Fitzgerald critiques society’s ideals through his use of language or literacy devices in ‘The Great Gatsby’.
Plan: The American Dream through three symbols; The Valley of Ashes, Green Light (distantness and can incorporate how the new money (Gatz) cannot achieve old money (Daisy)) and
In The Great Gatsby, author F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the language device of symbolism to critique society’s ideal of the American Dream. Fitzgerald uses three key symbols to portray his view of the falseness and illusion of the American Dream; The Valley of Ashes, the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock and the two ‘eggs’. The way that Fitzgerald uses these symbols completely contradicts what the American Dream is based upon; the famous quote from James Truslow Adams who states “The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”
In the Great Gatsby, the symbol the Valley of Ashes is used by Fitzgerald to critique the American Dream. The Valley of Ashes is a setting in the Great Gatsby located between the two ‘Eggs’ and New York City. It is a dull, hard-working place where there is no hope, no escape and certainly no opportunity – the opposite of the American Dream. The fact that the Valley of Ashes is so close to the two ‘Eggs’ backs up the fact that people who live in the Valley of Ashes do not receive the equal opportunity according to ability or achievement that Adams speaks of. Instead, we see an area of great wealth who have never tried to achieve much in their life, who have never even worked nonetheless, right beside hard working people who will never achieve anything because they are, by chance, born into a backward place where they can never improve. This is true as in the novel the Valley of Ashes is described as “a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke”. Fitzgerald has clearly chosen words with negative connotations to describe this setting and symbol to exaggerate the illusion and falseness of the American Dream. For example, grotesque makes readers think of something ugly, bizarre and absurd. Ashes make the reader think of something dead and grief. The symbol of The Valley of Ashes clearly represents the falseness and illusion of the American Dream as it is a place where there is no opportunity even though the civilians there achieve the same if not more than those outside of the valley.
The symbols of East and West Egg reveal that Fitzgerald believes the American Dream is false. This is because East and West Egg represent old and new money respectively, and the limitations of the new money contradict the American Dream. East Egg is a massively wealthy society where those who live off what is known as ‘old money’ – Inherited wealth.
The green light also represents the American Dream as it shows how Gatsby