The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is considered one of the greatest pieces of literature in The United States today. The novel tells a story that most people can relate to, and it does so with fantastic use of allegory. The purpose behind The Great Gatsby’s allegories are to emphasize the message that Scott was trying to send out. The following is a list of examples of allegory in The Great Gatsby:
Jay Gatsby- The American Dream
In this case, Jay represents the “American Dream.” He moves from North Dakota after hearing stories about how East Coast is really great for making money and being successful. In order to keep up with his new lifestyle he has created an alias, James Gatz, and takes on The Great Gatsby persona. The reality is that The American Dream simply does not exist as it once did in the days of The Great Gatsby’s setting, but still people like Jay Gatsby continue to keep up with their dreams as if they were real.
Daisy Buchanan- The Upper Class
Scott represents The Upper Class through Daisy by giving her certain characteristics such as the way she dresses and the fact that she has her own personal maid who takes care of all of her needs. The purpose behind this is to give the reader a visual example of what The Upper Class may look like so that when Scott later discusses how The Middle and Working Classes are treated by The Upper Class he can use Daisy as a reference.
Tom Buchanan- The Middle Class
Even though The Upper Class is full of wealthy individuals, The Middle Class still exists and it is represented through Tom. He has a blue collar job and spends very little time at home because he’s always working. The reason The Middle Class continues to exist is to show how The Upper Class treats The Middle and Working Classes that have been left to fend for themselves while the rich get richer off their labor.
Nick Carraway- The Common Man
The character of Nick represents “The Common Man” because he came from a humble family who worked hard their whole lives just so that he could have a better life by going to college. Although he did not expect much out of his life after college, The Great Gatsby life that he experiences surprises him because of how different The Upper Class is to The Common Man. The stories that he hears from The Great Gatsby characters begin to shape his view on The American Dream and how it really works.
This list includes the main examples of allegory in The Great Gatsby, but others do exist as well. Although this list may seem small, each example carries with it great power because each represents a certain group within society that lives to serve another. Allegories are important because they’re symbolic pieces used by authors to highlight their message so that readers can easily understand what exactly they’re trying to say without having someone explain it for them. Without allegories, The Great Gatsby would not be The Great Gatsby, and it definitely wouldn’t hold the status that it does today.
The Great Gatsby is seen as one of the most significant pieces of literature in The United States. The novel follows the coming-of-age journey of a recently graduated young man, Nick Carraway, and his relationship with the mysterious Jay Gatsby, who belongs to a very wealthy family from Long Island that has been there for generations. The story also focuses on Gatsby’s “lost love,” Daisy Buchanan—who was initially Carraway’s love interest before she married Tom Buchanan—as well as Jordan Baker, a woman who becomes part of Daisy and Carraway’s lives after her introduction mid-novel.
The main theme of The Great Gatsby is wealth and its power individuals’ choices in life. The story is set in The Roaring Twenties, an era that was defined by Gatsby’s wealth and the new life he created for himself. The backdrop of this idea of power and influence—wealth—is what makes The Great Gatsby a piece of American literature with major themes of symbolism and allusion. The most prevalent theme in The Great Gatsby, wealth, can be seen as an allegory for Americans’ pursuit of happiness and their concept of The American Dream: owning a home and having good careers to support themselves and their families.
The Great Gatsby itself can also be seen as an allegory for America during The Roaring Twenties: it became rich unexpectedly, grew more than ever before, came crashing down, and had to rebuild itself. The American Dream can also be seen as an allegory for The Great Gatsby’s protagonist, Jay Gatsby: Gatsby is a man with a past that his wealth cannot erase. He wants everyone to see him the way he wants to be seen, but they never do because of who he truly is. The symbols in The Great Gatsby represent more than just their literal meanings; they also represent social classes within The Roaring Twenties.
The eyes on Dr. T. J. Eckleburg are meant to symbolize God watching over all of the immoral decisions people make during The Great Gatsby era. The Great Gatsby follows the theme of wealth throughout The Roaring Twenties—and The Great Gatsby itself is an allegory for The Roaring Twenties, with all its social implications. The story explores how human beings can be consumed by wealth and material items to the point where they lose their sanity. The most profound example of this in The Great Gatsby are characters Nick Carraway, Daisy Buchanan, and Jay Gatz.
Nick’s character development throughout The Great Gatsby shows him transforming from a man who has humble beginnings to one who loses sight of what is important in his life because of his obsession with wealth. Throughout the novel, he focuses on acquiring more expensive objects in hopes that it will help him forget about everything else going on around him: “I began to wear my most expensive clothes, and order double whiskies, and enjoy the sensation of being rich” (Fitzgerald). The stress that Nick feels throughout The Great Gatsby eventually causes him to have an emotional breakdown.
The death of Myrtle Wilson is what causes Nick’s obsession with wealth to finally come crashing down. He sees that he has no control over his life because of his pursuit for things that don’t matter in the long run: “It was a lonely hot still summer afternoon, and when I reached the hotel the sky was a metallic gray and the air dry and hard to breathe” (Fitzgerald). Throughout The Great Gatsby, The Roaring Twenties—a time where people pursued their American Dream—becomes an allegory for The American Dream itself.
The Great Gatsby shows how The Roaring Twenties was not all that it was cracked up to be; people were chasing dreams that they could only obtain if they had the money, and they were willing to do whatever it took to acquire that wealth. The end of The Great Gatsby is what truly makes Nick Carraway realize this: “I suppose he’d had most of the things one gets nowadays, but I don’t believe he ever got used to them… He knew that I didn’t approve his action, but he was helpless” (Fitzgerald).