Symbolism qs a Tool to Establish Atmoosphere in The Great Gatsby and The Crucible

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Symbols are used throughout literature to imply many things to the reader, whether that be to convey ideas, develop characters, establish atmosphere, etc. In both works which we have studied in class, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, use a great deal of symbolism which is used to convey different things in both texts, but overall help the author’s intent. This is seen in The Great Gatsby by the green light at Daisy’s dock as well as Gatsby’s Mansion, and many more. While in The Crucible, symbolism is seen through the doll that is planted and found at Proctors house, as well as the noose which was seen as the final judgement. Throughout both texts symbolism is pivotal to the authors intents and themes portrayed in many different examples in each work.

One of the main symbols seen in The Great Gatsby is the green light which is used by F. Scott Fitzgerald to show Gatsby’s dedication to Daisy. This is seen towards the beginning of the book when we are first introduced to the character of Jay Gatsby, we see him through the eyes of his neighbor, the narrator, Nick. The reader first sees Gatsby staring at the green light across the lake, more specifically the green light emanating from the dock of Daisy’s and Tom’s home. This light is later also explained when it is said that “…the green light has become a part of Gatsby’s collection”. This use of symbolism helps the author not only develop the character of Jay Gatsby but also to highlight one of the themes of the Novel of having to let go of the past. The green light when first introduced is seen as Daisy’s love for Gatsby this is why it is described as far and vague, hard to see through the mist, this shows that although Gatsby still loves Daisy and has high hopes that she does too, but unfortunately for him, she does not and has moved on from the life with him. This symbol is also a way in which the author conveys one of the Novel biggest themes which is to learn to let go and that holding on to the past is not always the best thing. This is seen as Gatsby’s perseverance and carelessness to bring back things to how they were causes him to end up the way he did which was shot in his pool.

On the other hand, when we see the green light again it is described as part of Gatsby’s collection meaning that the love that was once only a vague memory was now a strong passion between Gatsby and Daisy. On the other hand, a strong symbol that is seen in The Crucible is the noose, this is used by Arthur Miller to set the atmosphere and tone for a part of the play as well as to convey an idea. It is seen as strong since it was the way for the people to be able to hang and take care of what they perceived as the threat to their society. This is exemplified as no one in the town of Salem wants to be accused of witchery or witchcraft, this is because it would not only ruin their name but also mean that they would face potential hanging if they confessed. The noose conveys the idea that just because there is a way to get rid of what they fear the most it does not mean that they have to use it and yet they choose to anyway. This easy escape causes many people in the town, more notably the young lady’s who are the one who do most of the accusing, to take advantage of the situation for their own benefits. This idea of having a weapon but also being smart enough not to use it carelessly is an important theme that the author puts forth to the reader. Arthur Miller also uses the symbol of the noose to establish the atmosphere for the later parts of the play, more specifically the fear of having to face with such a thing and preferring to lay low and not have anything brought upon you.

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Another symbol used by F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby are the two parts of town, East egg and West egg, these are used by the author to convey the idea of consumerism and capitalism to the reader as well as to establish an atmosphere of strong difference and resentment between the people. East egg represents the richer part of town and the higher class, while West egg symbolizes the lower and more common part of town. The notable characters who live in East egg are Daisy and Tom, while the ones who live in West egg are Gatsby, Nick and Myrtle. East egg is a place where we see corruption of the soul and carelessness of the people, while in West egg we see more goodness but also determination, which in excess is not very good. The carelessness of Daisy is a way the author criticizes the high born class for they incompetence and lack of good leadership. While in West egg the author show the dedication which certain character like Nick and Gatsby have, one pursues his career and wants to raise his social status while the latter wants to pursue his love for Daisy and won’t let go of what he once had with her.

Similarly in The Crucible Arthur, Miller uses a poppet as a symbol of being taken advantage and to develop the character of Proctor’s wife in hard situations as well as the character of Abigail. As the play unfolds we see Abigail’s love for Proctor which is very one sided, similarly to Gatsby’s love for Daisy. Abigail’s character is shown to be very selfish and barley willing to help others, rather preferring to secure her own interests. This is exemplified in the poppet which she had made during one of the triels, furthur showing her lack of interest in other people especially as a witness, which was later handed to Mary Warren to place Proctor’s house such that his wife could be blamed and trialed for it. As the play goes on this plan managed to succeed and we see Abigail’s willingness to not let go of the past and her relationship with Proctor, but rather pursue it until it is too much, which is what Proctor feels when he finds out his wife will stand trial. This example of symbolism by the author ties back to the previous theme of not only learning to let go, from The Great Gatsby, but also the theme of learning to appropriately use certain words and accusations and not using them without care of thought.

Although two different texts with different ideas and themes, both F. Scott Fitzgerald and Arthur Miller use symbolism throughout their works to convey new ideas,

develop characters, and establish atmospheres. Although the past might seem like it was and always will be amazing it is also important to look the other way and focus on the future, this is something which both works do very well at teaching their reader.

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Symbolism qs a Tool to Establish Atmoosphere in The Great Gatsby and The Crucible. (2020, September 04). WritingBros. Retrieved August 19, 2022, from
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