he Great GatsbyRik Wyatt
The Symbolism of Houses and Cars
Francis Scott Fitzgeralds novel, The Great Gatsby, is full of symbolism, which is portrayed by the houses and cars in an array of ways. One of the more important qualities of symbolism within The Great Gatsby, is the way in which it is so completely incorporated into the plot and structure. Symbols such as Gatsbys house, symbolize material wealth.
Gatsbys house is a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy is a symbol of Gatsbys large illegal income(9). Gatsbys large income isnt enough The house he feels he needs in order to win happiness and it is also the perfect symbol of carelessness with money which is a major part of his personality (Bewley 24). Gatsbys house like his car symbolizes his vulgar and excessive trait of getting attention. Gatzs house is a mixture of different styles and periods which symbolizes an owner who does not know their true identity.The Buchanans house is symbolic of their ideals.
East Egg is home to the more prominent established wealth families. Toms and Daisys home is on the East Egg. Their house, a red and white Georgian Colonial mansion overlooking the bay, is just as impressive as Gatsbys house but much more low-key (11). East egg and Toms home represents the established wealth and traditions. Their stable wealth, although lacking the vulgarity of new wealth, is symbolic of their empty future and now purposelessness lives together. The House also has a cold sense to it according to Nick. This sense symbolizes Toms brute ness, and as Perkins’s said in his
manuscript to Fitzgerald I would know…Buchanan if I met him and would avoid him, because Tom is so cold and brute (Perkins 199).
Nick lives in West Egg in a rented house that is a small eye-sore and had
been overlooked(10). Nick lives in a new-rich West Egg because he is not wealthy enough to afford a house in the more prominent East Egg. His house symbolizes himself shy and overlooked. Nick is the Narrator and also the trust worthy reporter and, …judge that has ties to both the East and West Egg crowd(Bruccoli xii). Nick comes from a prominent, well-to-do family acts like the established rich down-played, but he is trying to make it on his own and his house located in West Egg symbolizes this(7). Another person who lives on the nouveau-rich West Egg is Gatsby.
Wilson a blonde, spiritless man lives in his unprosperous and bare garage(29)(29). His home symbolizes what he is, a mechanic, and is located in the valley of ashes overlooked by the eyes of Dr. Eckleburg. The eyes of Dr. Eckleburg brood on over the solemn dumping ground of Wilsons house (28). The valley of ashes in which Wilsons house is located in symbolizes the moral decay that hides behind the facade of wealth and happiness. The valley is home of Toms mistress, Myrtle Wilson, the wife of the owner of a garage in the ash heaps that lie along the road about halfway between West Egg and Manhattan, and is incidentally fitting(Bruccoli 10). The eyes that look over Wilsons home also have a symbolic meaning. They symbolically sit in judgment on all the sleaze displayed by the inhabitants of East and West egg who pass through the valley of ashes.
The car plays a major role that makes a regular appearance in the story. In the
American Society the car is always seen as a symbol of status. Gatsbys car is an embodiment of his wealth. His car is symbolic of many things, among them the disillusioned, reckless, frenetic spirit of the youthful owner(Rudin 160). His car
symbolizes his vulgar materialism and conveys his newborn affluence. Gatsbys car is a rich cream color, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hat-boxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of windshields that mirrored a dozen suns obviously shows his materialism(68). Another interesting detail is Gatsbys car is yellow instead of the standardized black of the era stresses the thought that he is engrossed with the obsession of displaying his material wealth to get the love of Daisy. The Death car is yellow, and in the novel yellow symbolizes money and corruption in the novel. The creamy color of Gatsbys car also symbolizes decay of corruption; therefore Gatsbys car is like a bulging piece of fruit that is overripe and has started to rot. Gatsbys meticulous attention to detail … compliments the personage of himself and the things he possess that symbolize him (Lehan 59). Tom Buchanans car is also not like all the standardized black cars because he drives a black car, a coupe which is a lot less showy than Gatsbys Rolls Royce(148). Tom is so desperately an empty man that he believes he can define himself with exterior belongings. He is trying to find his identity by looking for happiness in nice cars. Toms blue coupe symbolizes Tom and his emptiness because his car is a cheap car that is like everyone else’s car at that time period but it has a blue paint job setting it apart from the others and appearing to be better than all the other cars in that era. While the cars in The Great Gatsby symbolize what the person is like the houses symbolize who the
Fitzgerald truly uses symbolism to convey his themes in The Great Gatsby. The
symbolism of houses show the corruptive effect money can have on everyone. The symbolism of the car and house is stressed all throughout the novel and is used to confirm that a dream rooted in materialism alone will in the end always be disparaging.
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New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995. vii-xvi.
Bruccoli, Matthew. The Price Was High: The Last Uncollected Series Of Francis Scott Fitzgerald. Dictionary of Literary Biography. 1981 ed.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. 1925. New York: Simon & Schuster,
Lehan, Richard. The Great Gatsby: The Limits of Wonder. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1990.
Perkins. Afterword. The Great Gatsby. By Francis Fitzgerald. 1925. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
Rudin, Seymour. Fitzgerald, Francis Scott Key. New Age Encyclopedia. 1978 ed.
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