The Great Gatsby Themes, Motifs & Symbols

The Great Gatsby Themes

The Decline of the American Dream in the 1920s

On the surface, The Great Gatsby is a tale of the turned away really like between a man and a woman. The significant style of the novel, however, features a larger, less enchanting opportunity. Though all of its action arises over a simple few months during summer time months season duration of 1922 and is set in a circumscribed regional area in the location of Long Island, New York, The Great Gatsby is a highly outstanding relaxation on Twenties The United States as a whole, in particular the disintegration of the Nationwide dream in an era of unrivaled success and material excess.

Through The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald shows the Twenties as an era of corroded public and significant principles, confirmed in its overarching cynicism, avarice, and clear search of satisfaction. The reckless jubilant that led to self-indulgent events and outrageous jazz music—epitomized in The Great Gatsby by the luxurious events that Gatsby punches every Saturday night—resulted eventually in the data file corruption error of the nationwide dream, as the unrestrained wish for cash and satisfaction surpass more respectable goals. When World War I ended to 1918, the technology of young Individuals who had conducted the war became extremely frustrated; as the intense carnage that they had just experienced created the Victorian social values of early twentieth century The United States seem like rigid, clear hypocrisy. The mind-blowing increase of the currency markets in the consequences of the war led to a rapid, continual increase in the national huge selection and an increased materialism, as people started to spend and eat at unrivaled levels. A person from any public qualifications could, possibly, make a bundle, but the nationwide aristocracy—families with old wealth—scorned the recently vibrant industrialists and investors. In addition, the statement of the 18th Amendment in 1919, which suspended the sale of alcohol, designed a blooming underworld designed to fulfill the large demand for bootleg spirits among vibrant and inadequate as well.

Fitzgerald opportunities people of The Great Gatsby as designs of these public styles. Nick and Gatsby, both of whom conducted in World War I, display the increased cosmopolitanism and cynicism that head from the war. The various public climbers and serious investors who go to Gatsby’s events proof the money struggle for huge selection. The battle between “old money” and “new money” exhibits itself in the novel’s outstanding geography: East Egg signifies the established nobility, West Egg the self-made vibrant. Meyer Wolfshiem and Gatsby’s bundle show the increase of structured criminal activity and bootlegging.

In The Great Gatsby, as Fitzgerald saw it (and as Nick describes in chapter 9), the American dream was initially about development, personal picture, and the search of pleasure. In the Twenties represented in the novel, however, fast cash and comfortable public principles have damaged this dream, especially on the East Coast. The significant plotline of the novel shows this evaluation, as Gatsby’s desire nurturing Daisy is damaged by the difference in their specific public statuses, his relying on criminal activity to make enough cash to enlighten her, and the widespread materialism that characterizes her way of life. In addition, locations and items in The Great Gatsby have indicating only because people generate them with meaning: the eyes of Physician T. J. Eckleburg best model this idea. In Nick’s ideas, the ability to make significant signs is really a central part of the American dream, as beginning Individuals put in their new country with their own beliefs and principles.

Nick measures up the natural volume of The United States growing from the beach to the natural lamination at the end of Daisy’s connect. Just as Individuals have given The United States indicating through their ambitions for their own life, Gatsby instills Daisy with a kind of idealized efficiency that she neither should get nor offers. Gatsby’s dream is damaged by the unworthiness of its item, just as the American dream in the Twenties is damaged by the unworthiness of its object—money and satisfaction. Like Twenties Many people, fruitlessly searching for a past era in which their ambitions had value, Gatsby wants to re-create a faded past—his period in Louisville with Daisy—but is not capable of doing so. When his dream crumbles, all that is left for Gatsby to do is dying; all Nick can do is switch back to Minnesota, where American principles have not corroded.

The Hollowness of the Higher Class

One of the significant issues elaborate in The Great Gatsby is the sociology of huge selection, specifically, how the recently produced riches of the Twenties change from and connect with the old nobility of the nation’s wealthiest family members and how they different. In the novel, West Egg and its denizens characterize the recently vibrant, while China Egg and its denizens, especially Daisy and Tom, characterize the old nobility. Fitzgerald shows the recently vibrant as being vulgar, showy, over the top, and missing in public graces and flavor. Gatsby, such as, life in a monstrously elaborate house, would wear a pink suit, driving a Rolls-Royce, and does not pick up on simple public indicators, such as the insincerity of the Sloanes’ invite to meal. In comparison, the old nobility offers elegance, flavor, seductively, and magnificence, epitomized by the Buchanans’ classy home and the streaming white outfits of Daisy and Jordan Baker.

What the old nobility offers in flavor, however, it seems to absence in center, as the East Eggers confirm themselves reckless, thoughtless bullies who are so used to money’s capability to ease their brains that they never worry about hurting others. The Buchanans model this label when, at the end of the novel, they basically switch to a new house far away than condescend to go to Gatsby’s funeral. Gatsby, however, whose recent huge wealth takes from criminal activity, has a trustworthy and devoted heart, staying outside Daisy’s window until four in the early morning in The Great Gatsby (Chapter 7) basically to make sure that Tom does not harm her. Surprisingly, Gatsby’s good attributes (loyalty and love) head to his loss of life, as he requires the responsibility for killing Myrtle and not allowing Daisy be tried, and the Buchanans’ bad attributes (fickleness and selfishness) allow them to drop themselves from the loss not only actually but emotionally.

The Great Gatsby Motifs


Throughout The Great Gatsby novel, locations and settings epitomize the various factors of the 1920s American world that Fitzgerald represents. East Egg signifies the old nobility, West Egg the recently vibrant, the valley of ashes the significant and public corrosion of The United States, and New York City area the uninhibited, amoral pursuit for cash and satisfaction. In addition, the East is attached to the significant corrosion and public cynicism of New York, while the West (including Midwestern and northern areas such as Minnesota) is attached to more traditional public principles and beliefs. Nick’s evaluation in Chapter 9 of the tale he has related shows his understanding to this dichotomy: though it is set in the East, the tale is really one of the West, as it informs how people initially from west of the Appalachians (as all the significant characters are) respond to the speed and style of life on the East Coast.


As in much of Shakespeare’s drama, the weather in The Great Gatsby unfailingly suits the psychological and narrative style of the tale. Gatsby and Daisy’s gathering starts among a serving water, demonstrating difficult and melancholy; their love for each other reawakened just as the sun starts to come out. Gatsby’s climactic conflict with Tom happens on the very hot day of summer time, under the warm sun (like the lethal experience between Mercutio and Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet). Wilson murders Gatsby on the first day of fall, as Gatsby drifts in his share despite a palpable cool in the air—an outstanding significant attempt to stop some time to recover his relationship with Daisy to the way it was five years before, in 1917.

The Great Gatsby Symbols

The Green Light

In The Great Gatsby novel, Situated at the end of Daisy’s East Egg connect and hardly noticeable from Gatsby’s West Egg garden, the natural lamination (the green light) signifies Gatsby’s desires and ambitions for the future. Gatsby contacts it with Daisy, and in Chapter 1 he actually reaches toward it in the night as a helping light to head him to his goal. Because Gatsby’s pursuit for Daisy is commonly associated with the United States’ dream, the natural lamination (the green light) also signifies that more general ideal. In Chapter 9, Nick measures up the green light to how The United States, growing out of the ocean, must have looked to beginning residents of the new country.

The Valley of Ashes

In The Great Gatsby novel, First presented in Chapter 2, the valley of ashes between West Egg and New York involves long expand of desperate land designed by the disposal of business ashes. It signifies the significant and public corrosion that results from the uninhibited search of wealth, as the vibrant take pleasure in them with reverence for nothing but their own satisfaction. The valley of ashes also signifies the circumstances of the inadequate, like George Wilson, who live among the filthy ashes and lose their energy as a result.

The Eyes of Physician T. J. Eckleburg

Through The Great Gatsby, the eyes of Physician T. J. Eckleburg are a couple of removal, bespectacled eyes colored on an old advertising billboard over the area of ashes. They may characterize God gazing down upon and knowing American world as a significant wilderness, though the novel never makes this point clearly. Instead, throughout the novel, Fitzgerald indicates that signs only have indicating because people generate them with indicating. The network between the eyes of Physician T. J. Eckleburg and God prevails only in Wilson’s grief-stricken ideas. This insufficient definite relevance results in the disturbing characteristics of the image. Thus, the eyes also come to characterize the essential meaninglessness on the planet and the arbitrariness of the psychological process by which people spend items with indicating. Nick looks at these ideas in Chapter 8, when he thinks Gatsby’s conclusion as a frustrated consideration of the avoidance of signs and ambitions in The Great Gatsby novel.


The Great Gatsby Analysis of Major Characters

The Great Gatsby Major Characters

Jay Gatsby

The main personality of The Great Gatsby is a youthful man, around 36 old, who increased from a poor younger generation in non-urban North Dakota to become wonderfully abundant. However, he obtained this real goal by doing structured criminal action, such as disbursing unlawful alcoholic beverages and trading in thieved investments. From his beginning younger age, Gatsby hated lower-income and desired huge selection and sophistication—he lowered out of St. Olaf’s College after only two weeks because he could not carry the cleaning job with which he was paying his expenses. Though Gatsby has always desired to be vibrant, his major commitment in obtaining his bundle was his really like for Daisy Buchanan, whom he met as a youthful army specialist in Louisville before making to deal with in World War I in 1917. Gatsby instantly lowered in really like with Daisy’s feel of extravagance, elegance, and appeal, and protect to her about his own qualifications if you want to persuade her that he was excellent enough for her. Daisy guaranteed to delay for him when he gradually left for the war, but committed Tom Buchanan in 1919, while Gatsby was studying at Oxford after the war in trying to gain training. From that moment on, Gatsby specific himself to win Daisy again, and getting cash, his purchase of a showy house on West Egg, and his magnificent regular activities are all merely means to that end in The Great Gatsby.

Fitzgerald delays to release of most of this information until pretty overdue in the novel. Gatsby’s popularity comes before him—Gatsby himself does not seem in a discussing function until Chapter 3. Fitzgerald at first provides Gatsby as the aloof, enigmatic coordinator of the extremely luxurious activities arranged every week at his house. He seems to be ornamented by amazing extravagance, courted by highly effective men and wonderful women. He is the patient matter of a flutter of news throughout New York and is already a kind of famous superstar before he is ever presented to readers. Fitzgerald activates the The Great Gatsby novel forward through the beginning sections by shrouding Gatsby’s qualifications and the source of his huge selection in secret (the audience understands about Gatsby’s younger age in Chapter 6 and gets specified confirmation of his illegal activities in Chapter 7). Consequently, the reader’s first, far away thoughts of Gatsby reach a different be aware from that of the lovesick, trusting youthful man who emerged during the later part of the The Great Gatsby novel.

Fitzgerald uses this strategy of overdue personality thought to stress the theatrical excellent of Gatsby’s lifestyle, which is an integral part of his individuality. Gatsby has basically created his own personality, even modifying his name from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby to characterize his reinvention of himself. As his constant search for Daisy shows, Gatsby has an incredible ability to enhance his needs and ambitions into reality; at the beginning of the The Great Gatsby novel, he seems to people just as he needs to seem to the globe. This ability for self-invention is what gives Gatsby his excellent of “greatness”: indeed, the title “The Great Gatsby” is like billings for such vaudeville masters of magic as “The Great Houdini” and “The Great Blackstone,” hinting that the personality of Jay Gatsby is a wonderful impression.

As the The Great Gatsby novel advances and Fitzgerald deconstructs Gatsby’s self-presentation, Gatsby shows himself to be a simple, optimistic youthful man who levels everything on his ambitions, not acknowledging that his ambitions are not ought to have him. Gatsby spends Daisy with an idealistic efficiency that she cannot possibly get in fact and chases her with an enthusiastic energy that shades him to her restrictions. His fantasy of her drops apart, disclosing the data file corruption error that huge selection causes and the unworthiness of the goal, much in the way Fitzgerald recognizes the American fantasy failing in the Twenties, as Our country’s highly effective aspiration, energy, and personal reputation become subordinated to the amoral search of huge selection.

Gatsby is compared most continually with Nick. Critics point out that the former, enthusiastic and effective, and the latter, alcoholic beverages free and echoing, seem to characterize two factors of Fitzgerald’s individuality. Additionally, where Tom is a cold-hearted, aristocratic intimidate, Gatsby is a devoted and good-hearted man. Though his way of life and mind-set change much from those of George Wilson, Gatsby and Wilson show that they both drop their really like interest to Tom.

The Great Gatsby Supporting Narrator

Nick Carraway

If Gatsby signifies one part of Fitzgerald’s individuality, the fancy superstar who chased and glorified huge selection if he wants to enlighten the woman he beloved, then Nick signifies another part: the silent, echoing Midwesterner adrift in the lurid East. A youthful man (he changes 30 during the course of The Great Gatsby novel) from Minnesota, Nick trips to New York in 1922 to learn the rapport business. His is living in the West Egg Long Island, next door to Gatsby. Nick is also Daisy’s relation, which allows him to see and help the resurgent connection between Daisy and Gatsby. Due to his connection to these two people, Nick is the perfect choice to narrate the The Great Gatsby novel, which features as a personal precious moment of his encounters with Gatsby in the summer of 1922.

Nick is also well suitable for narrating The Great Gatsby because of his disposition. As he informs audience in Chapter 1, he is understanding, open-minded, silent, and an excellent audience, and, because of this, others usually talk to him and tell him their techniques and secrets as well. Gatsby, in particular, comes to believe in him and cure him as an acquaintance. Nick generally represents another function throughout the The Great Gatsby novel, choosing to explain and thoughts on activities than control the action. Often, however, he features as Fitzgerald’s speech, as in his prolonged relaxation on time and the American fantasy at the end of Chapter 9.

Insofar as Nick performs a function inside the story, he facts a clearly combined respond to life on the East Coast, one that makes a highly effective inner issue that he does not deal with until the end of the The Great Gatsby novel. On the one side, Nick is drawn to the fast-paced, fun-driven way of daily lifetime of New York . However, he discovers that way of life repulsive and destructive. This inner issue is displayed throughout the The Great Gatsby novel by Nick’s enchanting romance with Jordan Baker. He is drawn to her vivacity and her complexity just as he is repelled by her lying and her lack of reason for other people.

Nick declares that there is a “quality of distortion” to life in New York, and this way of life makes him drop his stability, especially beginning in the The Great Gatsby novel, as when he gets intoxicated at Gatsby’s party in Chapter 2. After seeing the unraveling of Gatsby’s fantasy and presiding over the dreadful vision of Gatsby’s Funeral, Nick acknowledges that the quick daily lifetime of revelry on the East Coast is a cover for the horrific significant avoid that the area of ashes signifies. Having obtained the maturation that this understanding shows, his dividends to Minnesota in search of a calmer life arranged by more conventional significant principles.

The Great Gatsby Leading Lady

Daisy Buchanan

Partially based on Fitzgerald’s spouse, Zelda, Daisy is a wonderful youthful woman from Louisville, The Kentucky. She is Nick’s relation and the object of Gatsby’s really like. As a youthful debutante in Louisville, Daisy was popular among the army authorities positioned near her home, such as Jay Gatsby. Gatsby protect about his qualifications to Daisy, declaring to be from an abundant household if you want to persuade her that he was ought to have her. Eventually, Gatsby won Daisy’s heart, and they made really like before Gatsby gradually left to deal with in the war. Daisy guaranteed to delay for Gatsby, but in 1919 she select instead to wed Tom Buchanan, a youthful man from a strong, aristocratic household who could guarantee her an abundant way of life and who had the support of her mom and dad.

After 1919, Gatsby specific himself to successful Daisy again, making her the single goal of all of his ambitions and the major commitment behind his is getting tremendous huge selection through illegal action. To Gatsby, Daisy signifies the paragon of perfection—she has the feel of appeal, huge selection, complexity, elegance, and nobility that he desired as a child in North Dakota and that first drawn him to her. In actuality, however, Daisy drops far short of Gatsby’s beliefs. She is wonderful and wonderful, but also changeable, short, tired, and sardonic. Nick characterizes her as a reckless person who smashes things up and then vacations behind her cash. Daisy shows her real characteristics when she selects Tom over Gatsby in Chapter 7, and then allows Gatsby to take the responsibility for murdering Myrtle Wilson even though she herself was driving the car. Lastly, than go to Gatsby’s funeral, Daisy and Tom move away, making no sending deal with.

Like Zelda Fitzgerald, Daisy is in really like with cash, convenience, and materials extravagance. She is capable of love (she seems truly attached to Nick and sometimes seems to really like Gatsby sincerely), but not of continual commitment or care. She is unsociable even to her own baby child, never talking about her and healing her as a postscript when she is presented in Chapter 7. In Fitzgerald’s perception of the America declares in the Twenties, Daisy signifies the amoral principles of the aristocratic East Egg set in The Great Gatsby.