ESSAY QUESTION: One of Fitzgeralds's great strengths lies in the effective way he uses symbolism in his novel to highlight his beliefs and values.
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a novel about one man's disenchantment with the American dream. In the story we get a glimpse into the life of Jay Gatsby, a man who aspired to achieve a position amongst the American rich to win the heart of his true love, Daisy Fay. Gatsby's downfall was the fact that he was unable to determine that concealed boundary between reality and illusion in his life. The Great Gatsby is a tightly structured, symbolically compressed novel whose predominant images and symbols reinforce the idea that Gatsby's dream exists on borrowed time, and it is through this symbolism that Fitzgerald manages to highlight his own beliefs and values.
The rich symbolize the failure of a civilisation and the way of life and this flaw becomes apparent in the characters of Tom and Daisy Buchanan. Nick Carraway, the narrator of the story, quickly became disillusioned with the upper social class after having dinner at their home on the fashionable East Egg Island. Nick is forced unwillingly to observe the violent contrast between their opportunities - which is implied by the gracious surface of their existence - and in the seamy underside, which is, it's reality. In the Buchanans and in Nick's reaction to them, Fitzgerald shows us how completely the American upper class has failed to become an aristocracy. The Buchanans represent cowardice, corruption and the demise of Gatsby's dream. Gatsby never discovers how he has been betrayed by the class he has idealised for so long. For Gatsby, the failure of the rich has disastrous consequences. .
Gatsby's desire to achieve his dream leads him to West Egg Island where he purchases a mansion. The image of the mansion serves as a key symbol of aspiration, reflecting both Gatsby's success as an American self-made man and the mirage of an identity he has created to win Daisy's love.