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An Analysis of the Spatial Symbol in The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby is a masterpiece of F.Scott Fitzgerald, who was one of the greatest American writers in the 20th century. As one of the most important novels in America in the 20th century, The Great Gatsby has been studied, during the past decades, by lots of scholars both at home and abroad with various critical theories from different angles. A “symbol” is usually used in poems, but it also used in fiction. A symbol is an object that represents, stands for, or suggests an idea, visual image, belief, action or material entity. All these objects not only represent their own nature but also suggest deeper emotion and something beyond any accurate explanation. This dissertation offers a comprehensive analysis of the spatial symbols in The Great Gatsby to shed new light on the theme of the novel.
Since the publication of this novel, many literal critics and scholars have showed great interest in it. They have analyzed it in various aspects, such as its theme of the American Dream (Bhang, 1998) , the archetypes in the novel (Li,2010), the art of narration in the work (An&Een,2003) , symbols used in it (Yu,1991) and so on. Although there have been many scholars analyzed symbols in the work, few of them have ever attempted to systematically analyze the symbolic significances of the spaces in the work.
1.What spaces are used as symbols in The Great Gatsby?
2. What are the spatial symbolic meanings of the city landscapes in the novel?
3. Ho w the houses inhabited by different characters reflect their social status, fate and personality?
Through the detailed analysis of the spatial symbols in the novel, it is hope to explore the necessity of the disillusion of the American Dream, reveal the inner worlds of the characters and unfold a depraved American society.
“Symbol” is not exactly a kind of systematical critical theory, so the theoretical framework of the dissertation is much difficult to build.
Hegel said, “symbol” is generally revealed directly and perceptually on an external object which can not be seen from its own but a common significance it implies, (Zhu qtd. In Hegel,1990:10) Therefore, the surface of the symbol is a visible image, and the deep significance is the abstract flowing emotion. This kind of deep significance is not directly revealed, but is reflected by a concrete visible image. In a word, “symbol” means to use a visible image to indirectly express higher emotion. (Zhao,2007:20)
Fitzgerald successfully used the symbols in The Great Gatsby to reflect his deep and abstract emotion. In this dissertation, two kinds of spaces will be analyze. One is the large-scale city landscapes, such as West Egg, East Egg and the Valley of Ash. The other is every house mentioned in the work such as Gatsby’s and Tom’s mansions, the garage and so on. East Egg stands for the established nobility with great wealth, high reputation and good taste, in another word, the “old money”, while the West Egg stands for the self-made new nobility, in another word,the “new money”(Dong,2006:35) In addition, West Egg and East Egg also have something to do with the West and East of the United States. The West is “no longer the warm heart of the world, but like a wast fringe of the universe”. However, the East is a thriving place which allows people to pursue their American Dream. It can be said that the West Egg in which people are rich but without real reputation, is a miniature of the West. The East Egg, a real rich neighborhood, is the miniature of the West. Nick’s shift from the West to the East unfolds the pursuit of the American Dream. Besides, “The decay of Gatsby’s mansion represents the disillusion of the American Dream corrupted by money. Tom’s mansion proves that only those ruthless and selfish hereditary nobility, like Tom, are the true owners of the failed American Dream. Apart from these, other landscape will be also discussed. All of them have deep significances beyond their surfaces, they also show the social status, ideology and characteristic of the roles, as well as the social features at that time which helps to better understand the theme.
1.1 About F.Scott Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby
1.2 Aims and Objectives
1.3 Organization of the Dissertation
2 Literature Review
3 Theoretical Framework
4 Symbolic Meanings of the Geographical Landscapes in The Great Gatsby
4.1 City Landscapes as Symbols
4.2.1 The West Egg Vs The East Egg
4.2.2 The Valley of Ash
4.2 The Symbols of the Houses
4.3.1 Tom’s Mansion
4.3.2 Gatsby’s Mansion
4.3.3 Myrtle's Apartment
4.3.4 The Garage
4.3.5 Nick’s House
2014.01.10 - 01.15 study the work and sort out useful references
2014.01.16 - 02.16 complete the first draft
2014.02.06 - 03.31 complete the second draft
2014.04.01 - 04.15 adjust the typography and complete the final
201404.16 - 05.15 prepare oral defence
Whitehead, Alfred North. Symbolism: Its Meaning and Effect. New York: Fordham University Press, 1985.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Scribner Library edition ,New York, c, 1953
F. Scott Fitzgerald, Echoes of the Jazz Age, in Scribners, 1931
Marjorie Ann Hollomon Faust,The Great Gatsby and its 1925 Contemporaries,Georgia State University,2006
Jeremy Reed, The American Dream and the Margins in Twentieth Century Fiction, University of Missouri-Columbia,2009
YuNa, The American Dream---Symbolism as seen in The Great Gatsby, master’s thesis, LiaoNing Formal University,2001
Wang BingQing, A Study on the Metaphorical Meanings of the Houses in The Great Gatsby,master’s thesis, Jingbang Formal University,
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