The Great Gatsby - Themes, Motifs and Symbols

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A-Level English Literature (AS English Literature) Flashcards on The Great Gatsby - Themes, Motifs and Symbols, created by samanthaball.x on 05/06/2015.

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Created by samanthaball.x over 4 years ago
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Question Answer
The Decline of the American Dream in the 1920s (Themes) - Symbolic meditation on 1920s America as a whole the American dream in an era of unprecedented prosperity and material excess -
The Hollowness of the Upper Class (Themes) - West Egg and its denizens represent the newly rich, while East Egg and its denizens - Newly rich are vulgar, gaudy, ostentatious, lack social graces and taste - Old aristocracy possesses grace, taste, subtlety, and elegance
Geography (Motifs) - Places and settings epitomize the various aspects of the 1920s American society - East Egg represents the old aristocracy - West Egg the newly rich - The valley of ashes the moral and social decay of America - New York City the uninhibited, amoral quest for money and pleasure - East is connected to the moral decay and social cynicism of New York - West (including Midwestern and northern areas such as Minnesota) is connected to more traditional social values and ideals
Weather (Motifs) - The weather matches the emotional and narrative tone of the story - Gatsby and Daisy’s reunion begins amid a pouring rain, proving awkward and melancholy - Their love reawakens just as the sun begins to come out - Gatsby’s climactic confrontation with Tom occurs on the hottest day of the summer - Wilson kills Gatsby on the first day of autumn, as Gatsby floats in his pool despite a palpable chill in the air
The Green Light (Symbols) - Represents Gatsby’s hopes and dreams for the future - Gatsby associates it with Daisy; in Chapter 1 he reaches toward it in the darkness as a guiding light to lead him to his goal - "the american dream"
The Valley of Ashes (Symbols) - A long stretch of desolate land created by the dumping of industrial ashes - Represents moral and social decay that results from uninhibited pursuit of wealth, as rich indulge with regard for nothing but their own pleasure. - Symbolises plight of the poor, like George Wilson, who live among the dirty ashes and lose their vitality as a result
Fitzgerald and Meanings - Instead, throughout the novel, suggests that symbols only have meaning because characters instill them with meaning