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Sybolism in the Great GastbyBy Twyla LomenF Scott Fitzgeralds The Great Gatsby is rich in symbolism which isportrayed on several different levels in a variety of ways One of themost important qualities of symbolism within this novel is the way inwhich it is so fully integrated into the plot and structure Some of thesymbols are used mostly as tools for characterization such asWolfsheims cuff links Gatsbys huge library of uncut books andToms repeated gesture of physically pushing other people aroundOther symbols such as Gatsbys car symbolizing material wealth inAmerica and its destructfulness have a function in the plot as well asa more abstract significance However the major symbols such asthe valley of ashes the green light and the east and west are filledwith meanings that go beyond the plot and truly capture Fitzgeraldstheme of this novel the corruption of the American dreamThe corruptive effect of wealth is shown by the conflict betweenthe established rich represented by the East Eggers and the newlyrich represented by the West Eggers West Egg is the home of thenouveaux riche of Gatsby and those like him who have made hugefortunes but lack the traditions associated with inherited wealth andare therefore vulgar The East Eggers represented by the Buchananshave the traditions and lack vulgarity but they have been corruptedby the purposelessness and the empty futures their money hasprovided The downfall of the American promise is also symbolizedby the reversal of east and west When the settlers came to the NewWorld America to escape persecution and the corruption of theircountries they traveled from east to west However since the idealhas been corrupted people travel from west to east attracted by thewealth and a materialistic life masking the true emptiness of theirgoal of happiness Daisy Tom Nick Jordan and Gatsby all werewesterners and by moving east they moved from a world of valuesto a moral vacuum represented by the valley of ashesThe valley of ashes represent a modern world which is like agrotesque
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