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Fitzgerald’s Use of Weather Symbolism in The Great Gatsby

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Every story has a setting that indicates a place and time. The context of a setting can enable a story to do more than just exist in a location and period of time. The setting can also portray occurrences by using symbols. One salient symbol that resides in the context of a novel is the weather. In The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, weather is an essential symbol used throughout the story. F. Scott Fitzgerald often uses seasons to narrate the unfolding scenes. He does this with the intention of emphasizing the events, moods and feelings of each character. The changes in seasons are symbolically used to show that weather is never just simply weather. The weather is the most essential symbol F. Scott Fitzgerald uses as it sets the emotional tone and actions of the novel.  This is evident during the days of Gatsby’s reunion with Daisy, the confrontation between Gatsby and Tom, and Gatsby’s funeral.

F. Scott Fitzgerald heavily relies on the weather to emphasize the significance of Gatsby and Daisy’s reunion. Throughout chapter five of the novel, it is a constant downpour of rain. This already sets the mood as gloomy. The downpour of rain can also be taken in a hopeful context as this is what Gatsby hopes to receive from Daisy, a downpour of her positive emotions. Regardless, Gatsby is hopeful and excited to finally see Daisy again. In order to get an opportunity to see her, Gatsby asked his friend, Nick to invite Daisy over for a cup of tea. Gatsby did this with the hopes of being able to join them and having the chance to reconcile with her. “The day agreed upon was pouring rain” (Fitzgerald 81). The rain presents itself as a complication symbolically. Symbolically, the rain can represent the sign of a bad omen. It can also signify a clean start, as the rain is washing away Daisy’s and Gatsby’s past. While Nick and Gatsby wait for Daisy to arrive, Gatsby is evidently nervous. He is so anxious that he tells Nick he is worried Daisy is not going to show. The rain helps to embellish Gatsby’s emotional state and nerves. The image of pouring down rain reflects Gatsby’s hope to live in the past once more with the love of his life, Daisy by his side. When Daisy does show, Gatsby’s nerves do not calm down and he appears nervous, so much that his fingers are “trembling”. Nick decides to leave Daisy and Gatsby alone and discovers that “the rain continued like the murmur of their voices, rising and swelling a little now and then with the gusts emotion” (Fitzgerald 88). The rain continues on and off throughout the conversation, mirroring the flow of their communication. As Nick reenters the room, he notices that Daisy’s face is “smeared in tears”. (89) This implies that both Gatsby and Daisy have been through a whirlwind of emotions since he left them alone. The dried tears show the variability and range of emotions both Daisy and Gatsby were feeling and is reflected in the changing rain patterns. Upon Nick’s arrival, he sees that Gatsby is “literally glowing” (Fitzgerald 89). He also noted that the sun was shining again and presume the pair have resolved their issues. The suns emergence symbolizes Daisy and Gatsby’s rekindled love. The rain stopping is a symbol that exists once Gatsby attains his goal.

The weather during chapter seven is overwhelmingly hot. The rise in temperature can be correlated to the rise of tension within the characters throughout the novel. It also portrays the disasters that are lurking around the corner. This chapter marks the climax of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Early on, Nick describes the day as boiling and even the conductor on his train ride said “Some weather! Hot! Hot! Hot! Is it hot enough for you? Is it hot? Is it?” (Fitzgerald 122). Fitzgerald uses this scene to show the impending misery and doom coming. The fight that unfolds between Tom and Gatsby represents the feelings the two men have had towards one another since they first met. The tension between the two has been bottled up until this point in the novel. As the tension rises, so does the heat. To avoid arguments, Daisy decides that herself, Tom, Nick, Jordan, and Gatsby should meet at the Biltmore Hotel in New York City. While they are there, Tom gets angered when Gatsby says, “I’ve got something to tell you, old sport” (Fitzgerald 139). During the fight, Gatsby told Tom ‘She never loved you, do you hear? She only married you because I was poor, and she was tired of waiting for me. It was a terrible mistake, but in her heart, she never loved anyone except me” (Fitzgerald 139). Per Gatsby’s insistence, Daisy, almost robotically agrees that she never did love Tom. Tom seemed genuinely shocked and hurt by her statement. The heat from the burn of her words was equivalent to the temperature of boiling water. He then presses Daisy to refute her previous statement. Tom’s pestering forced Daisy to admit that yes, of course she loved him. Tom erupts by hollering at Gatsby and begins to reveal all of the information about Gatsby’s illegal business deals. When this news is revealed, it is apparent that Daisy does not know about that part of Gatsby’s life. This slightly reassures Tom’s security within his and Daisy’s relationship. The heat also depicts the confusion of Daisy’s emotions. She realizes that “it is so hot, and everything is confused”. Knowing that he tarnished Daisy’s illusion of Gatsby, he no longer sees Gatsby as a threat to their marriage. Arrogantly, Tom demands that Gatsby drive Daisy home. Nick, Tom and Jordan drive back to Nicks house. Along the way, the three discover a horrifying scene on the border of The Valley of The Ashes. Someone was fatally hit in a vehicular accident; it was Myrtle Wilson. A car coming from the direction of New York City struck her and then sped away. Nick assumed that Myrtle must have been hit by Daisy and Gatsby and also figured it was Daisy who was the driver. Jordan, Tom and Nick arrive back at Nicks house. Nick waits outside for a few moments and realizes that Gatsby is outside hiding in the bushes. Gatsby tells Nick that he was waiting there to make sure that Tom did not hurt Daisy. He was worried about the remaining tensions leftover from the heat. Gatsby admits that Daisy was driving the car, but he will take the blame. Gatsby is still worried about Daisy and asks Nick to check on Daisy for him. Nick observes Tom and Daisy and noted that “They weren’t happy, and neither of them had touched the chicken or the ale — and yet they weren’t unhappy either. There was an unmistakable air of natural intimacy about the picture, and anybody would have said that they were conspiring together” (Fitzgerald 145). Their demeanors showed that the emotional roller-coaster was ceased and proved that she had chosen Tom over Gatsby. The rising temperature throughout the day was a precursor of the day’s future events. It also represents Nick’s utter disgust with the people he knows as he does not understand how people can be so mean, cruel and ruthless.

The tragic part of the story happened in the beginning of Autumn. Gatsby decides to swim in his pool for the first time that summer as it is creeping upon the first day of autumn. The decision to use his pool is a defiance to the change of seasons. This action represents yet another instance of Gatsby’s unwillingness to accept the passage of time and change. George Wilson who is clearly thirsty for revenge comes over and shoots him. “The touch of a cluster of leaves revolved it slowly, tracing, like the leg of transit, a thin red circle in the water” (Fitzgerald 162). Since Gatsby dies in water, it is almost like a baptism for him. In a way, it symbolizes that he is cleansed of his previous wrongdoings and is finally relieved of his stress. It represents renewal and transformation. On the day of Gatsby’s funeral, the weather is morbid, it is gray and a mixture of rain. The fog and rain combined represents the death of Gatsby both emotionally and physically. The end of Gatsby and Daisy is coming into reality, and as the rain washes away their love “a foghorn groaned incessantly” (Fitzgerald 167). As Gatsby’s funeral is taking place, it beings to downpour. The weather relates to the mood of the scene taking unfolding. The foghorn makes it almost perceivable that Gatsby has indeed wasted his life away waiting for Daisy. It is not until his funeral that the remains of his lonely life are actually revealed. The tragic hero of this story has sadly fallen, and his funeral was nearly empty. The people that do actually attend Gatsby’s funeral are “wet to the skin” (Fitzgerald 182). They are physically and symbolically wet for Gatsby because they soaked in the reality and clarity of his dreams and lost hopes. There was no sign of Daisy which signified that his dream was clearly over. Gatsby is left wet in his grave alone as the fog that once clouded and hovered over his secret life was washing away with the rain. The summer for Gatsby is equivalent to his reunion with Daisy and the end of summer halts the end of their tumultuous romance. “I tried to think about Gatsby then for a moment, but he was already too far away, and I could only remember, without resentment, that Daisy hadn’t sent a message or a flower” (Fitzgerald 174). The stormy weather with the heat and rain foreshadows Gatsby’s emptiness that he feels without Daisy. Readers are able to grasp the irony of the man who in pursuit of his lover with a fire burning so fierce that it ended up scorching any chances that he may have had with Daisy. The contradiction of fire and water is seen at Gatsby’s funeral where his singed body lay under the falling rain. This signifies the death of Gatsby and his American Dream.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a novel filled with descriptive symbolism. The symbolism directed towards the weather amplified the importance of events occurring throughout the novel. The use of weather and changing seasons are used to foreshadow the future events that are to unfold later on. In The Great Gatsby, the ever-changing weather creates temperamental attitudes and ultimately leads to a fight and a funeral. The emphasis of the weather is apparent during the moments of Gatsby’s reunion with Daisy, Tom and Gatsby’s argument and during Gatsby’s funeral.

Works Cited

  1. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2004

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Fitzgerald’s Use Of Weather Symbolism In The Great Gatsby. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 7, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/fitzgeralds-use-of-weather-symbolism-in-the-great-gatsby/
“Fitzgerald’s Use Of Weather Symbolism In The Great Gatsby.” GradesFixer, 10 Feb. 2022, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/fitzgeralds-use-of-weather-symbolism-in-the-great-gatsby/
Fitzgerald’s Use Of Weather Symbolism In The Great Gatsby. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/fitzgeralds-use-of-weather-symbolism-in-the-great-gatsby/> [Accessed 7 Jul. 2022].
Fitzgerald’s Use Of Weather Symbolism In The Great Gatsby [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Feb 10 [cited 2022 Jul 7]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/fitzgeralds-use-of-weather-symbolism-in-the-great-gatsby/
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