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Symbols and Symbolism in The Great Gatsby

Symbolism in The Great Gatsby

Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby has more relevance in today’s society than it did when it was written. With the recent societal trend that emphasizes lack of morals and material wealth over a meaningful existence, Fitzgerald’s message really hits home. Which is more important – money or love? Social status or being true to oneself? Fitzgerald uses metaphor and symbols to great effect in order to illustrate what can happen when the pursuit of happiness becomes warped (by American ideals) into the pursuit of money.

One of the major symbols in the novel is the color green. Green represents the hopes and dreams of people striving to accomplish the American dream of wealth and glory. Green is the color of money and is often used to purvey the concept of wealth, especially with reference to Gatsby. Whenever Gatsby’s mansion is described there is always mention of the color green. His house is surrounded by “a large green lawn” or the “green ivy” which grows on his house. The interior of his car is described as “a sort of green leather conservatory” …

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…arning and take a second look to determine what is truly fulfilling in life.

Works Cited

Bewley, Marius. “Scott Fitzgerald’s Criticism of America.” In Modern Critical Interpretations: The Great Gatsby. edited by Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers. 1986. 11-27.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner Classic, 1986.

McAdams, Tony. “The Great Gatsby: An Examination of Metaphor and Symbolism.” In Readings on The Great Gatsby. edited by Katie de Koster. San Diego, California: Greenhaven Press. 1998. 111-120.

Subversive Power of the Theater Revealed in Hamlet an Othello

Subversive Power of the Theater Revealed in Hamlet and Othello

Theatrical performance is vital not only to the presentation of Hamlet and Othello, but it is vital to each of the play’s respective stories. Several key characters control, manipulate, or script a theatrical performance of their own. Through subtle suggestion and explicit or implicit storytelling, Shakespeare’s use of theatrical performance within his own plays underscores the subversive power of the theater.

It is no secret that Shakespeare embeds within many of his plays subtle suggestions which were subversive to the thoughts and attitudes at the time. Through the construction of the play within a play, Hamlet subverts the notion of kingship. In the play, without even speaking himself, Hamlet constructs a particular version of reality so chilling that Claudius leaves the theater. While this is obviously due to the startling similarity that Claudius sees between the play and his own life, the subtle idea implied is the idea that royalty can be simplified to nothing more than acting. If the roles of the king and queen can be played so well that Claudius leaves the room, seeing the striking similarity between the play and his life, then there is no reason why kingship itself cannot be acted. This subversively delegitimizes the power of the throne. Moreover, it is only in the scenes related to the mousetrap that Hamlet shows signs of leadership. He says to the players, “Follow him, friends. We’ll hear a play tomorrow . . . You could for a need / study a speech of some dozen or sixteen lines / which I would set down and insert in’t, could you / not?” (Shakespeare II.2:546-553). He is directing the action, asking the ability of the players and telling them exactly what they should do. The fact that Hamlet, the man who would be king, is a leader only in a performance subverts the idea of leadership being something firmly ingrained within the soul of a human being. Instead, it is replaced with the notion that kingship is not something that can be passed down from generation to generation, but something that can be acted, as if it could be turned on and off at will. The nobles and leaders of a country, then, are not inherently born with power because of their familial origin, but they have the same basis of human experience as the common man, an idea which would’ve been utterly rejected in Shakespeare’s time.

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