The Great Gatsby is a novel by Scott Fitzgerald that features a number of characters that are all intended to bring out various themes in the book. As a result, the author has been able to express various meanings via the characters. In addition, the author has also employed symbols and motifs to establish various themes. As a result, the novel can be interpreted in a variety of ways based on the various themes. Love and deception, immorality, wealth and social classes, and the fall of the American dream in the 1920s are only a few of the main themes explored in the novel. The goal of this paper is to bring out the hidden meaning and messages using the characters, symbols and other forms of literary techniques used by the author.
The gap between the poor and the rich is well represented in the novel The Great Gatsby. According to the narrator in this book, the island he lives on has a west and east egg separated by a courtesy bay. The two eggs, however, are only similar in size and shape. The west egg is described as the less fashionable with cheaper houses especially the one in which the narrator lived. On the hand, the east wing is described as the more fashionable side with white palaces. The differences portrayed by these descriptions show the social disparities in the society. In addition, the social disparity is also displayed in chapter two as the author describes the valley of ashes. According to the writer, the houses at the valley of ashes are grotesque with smoke emanating from the chimneys (Scott, 18). This means that the people who live in the valley are poor unlike those who live on the island. As well, the men in the valley are also weak and emaciated unlike those who live on the island such as Tom and Gatsby who are always driving expensive cars and dine in fine restaurants. These differences mean the society is categorized in different social classes where the poor live on one side and the rich on another side.
Love and betrayal are two aspects of life that are clearly portrayed in this novel. To start with, Daisy and Gatsby were in love until Gatsby joined the world war. Despite the love they had for each other, they were both selfish and hence betrayed one another in the end. This betrayal shows how people in todays society disregard their promises even the most intimate ones. The acts of Daisy betraying Tom by having an affair with Gatsby and later deciding to leave with Tom after Gatsby dies means that people are only ready to guard their own interests and hence portraying true love as an illusion. In addition, it is also clear that marriages are based on conveniences rather than love. For instance, Tom and Daisy married each other to protect and maintain their social status. Apart from that, the author has also shown how friends betray each other in difficult times. When Gatsby died, all his close friends declined to attend his burial to protect their reputations (Scott, 100). As such, none of the friends wanted to understand or know the truth of the circumstances surrounding his death.
Immorality is a vice that has engulfed todays society, especially among the young generation. As such, the author has used different scenarios to show how the society has lost its morals as well as the implications of this vice. Sexual immorality in particular is well depicted in this book. For instance, despite being married Tom had a mistress. As well, his mistress (Myrtle) is married to Wilson and therefore Tom pretends to be his friend but only so that he can interact with Myrtle (Scott, 28). This affair represents the level of immorality in the society. Gatsby and Daisy are also involved in immorality as they have an affair while Daisy is still married. Just like in the novel, these affairs have led to broken families in the society and death of the involved individuals as result of violent partners who feel betrayed like in the case of Gatsby and Wilson. The valley of ashes represents social immorality. The people in the valley are suffering due to the industrial waste dumped by the rich. The parties held by Gatsby where the people engage in drinking alcohol and dancing to jazz music represents immorality. These scenarios show a lost generation.
Wealth and fame are also featured in the novel where the author shows how people are willing to do anything to acquire wealth. For instance, Gatsby betrayed his love for Daisy to acquire wealth. More so, he had to deal with illegal businesses, which the author describes as bootlegging. Many people in the society are involved in corruption, drug trafficking as well as money laundering to acquire wealth. Although she has talent, Jordan has to cheat in golf to sustain her lifestyle. This cheating portrays how sportsmen and women use illegal substances to boost their stamina instead of working hard to acquire their wealth and fame honestly.
The author has also used colors to describe different places and scenarios. For instance, the palaces on the east egg are white and Daisy and Jordan are always dressed in white. In addition, when Gatsby met Daisy for tea at Nicks house, he was wearing a white suit. The white color in these instances is used to show purity or virtue. The characters associated with white are not virtuous in nature but they pretend to be good people. As such, the white color represents false purity. The green color in this novel represents hope. Gatsby was hopeful that he would be reunited with Daisy. As such, he was seen trying to reach out for the green light from Daisy’s dock a sign that he was trying to achieve his hopes and dreams. The gray color is used to describe the valley of ashes. Gray represents lack of life and hopelessness just like how the people living in the valley of ashes look lifeless and without a future (ZHANG, 40). The bespectacled face on the billboard in the valley of ashes represents God. The face shows how God looks at the people with decayed morals.
In conclusion, the novel can be interpreted in different ways thus giving different meanings. As well, there are many hidden messages within the novel some of which only known to the author. However, the writer has been able to convey the intended message by capturing the readers imagination using different objects and subjects.
Scott, Fitzgerald F. The Great Gatsby. Рипол Классик, 2017.
ZHANG, Haibing. “Symbolic Meanings of Colors in The Great Gatsby.” Studies in Literature and Language 10.6 (2015): 38-44.