Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby and Elliot’s The Wasteland are two stories that similarly express the modernist post-war disillusionment. Both stories comment pessimistically on the direction that our world is moving in from the post-war modernist perspective. Both men looked past the roaring twenties, and realized that this time period was actually a moral wasteland. The final paragraphs of The Great Gatsby sum up their mutual lack of faith in American culture to improve. Fitzgerald uses a number of both direct and indirect ways to comment on what has happened to America. The green light is a recurring symbol in this book that has many deep meanings.
Beginning in the first chapter, when Nick compares the green bulk of America rising from the ocean to the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock, this symbol takes on many meanings. This is the green light that drives Gatsby, this is the green light symbolizes the new money and materialism in the world. This shows that money is now the new driving force in the world, and that people work to consume. This ties into the fact that Gatsby went to great lengths to become rich solely to impress Daisy with his wealth. Additionally, Gatsby showed off this wealth by showing her all of the shirts that he had purchased. All of this points towards the emerging consumerism in American society.
... his green light, the attention dies too. The New York society is very materialistic, and Gatsby has everything someone in a material world could ... far-off green light represents all that is unobtainable to Gatsby. It is his pipe dream. He has already conquered a material world, and ... has to do is hide in the shadow of her ?great big hulking specimen? (16) of a husband, Tom. When Daisy ...
The green also seems to symbolize the automotive industry, which was one of the biggest parts of the new consumer culture. Henry Ford made a policy of paying his workers high wages, because he realized that if they were paid more, they themselves would become consumers of his products. Today, cars are often seen as a status symbol, which began back in the 1920’s. The Wasteland of Elliot’s is analogous to the valley of ashes between West Egg and New York City. It is an industrial wasteland that was clearly created by large corporations and industries.
This valley of ashes symbolizes the moral decay created by limitless pursuit of wealth. The valley of ashes is a place inhabited by the poor, and polluted by the rich. This shows that the only people who have to accept the consequences of corporate greed are the working class themselves. Elliot’s The Wasteland describes Europe as a very bleak place after the First World War. In the final section, the speaker bothers Stetson about the corpse buried in the garden. Stetson’s inability to effectively answer the speakers question symbolizes this confusion about the state of world during and after the war.
It shows that justifying this war is an act of futility. Elliot also presents a theme of regeneration and fertility, which symbolizes a longing for the past. In the opening of The Wasteland, April is shown as a time of revival after the bleak winter. Regeneration is portrayed as painful, because the new spring can’t measure up to the springs of the past. This is portrayed by Marie’s experiences from the past, which become painful when she considers that the time she lives in now is one of great political and cultural consequences. The final paragraph of The Great Gatsby and the final line in particular, effectively represent the views of Elliot and Fitzgerald.
The final line, “so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” embodies the essence of both stories. It expresses a lack of confidence in our society’s current condition, and a longing for the simpler times of the past. The final page offers much of Fitzgerald’s perspective, and it is wonderfully summed up in the final sentence of the book. Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the sound.
... would make them feel happy, successful and complete. The green light that Gatsby was obsessed with symbolises hope and it is with this ... him to fail to keep in touch with reality. Gatsby's dream belonging in the past juxtaposes Fitzgerald's belief that the American ... ideals that the American dream had once stood for. Fitzgerald poetically describes Gatsby's attempts to go beyond his past as wasted time ...
And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes- a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams… This selection from the back page paints an image that America was once a lush and beautiful land of promise whose fertility has been exhausted, resulting in a wasteland. The people who first came to America had the green in their eyes as well, and they were corrupted by the opportunities that America had to offer. This paragraph also shows that it was the green light and the dreams of Gatsby which cut down the pure fertility of this place in lieu of riches and materialism. The paragraph continues to discuss the natural brilliance of America, and that the people who came were initially amazed by this.
This amazement was evanescent, and the people who came to America began to follow the green light, resulting in this wasteland. And as I sat there, brooding on the old unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in the vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night. In this paragraph Nick looks back to Gatsby and his pursuit of the green light. He says that Gatsby’s pursuit of daisy was corrupted by materialism, and that his dream was close enough that he could feel it.
Nick expresses a longing for the past in this paragraph, and expresses that in the past Gatsby could have reached his dreams. Nick points out that in the simpler past, in the dark fields, Gatsby could have achieved his dream. In this new world, and this new culture, people and their dreams are corrupted by the green light, and these dreams are often never fully achieved or realized. Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgasmic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch our arms farther… and one fine morning- Nick comments once again on Gatsby’s pursuit of this perfect future that will never materialize.
... does know that Nick admires Gatsby for his dream which is some way linked with the green light. The color green represents life, ... Gatsby: The Green Light The image of the green light in the novel Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a significant symbol which reflects Gatsby's dream ... more evident that this green light is not Daisy, but a symbol representing Gatsby's dream of having Daisy. The ...
He also says that this our world is deteriorating even further, but expresses some hope for the future. He expresses optimism not in our culture, but in human beings to strive for improvement. Nick ties up all of the sentiments on this page with the conclusion “so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” This statement ties back into the idea that people will strive to improve themselves, but the state of things are so bleak that it is like trying to row upstream. It also means that while people try to work for a perfect future, the best they can hope for is to be “borne back ceaselessly into the past.” Elliot and Fitzgerald share a mutual pessimism regarding society, but a confidence in individuals. They both share a very modernistic take on the post-war world, and hope that the power of individuals can break through the restraints of their society.