The Great Gatsby – Lesson 5

Okay guys, so today we talked about SYMBOLISM, which this novel is full of, even in the first three chapters.

So, what symbols are there, and what do they mean?

The Valley of Ashes

  • Where the poor work and reside.
  • The reality behind the glamourous and superficial façade that East and West Egg live behind.
  • Also the reality of the American dream – the rich pass through this place, whereas the poor have not succeeded in their dream, and instead have to live in this place of emptiness.

The eyes of   Dr T.J. Eckelberg

  • –Omnipotent
  • Watches over the Valley
  • “But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground.” (p28)
  • Sees the sharp contrast between the rich and the poor, the corruption of the wealthy and of the American dream itself.

Dogs

  • –Symbolise loyalty
  • –Ironic – Myrtle would like a dog, but is unfaithful to her husband
  • Tom shows no emotion towards the dog, an indication of his feelings towards his relationships (“Here’s your money. Go and buy ten more dogs with it.”)
  • Breed of dog – Airedale – is a mixed breed, just as Myrtle wishes to mix with the upper classes
  • –Dogs also symbolic of family in the text – Daisy/Myrtle trying to replace something that is missing?

Myrtle’s dresses

  • –Myrtle appears to be wealthy, even though she is an average woman.
  • She seems to undergo a personality transplant with each dress – her clothing symbolising her superficial, inconsistent nature.

Town Tattle

  • –Another symbol that represents the culture of the wealthy – superficial, no depth.
  • –Their only interest is gossip, and they live in a world of rumours and myth (Gatsby).

HOMEWORK, DUE Wednesday 21/08/2013:

Find examples of these themes in the first three chapters of the text:

  • Corruption of the American dream
  • Hope
  • Paradox
  • Reality vs. Illusion
  • Jealousy/possessiveness
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