What is the meaning of the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg in The Great Gatsby?

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I am reminded of Stephen Crane's short story "The Blue Hotel." Very near the end of this great story the Swede is killed by the gambler, and this section closes with these final words:

   The corpse of the Swede, alone in the saloon, had its eyes fixed upon a dreadful legend that dwelt a-top of the cash-machine. "This registers the amount of your purchase."

No doubt the billboard showing the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg is intended to have the same effect on the reader. Crane apparently calls the sign on tope of the cash-machine "a dreadful legend" because it is totally meaningless as applied to the death that has just taken place. The same may be true of the eyes of Dr. Eckleburg. They see nothing and care nothing about the passing parade of humanity with their hopes and dreams. If life is meaningless, then any legend attached to any man's life or death would seem to be equally appropriate. 

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Yes, the doctor's eyes are symbolic.  They see everything.  All of the decadence and poor choices that characters make happen under his watch.  The billboard is very creepy!  Its use in the story reminds us that even when we think no one is watching, someone is.

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Near the end of the novel, Wilson and Michaelis discuss the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg being like the eyes of God.  In addition, I think the eyes might also represent the characters’ views of themselves.  Wilson says that the eyes will always see what a person has done wrong which suggests that a person always knows his/her rights and wrongs.  For all her reasons, Myrtle knows that she has done the wrong thing by having an affair with Tom, and Wilson’s mention of the eyes points to the retribution that one must pay for his/her wrongs.

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I get the feeling that it's a little like Big Brother...the characters in this novel feel as though they are being watched and are under scrutiny.  This is especially true for Wilson as he comes to find that he does not live up to his wife's expectations and that she has taken a lover as a replacement or subsititute to make up for Wilson's shortcomings.  The eyes are always there...staring...blue in the gray surroundings of this industrial area.  They are unchanging, but the only color in a rather drab setting.  Perhaps, in their own way, they signify that the American Dream can be acheived...that you don't have to settle for gray.  You can reach higher and become something of color.  Myrtle certainly was trying.

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