How could someone describe emotions, personality, and setting? Imagery, materialism, love, racism, and many more topics are very important to how the reader can understand the novel, The Great Gatsby, and what is being said. When reading this literary analysis one can learn more about how the author uses these topics to explain certain events or emotions. There are many symbols in The Great Gatsby, but perhaps none as powerful as the eyes on the billboard. While this symbol seems to play a small role, it actually has a deeper significance to the novel’s intent.
In addition to the symbols related to eyes, the use of light and dark to represent emotional and mental states is prominent in this novel. Frequent references are made, including the light on the distant dock, the light in a neighbor’s house, and car lights. Although the American dream is a large topic of The Great Gatsby, racism is also a popular topic. Nick Carroway is very subtle with his racism. According to the criticism, his style of racism is Nordicism, which is an ideology that emphasizes the supremacy of the Nordic race over the rest of the human race. “We’ve got to beat them down… This idea is that we’re Nordics… And we’ve produced all the things that go to make civilization” (Fitzgerald, 14).
Nick laughed as the limousine drove past them with a white man driving and black men in the back. He refers to the black men as “bucks”. Nicks attitude towards colored people proves the criticism to be correct. Imagery and the use of color describe scenes and the emotion of the setting. The criticism says the elaborate light and dark (light, darkness, sunshine, and shadows, and the in-between changes of twilight) symbolize emotional states. Daisy is often dressed in white or light colors and is associated with light and sunshine throughout the novel, she is seen as Gatsby’s light. “… unobtrusively, and with a bantering inconsequence that was never quite a chatter, that was as cool as their white dresses and their impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire” (12).
Her constant quality makes it impossible for Gatsby to catch this light and keep it in one place. She is like the light at the end of her dock, always changing. This supports the criticism in how symbolism and imagery are used quite often to express feelings. The seasonal calendar, summer, is a metaphor for the blooming of love and hope as the flowers mentioned very often. Social status plays a big role in how someone is treated or how they are seen in the days of The Great Gatsby. Daisy sees herself as a higher social class than a lot of people. She “flirts with wealth” and believes love is about money so she tends to go for men like Tom and Gatsby. Tom feels intimidated by Gatsby because he isn’t quite the same as everyone else. He has a certain personality that Tom does not approve of. Gatsby represents a “heightened sensitivity to the promises of life” (11).
Tom believes he threatens the concept of Americanism. The criticism states that for Tom, it is Jay Gatsby in particular who represents a mode of racial indeterminacy or “vanishing” that threatens to violate not only the immediate community of East Egg but also the very concept of Americanism itself. This criticism is accurate seeing as though Gatsby embodies the American Dream because his dazzling personality blends materialistic and transcendental elements. Nick, although he comes from a family with a bit of wealth, doesn’t have nearly the capital of Gatsby or Tom. In the end, though, he shows himself to be an honorable and principled man, which is more than Tom exhibits. His position in the social order is not one from which visions of reform are likely to develop. Gatsby is seen as a mysterious man. No one knows the truth to his past, where he got his money, and how he became the man he is today.
People were told he went to Oxford, he was a German spy during the war, and that he killed a man. Everyone is just left wondering what is true or not. Nick takes it upon himself to tell Gatsby’s story by piecing it together from different sources. He wants to set the record straight. Tom is threatened by Gatsby because he poses a challenge to sexual and racial norms. Unutterable is an accurate word to use to describe Gatsby, for “he is constantly vanishing on the horizon of significance” (Will, 2). He vanishes at key moments in the text: his own parties, his unknown past, and shady business. The criticism also says that while Gatsby is a mystery he is, even more, an elusive rhythm, a fragment of lost words. “If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away” (7).
It is easy to see how someone’s opinion can be similar to the criticism because Gatsby’s past is so unknown that maybe even Nick didn’t have it completely correct. He collected information from different people that were significant to Gatsby’s early life. The fact that he is always disappearing at his own events and most of his guests have never even seen Gatsby before just shows how mysterious he really is. Materialism, blindness, and reality all go hand in hand. Being materialistic make you blind and being blind keeps you from seeing the reality of situations. The theme of blindness comes from the blind eyes that watch over the world of the novel, Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, the old billboard in the valley of ashes.
Gatsby creates a new image of himself to makes life possible. The only thing keeping him blind from his real past is his love for Daisy. He is blind in the form of his enduring ideals and dreams, and Daisy lives for the moment and is blind to the days to come. Gatsby’s materialistic attitude goes hand in hand with a series of transcendental values that Nick celebrates. “… I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock… He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night. Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future 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… And one fine morning. So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” (189).
Daisy becomes a symbol of power and wealth to Gatsby, but what he doesn’t realize is that his idea of Daisy has as little bearing on reality as he does. “Nick suggests that Gatsby, in pursuing “the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock” and by creating himself in his own image, has re-enacted the transcendental dimension of the American dream, the search for the sublime and the impossible.” (Lena, 11). Love is an important theme in this novel. The story surrounding Gatsby is all about his love life and how he is trying to win over his longtime love, Daisy, and how Daisy is having an affair with Tom because she is still in love with Gatsby. At the end of the novel, Gatsby realizes that Daisy isn’t as madly in love as he is with her. He saw her as his dream and when he loses her to Tom he realizes her voice was only the seductive power of riches. The criticism states that the myth of culture at work is one that affirms an ideology of class and property, of racial hierarchy, of women as possessions (Giltrow and Stouck, 4).
Her social status makes her a mysterious person of sexual attraction, wealth, and social belonging, which is why Gatsby is so attracted to her and blind to how she really feels. “For a while, these reveries provided an outlet for his imagination; they were a satisfactory hint of the unreality, a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy’s wing” (105). Even Nick saw that what was going on between Gatsby and Daisy was going to end and was not real. He saw that Gatsby was just living in his own fantasy and could not escape. The many topics of imagery and symbolism used in this novel are very important to how the reader can understand what is being said. This literary analysis can help one to learn more about how the author uses these topics to explain certain events or emotions. While light and dark are conventional ways to explain the emotional states of characters, what are the particular meanings of the instances of light and dark as they appear?