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What Does The Billboard Symbolize in The Great Gatsby?

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Words: 634 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 634|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. The Physical Presence of the Billboard
  2. The Eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg
  3. The Impact on the Characters
  4. Conclusion
  5. Bibliography

In F. Scott Fitzgerald's iconic novel, The Great Gatsby, the billboard that looms over the Valley of Ashes serves as a powerful symbol throughout the story. This essay will explore the significance of the billboard and its role in conveying themes of wealth, social class, and the illusory nature of the American Dream. By analyzing the billboard's physical presence, its association with the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, and its impact on the characters, we can gain a deeper understanding of its symbolic meaning in the narrative.

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The Physical Presence of the Billboard

The billboard in the Valley of Ashes represents the stark contrast between the opulence of the wealthy and the desolation of those trapped in poverty. Situated in the industrial wasteland between West Egg and New York City, the billboard acts as a constant reminder of the vast economic disparities in the 1920s. Its weathered and decaying appearance mirrors the decay of the American Dream itself, as it becomes increasingly unattainable for those who inhabit the Valley of Ashes.

Furthermore, the size of the billboard is significant. Its enormous proportions suggest the overwhelming influence of wealth and materialism in society. It dominates the landscape, overshadowing the lives of the working class who pass by it every day. This symbolizes the overpowering influence of the upper class and their ability to shape and control the lives of those beneath them.

The Eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg

One of the most intriguing aspects of the billboard is the pair of eyes painted on it, commonly associated with the character of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg. The eyes are described as "blue and gigantic," and they watch over the Valley of Ashes like a haunting specter. These eyes symbolize the all-seeing and judgmental nature of society, which observes the moral corruption and decay hidden beneath the surface of the Roaring Twenties.

Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, a forgotten oculist, represents the God-like figure who sees everything but remains indifferent. The eyes on the billboard serve as a constant reminder that no matter how much wealth and success one may possess, they cannot escape the watchful gaze of society and the consequences of their actions. This reflects the theme of moral decay and the hollowness of the American Dream, as characters like Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan strive for wealth and status at the expense of their integrity.

The Impact on the Characters

The billboard's presence has a profound impact on the characters in The Great Gatsby, revealing their true nature and the consequences of their choices. For example, Tom Buchanan, a wealthy and arrogant character, sees the billboard as merely a "grotesque thing." His dismissive attitude towards the billboard reflects his disregard for the plight of the working class and his inability to empathize with their struggles.

On the other hand, George Wilson, the owner of a small garage in the Valley of Ashes, interprets the billboard as a divine sign. He mistakenly believes that the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg are the eyes of God, watching over him and passing judgment on his actions. This interpretation reveals George's desperation and his yearning for a better life, which ultimately leads to tragic consequences.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the billboard in The Great Gatsby symbolizes the stark contrast between wealth and poverty, the moral decay of society, and the illusory nature of the American Dream. Its physical presence in the Valley of Ashes, its association with the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, and its impact on the characters all contribute to its profound symbolic meaning in the novel. By examining the billboard and its implications, we gain a deeper understanding of the themes and messages conveyed by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The billboard serves as a reminder that the pursuit of wealth and materialism often leads to moral corruption and the ultimate emptiness of one's aspirations.

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Bibliography

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Scribner, 1925.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

What Does The Billboard Symbolize In The Great Gatsby? (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 24, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/what-does-the-billboard-symbolize-in-the-great-gatsby/
“What Does The Billboard Symbolize In The Great Gatsby?” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/what-does-the-billboard-symbolize-in-the-great-gatsby/
What Does The Billboard Symbolize In The Great Gatsby? [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/what-does-the-billboard-symbolize-in-the-great-gatsby/> [Accessed 24 Jul. 2024].
What Does The Billboard Symbolize In The Great Gatsby? [Internet] GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 13 [cited 2024 Jul 24]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/what-does-the-billboard-symbolize-in-the-great-gatsby/
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