The Great Gatsby: Symbollism

By: Joey D. ; Josh W. ; Hayanny S. ; Nicole A. ; Danny K.

The Eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg

"But above the gray land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic — their irises are one yard high. They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose. Evidently some wild wag of an oculist set them there to fatten his practice in the borough of Queens, and then sank down himself into eternal blindness, or forgot them and moved away. But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days, under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground."
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A Conduit

The eyes of T.J. Eckleburg are not only viewed as an omnipotent power but can also be thought of as the eyes of Nick Carraway. Nick is the only character in the novel that realizes the corruption and selfishness of the rich and wealthy in New York. He looks at people and judges them in the beginning of the book because he is an outsider and knows nothing, he looks at people without passion like the eyes of T.J. But throughout the novel Nick get caught up in the corruption and not until Gatsby dies does he realize he needs to get away from the affluent and dishonesty of New York.

A Watcher, A God

The Eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg


Through Great Gatsby we have witnessed many references to eyes. “But above the grey land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg. The eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic- their retinas are one yard high. They look out of no face but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose…But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground” (Chapter 2). This quote talks about the eyes of God looking over the world.George Wilson states “God sees everything” (Chapter 8) this shows how strongly he believes in God watching over him through the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg and that only God has the right to judge his wife. Not only can this passage be symbolizing the eyes of God but also Nick’s. In chapter one Nick states "I'm inclined to reserve all judgements.” He is the only one in the novel who really knows what is going on.


The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg on the billboard overlooking the Valley of Ashes represent the haunting waste of the past. “These haunting, unblinking eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg watch over everything in the Valley of Ashes” (Chapter 2)


Dr. T.J. Eckleburg looks down on the Valley of the Ashes which symbolizes the American Dream and the corruption of that dream. “But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days, under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground.”(Chapter 2) This quote symbolizes the corruption and failure of the American Dream.|

The Great Gatsby (1974) - "I'm a trusting kind of fella"
Froghoppin' with Gatsby

History

The initials of T.J. Eckleburg could symbolically be Thomas Jefferson’s name himself. Thomas Jefferson believed that any nations that are rooted to agricultural economy cannot fail economically. in chapter 3 of the book, the characters pass by the valley of ashes, which was heavily implied that the ashes used to be crops from farmlands in the valley. The eyes from the billboard is symbolically Thomas Jefferson. His eyes scope around the field, in hopes that his country would go back to its agricultural roots. Sadly however, his dreams never came true due to the financial crash that came after the roaring 20s.

Owl Eyes

"A stout, middle-aged man, with enormous owl-eyed spectacles, was sitting somewhat drunk on the edge of a great table, staring with unsteady concentration at the shelves of books. As we entered he wheeled excitedly around and examined Jordan from head to foot."
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Judge

The Owl Eyed man in The Great Gatsby is more of a living symbol rather than a character. He is perceptive and notices trivial details that point out flaws in characters, primarily Gatsby. While most of Gatsby’s house guests would only recognize a bookshelf full of books, the Owl Eyed man could “see through” Gatsby’s cultured facade.

He was already wise enough to know that Gatsby doesn’t really read the books and realize they are only for show, but he was most surprised at how far Gatsby was willing to go to keep his appearance of great wealth by placing real books in the bookshelf when he could have just made them fake.

Work Cited

"The Great Gatsby; Symbols and Motifs." : Eyes of T.J. Eckleburg. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2014.

"The LitCharts Study Guide to The Great Gatsby." LitCharts. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2014.

"Symbols in The Great Gatsby." Symbols in The Great Gatsby. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2014.

Fitzgerald, F S. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1995. Print.

Shmoop Editorial Team. "The Owl-Eyed Man in The Great Gatsby." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 09 Dec. 2014.

User5067439. "What Is the Meaning of the Eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg in The Great Gatsby? - Homework Help - ENotes.com." Enotes.com. Enotes.com, 2 Apr. 2013. Web. 09 Dec. 2014.