How does F. Scott Fitzgerald portray the American Dream in The Great Gatsby through his use of symbolism and other literary devices?
Fitzgerald uses a variety of literary devices and symbols to portray the illusory nature of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby. One prominent symbol in the book is the the green light that represents Gatsby’s hopes and dreams for a life with Daisy. Another symbol is the Valley of the Ashes, which represents the ugly consequences of America’s obsession with wealth.
Fitzgerald uses many different mediums to express his views on the "American Dream." In fact, the entire novel can be seen as a commentary on the subject. One symbolic way in which he shows his disenchantment with the "American Dream" is his stark contrast between the haves and the have-nots. East and West Egg are separated to show the difference between new and old money. Fitzgerald comments on the idea that the American Dream is a hoax and one must be born into money in order to reap the benefits. Gatsby, although rich on his own, will never be like Daisy or Tom. The vast lake symbolizes the vast separation between the classes, even if they intermingle at times. Also, the valley of ashes is described very differently from the other places in the novel. Literally "on the other side of the tracks," this place is described using dark colors and depressing imagery . This symbolizes the divide between the physically and metaphorically far-apart classes. The poor will never have what the wealthy...
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Fitzgerald portrays the American Dream in The Great Gatsby in a variety of ways, but the most apparent is in the characters of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, who are together a symbol for the American Dream.
The American Dream historically has been viewed as the promise that those who come to America will "make it" in life and rise to success if they are hard workers. Gatsby's work is suspect, but there is no doubt that he is determined to both rise in life and win Daisy back. If Gatsby represents hard work and dedication, then Daisy represents the money, success, and ultimate happiness that Gatsby hopes to arrive at.
If Daisy is the happiness and success of the American Dream, and Gatsby is the work and determination, then it follows that Tom Buchanan represents America's immorality: the murderer of the American Dream. In the end, Tom sends Wilson to shoot Gatsby, and then takes Daisy for himself, symbolizing a corruption of the American Dream in which immorality leads to happiness and work is not necessarily rewarded.