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'the Symbolism of the Great Gatsby Suggests That Hope Turns to Dust and Ashes.' How Far and in What Ways Do You Agree with This View of the Novel?

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2) 'The symbolism of The Great Gatsby suggests that hope turns to dust and ashes.'

How far and in what ways do you agree with this view of the novel?

The use of symbolism in the novella does portray the idea that dreams and aspirations in this 1920's American society are unable to be achieved. Not all hopes fail in the novella however, such as Tom's wish to keep Daisy even though he has numerous 'sprees', suggesting that the symbolism does not entirely encapsulate the theme of failing ideas. This said, the symbolism used when regarding Gatsby, Myrtle and Nick does suggest that their visions and aspirations are unachievable, yet there are alternative interpretations for the failure of their desires.

Fitzgerald's use of symbolism does evoke the sense that all dreams are doomed to failure, such as the Romantic visions of Nick and Gatsby. Gatsby is obsessed with the 'green light', which could perhaps represent money and wealth, as the colour of the light is also that of the American dollar. Gatsby therefore is obsessed with money, which can be seen through his 'extravagant parties' and his house resembling 'some Hotel de Ville in Normandy', yet his wealth is achieved through crime as he is a 'bootlegger', therefore his dream to be a member of the upper echelons of society cannot be achieved, as he will always remain 'Mr Nobody from Nowhere'. The light could however represent his ultimate dream, which is Daisy, although Gatsby indirectly associates her with money in his own description of her, 'her voice is full of money', she is still unattainable for him, as he is not of wealthy descent, therefore the green light does suggest that all hopes fail, as even when he manages to kiss Daisy and 'the incarnation was complete', Gatsby's 'count of enchanted objects diminished by one', suggesting that the green light no longer holds any real significance to him, thus the symbol of the green light fails Gatsby, and in turn the dream it represented fails also. Nick's Romantic vision of Gatsby cannot be achieved, as Gatsby must fulfil his own desires for Nick's vision of Gatsby being heroic, and living up to his descriptions of being mysterious, evoked by 'when I looked again he had vanished', to be complete. This therefore means that Gatsby is a symbol for Nick's own visions and desires, and although he has smiles with 'eternal reassurance', he will always be corrupt, as he 'represented everything for which I hold unaffected scorn', therefore the symbol of Gatsby himself as Nick's vision is doomed to fail due to his corruption. Gatsby's house, which is described as Nick as 'a colossal affair by any standard', contrasts with the 'ash-gray men' of the 'valley of ashes', suggesting that while Gatsby is rich, others are suffering and are poor, therefore the hopes of those who must live in the valley of ashes cannot be achieved, as they are constantly reminded of their lack of wealth by the ever seeing eyes of 'Dr T.J Eckleburg'.

The contrasting language which is used by Fitzgerald also embodies the idea that the symbolism in the novella suggests the failure of all dreams. The poetic descriptions of characters such as Daisy, with her 'dark, shining hair' and her face which was 'sad and lovely with bright things in it' represent not only the Romantic visions of Nick and Gatsby, but also the idea that Romanticism is opposed to the harsh reality of the modern world, symbolised by the prose of Tom Buchanan with his 'cruel body' and 'rough tenor' and George Wilson, who is trapped in the valley of ashes as a 'spiritless man'. The failure of Nick and Gatsby's Romantic visions suggests that the prose of the modern world defeated it in a sense, and therefore the symbols of the type of language depict a failure of Romanticism, and consequently the hopes of Nick and Gatsby.

The structure of the novella suggests that

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