Homework Help

Give two examples  of imagery and their purposes in "The Great Gatsby."

user profile pic

courttotheney | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 7, 2009 at 9:44 AM via web

dislike 2 like

Give two examples  of imagery and their purposes in "The Great Gatsby."

3 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

lit24 | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted August 7, 2009 at 11:38 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

The two striking images in the novel are:

1. The billboard for Dr. Eckleburg ("the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg" Ch.2): it represents sight/insight (and therefore also blindness, only someone who cannot see properly will wear spectacles)--no character  really seems to grasp what is truly going on, and they  really have very little self-knowledge or knowledge of one another (especially Daisy). Even Gatsby is 'blind'--he is so blinded by his dream that he never sees Daisy for what/who she is, and never quite sees himself. The only character who really "sees" is the focaliser Nick.

2. The "Valley of Ashes"  ("a certain desolate area of land. This is a valley of ashes" Ch.2.) between West and East Egg: it represents the moral decay of an America that has become obsessed with the material wealth and greed and self indulgence.

Top Answer

user profile pic

dbello | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted August 7, 2009 at 4:31 PM (Answer #2)

dislike 1 like

The imagery the reader experiences when Daisy is brought to tears when she sees all of Gatsby's shirts confirms where her priorities lie, which does not include the recreation of the past love she had with Gatsby the man....she is taken by his multitude of shirts not Gatsby nor their love affair.

Another example of Fitzgeralds' imagery is the constrast between Gatsby's great parties and his funeral. These two opposing images force the reader to question the worth of materialism verses the value of a true connective relationship with another individual.... It almost takes on the idea that if one sells himself to the 'devil' in exchange for true happiness one might think their fortune is worth the trade off, however in the end money and things cannot buy love between two people. For love shouldn't 'cost' anything, and Nick was the only one who really understood just how much 'love' had 'cost' everyone in the novel.

user profile pic

parkerlee | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted August 7, 2009 at 6:45 PM (Answer #3)

dislike 1 like

Another imagery not to be missed is the colour green in all the subtle (and not so subtle) connotations of the word - Nick Carraway, the "greenhorn" newcomer to New England and the wistful onlooker of Gatsby's mondaine world; jealousy as a leit motif throughout the story line ("green with envy"); green portraying the lust for money and sex.. and the list goes on. Check out the following reference for further details concerning this.

Another symbol is the geographical location of "East Egg" and "West Egg," and the divide between them. Fitzgerald creates a "social chasm" between the two which cannot be bridged. The idea of 'new money' and 'old wealth' and the pretentiousness of both is indeed the support for one of the main themes, both worlds being a part of Fitzgerald's "Lost Generation."

Finally, the characters themselves are archetypes. Although their individual personalities do indeed come across, they nevertheless represent 'types' more than anything else. The corresponding references below give interesting insight into Fitzgerald's particular use of "stock characters" in 'The Great Gatsby.'

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes