerald incorporates the symbol into his novel to represent a pair of all-seeing, all-knowing and judging eyes, which are meant to intimidate. James E. ...read more.

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This essay is an exceptional piece of coursework. The candidate's writing style is absolutely outstanding and exceeds all expectation for a GCSE candidate. The mark scheme provided would suggest this candidate has more than earnt a top A* for their ...

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Response to the question

This essay is an exceptional piece of coursework. The candidate's writing style is absolutely outstanding and exceeds all expectation for a GCSE candidate. The mark scheme provided would suggest this candidate has more than earnt a top A* for their efforts here. There is infallible knowledge of both the novel and context in which it was written shown by the candidate, as well as flawless analytical skills demonstrated throughout, the candidate uses quotes from the book and from external sources (all of which are cited appropriately), which indicates to the examiner a fervent desire to prove oneself head and shoulders above the rest by the sheer amount of independent research which has been conducted in order to fortify the answer given.

My only quandary - albeit a very small one - is that the candidate's conclusion is largely a repeat of the rest of the essay. This large portion can be cut out and the conclusion would still be greatly effective, so no harm is done here. Overall, this is one of the best pieces of coursework I have ever read on 'The Great Gatsby'.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis is superb. I couldn't praise it enough. The analytical style shown, and the control over said analytical style is simply unrivalled in my experience of GCSE coursework. Given the excellence of the content shown here, I personally recommend all the cited works this candidate has referred to in order to produce such a brilliantly confident and insightful answer. Everything written here scores marks, and would continue to score marks of the highest mark value available because it is so strong. It's not that this candidate is always illuminating though - they concentrate their answer firmly on some very obvious contextual facts of the time the book was focused on, but more than that, they write with such linguistic flair and a fresh imagination for complex sentences structures and rich vocabularies that even the most bland/commonplace of analysis is a joy to read.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is faultless (QWC). There is no cause for concern with regard to any of the candidate's use of language and/or grammar, spelling and punctuation. With such a complex register, it would be expected for the candidate to make some mistake so either this candidate is truly a fantastically confident and accurate writer or they have laboured over each word choice, each sentences structure, in order to make sure that the answer reads as beautifully as this final version does. Proof-reading your answer before the final hand-in date is an absolutely essential practice, and must be done even if you are confident in your QWC because we, as humans, will always make minor mistakes, and for the majority of the times we make them (especially in writing) we aren't even aware until we re-check.


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