The first time I read ''The Great Gatsby'' by Francis Scott Fitzgerald I thought that it was only the story of a man. But later, I realized that it had a deeper meaning due to the use of symbols. So symbolism is a very important device in the configuration of the story. The purpose of this essay is, precisely, to analyse the use of symbolism in the novel.The Jazz Age was an epoch of dreams and possibilities, of parties and pleasures, of consumerism, economic growth and social changes but it was also an epoch of gangsters and corruption, of ambition and greed. All these is portrayed in the novel the Great Gatsby through elaborated symbols. Characters, colours and spaces are used as symbol of the most important aspects of the Jazz Age by the author.Firstly, the most important symbolic characters are analysed. Gatsby is, perhaps, the most relevant symbol in the novel. He is the symbol of the American dream, a national emblem of the UUEE. Historically, it is traced back to the founding fathers who went to America looking for their promised land. Later, it was reflected in the Declaration of Independence ''all men are created equal, that theyare endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness'' (National archives web). Gatsby represents very well this idea. Although his origins are lowly ''His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful'' (Fitzgerald, 2008:78), he amasses an immense fortune. He is the prototype of a self-made man, something taken to a literal senseby Fitzgerald. Gatsby took the name Jay Gatsby as his own and reinvented his life ''I am the son of some wealthy people in the Middle West'' (Fitzgerald, 2008:52). Moreover, he has his particular American dream. As Inge comments, he wants ''to repeat the one golden moment of his life'' (Kirkpatrick, 1987:219). He wants Daisy to come back to him. He thinks that the only way to achieve it is byaccumulating a great fortune and luxurious and expensive goods and objects. But, as Magill comment, Gatsby ''fails to understand that he cannot recapture the past'' (1985:499): ''Can't repeat the past?” [...]“Why of course you can!'' (Fitzgerald, 2008:88). His dream is impossible because his fortune is obtained by criminal activities and not by humble work. Gatsby is an example of how in the twentiesthe American dream was synonym of becoming rich and wealthy without taking care of the moral values reflected in the declaration. In the twenties there were other values: money, luxury, pleasure, ambition and avarice which corrupted the American dream and made Gatsby not to achieve it.
Myrtle Wilson is also a symbol of the American dream. She is a poor woman married to George Wilson, a poorworker. She also has an American dream: to ascend in the social scale and to be a wealthy woman. To achieve that, she sullies the marriage vow of fidelity and becomes Tom Buchanan's lover. For her, wealthy, pleasure and luxury are the most important things in life. But, as Gatsby, she does not achieve her American dream precisely due to her lack of morality.
Gatsby and Mirtle dies at the end of thenovel. As they are a symbol of the American dream, it means that this myth also dies when it is associated to ambition, avarice and dishonesty. These symbolic characters are used by Fitzgerald to criticize the excess and the lack of morality of the twenties.
Another symbolic character is Daisy Buchanan. She is Gatsby's dream. But apart from that, she is a symbol of the conservative woman of thetwenties. When she relates her child's birth, she defines the role assigned to woman at that epoch ''that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool'' (Fitzgerald, 2008:17). Women only has to be beautiful and sophisticated and it is precisely how she describes herself. ''I am sophisticated'' (Fitzgerald, 2008:17). At that epoch woman has a traditional role: to be a good...