Natalie Bova
Period 6 - Peck
Commentary On The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby is a well recognized and skillfully written novel in which the author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, uses many techniques in order to convey a central theme. This theme, if correctly interpreted, can tell us many things about the life of Americans in the 1920?s. The story?s narrator, Nick, tells a frightening tale about a man he so desperately wants to understand, Gatsby. Through his symbolism and honesty, the author uses these characters to illustrate the theme of the decline of one of the most prosperous times in American History, the 1920?s.
The author of the Great Gatsby uses symbolism in order to paint a larger and more interesting picture of the economic classes of the time. Early on in the novel, we are introduced to the separation between two neighboring areas, East egg, and West Egg. East Egg is described as a neighborhood filled with more established, respected, and educated people. In simpler terms, these people could be referred to as being ?old money.? By contrast, West Egg is inhabited by people who have more recently acquired their wealth, and in some cases, have acquired it illegally. This can be simply referred to as ?new money?. This place is described as being less fashionable. In between these two is an area referred to as the ?valley of ashes?, a place seen as being dark and lifeless, where people with less money and power live. The American dream meant to Americans that anyone, who works hard enough, can achieve wealth and success. The American aristocracy, however, scorned the newly rich, or those who, in The Great Gatsby, live in West egg. The west egg symbolizes the newly wealthy america, while east egg paints a picture of the life of the educated high class, who looked down so frequently on these newcomers. Fitzgerald refers to the houses on east egg as ?white palaces?. One of the main characters of this story, Daisy, from east egg, is often paired with the color white, making us think that white symbolizes the good and angelic parts of america. These characters are positioned on purpose by Fitzgerald, in order to show us this social trend taking place in the 1920s. We learn in the novel, that Gatsby has earned much of his wealth from illegal activity, which is purposefully done in order to show us that crime was a large problem of the time, and was on the rise. With all of this prosperity and wealth, it is natural that many of the time became incredibly materialistic. Gatsby himself, owned many unnecessary items, which to some, can be interpreted as Gatsby trying to impress others. He had a library filled with books where a page had never even been turned, as well as other extravagant belongings that seemed over the top. The never-ending parties he threw showed off his material belongings as well as his beautiful home. The author uses Gatsby?s wealth as a way to show us just how important the material world had become for these wealthy people. This was one of the many things that led to the crumbling of the American economy, which ended up ruining the American dream in the minds of many people. These symbols create a simple picture the author was trying to convey: the decline of the American dream at this time. In conclusion, Fitzgerald uses different techniques, with the most easy to recognize being symbolism, in order to explain to the reader how society was in American in the 1920s. Through his story of love, heartbreak, and death, he shows us the rise and fall of man at this time. The ups, downs, and in betweens, paint us a interesting, and at times scary picture, of exactly how things were. The beautiful written setting, story line, and characters are illustrated this way purposefully to show us one of the main themes in the novel: the decline and deterioration of the American dream.