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Symbolism In The Great Gatsby

symbolsF. Scott Fitzgerald wrote his novel, The Great Gatsby to represent the rise and fall of the American Dream, an ideal worshipped during the 1920s. The author places the rich and wealthy lifestyle on a high pedestal while he shows the dramatic consequences of moral and social decay amongst the characters. As each turning point is revealed, the American Dream slowly crumbles in the selfish hands of those who remain ignorant to anything else in the world. The significance of the many symbolic elements in The Great Gatsby plays a role in revealing the underlying themes of the American Dream, the ongoing clash between love and wealth and social and moral destruction.

The author uses the Valley of Ashes, a small town between the West Egg and New York City, to symbolize the moral and social decay that stems from the desire to become wealthy. The Valley of Ashes, “a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens, where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air” (Fitzgerald 23), symbolizes a morally stripped place where materialistic and false people can live in harmony. The unfortunate events that occur in the Valley of Ashes, including Gatsby’s death, the affair between Tom and Myrtle and Myrtle’s accidental death, represent the severe consequences stemming from the failed attempts at achieving the American Dream. As the characters travel through the Valley of Ashes to reach elsewhere, they are forced to belittle themselves to a lower social status, as seen when Tom engages in an affair with Myrtle, a poor-stricken woman, who solely provides another form of comfort. Serving as a symbol of social and moral destruction, the Valley of Ashes also symbolizes the condition in which the poorer American society lived during the 1920s. The description of the Valley of Ashes used through color symbolism, creates a melancholy atmosphere which allows the reader to connect the importance of the “desolate strip of land” (Fitzgerald 22) to the negative personality changes, reflective of the 1920s, within the characters.

The tragic and coincidental events that occur in the Valley of Ashes are viewed through the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg, a billboard with fading eyes that symbolizes God judging American society as a moral and social wasteland. Fitzgerald includes the Valley of Ashes to represent the morally diminishing, materialistic society in which the characters live in, watched over by the pietistic eyes of T. J. Eckleburg, contributing in the destruction of the American Dream. Letha Audhuy describes the billboard of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg as “a new, but false god, who, the people (in the person of Wilson) believe, “sees everything”. In America in the 1920s the new god was commercialism or materialism” (Audhuy 111). The billboard symbolizes an outside viewpoint of the material-driven attitude of the 1920s, a main theme in The Great Gatsby. The symbolic meaning of T.J. Eckleburg and the connection between the main theme is viewed later in the novel when Daisy finds Gatsby similar to an advertisement, revealing that Daisy finds Gatsby attractive for the materialistic disguise he portrays. The author continues to reference the use of advertisement throughout the novel to emphasize how the materialistic attitudes of the American Dream are revealed. In relation to the characters, Gatsby’s youthful imaginative “belief in her [Daisy] perfection is based more on the projection of his fantasies of her than on her actual character” (Burnam 46) connects to the immortal youth and wealth that advertisements portray, giving a clear explanation as to why Fitzgerald chose to stop the development of the characters and expand on their moral and social destruction. In addition to the symbolic objects in The Great Gatsby, the setting within the novel, the Valley of Ashes, West and East Egg, plays a vital role in portraying the demolition of the American Dream. Read about Marriage in Great Gatsby.


The colors in The Great Gatsby reveal the worshipped idea of the American Dream and present thematic elements within the characters and the destructive lives they lead. Within the novel, the color symbolism reveals more details about the personality of the characters and the importance themes of the American Dream. The color white and brightly colored shades are connected to purity and innocence which is proven when Nick describes the inside of Tom’s house as “bright” (Fitzgerald 12) and the windows are “gleaming white against the grass” (Fitzgerald 12). This particular color becomes connected with childhood, in relation to pureness, as Fitzgerald describes Jordan’s “girlhood” (Fitzgerald 31) as “beautiful [and] white” (Fitzgerald 32). The color yellow, representing deceitfulness, is displayed through the author’s use of imagery in The Great Gatsby. As the novel begins, Daisy and Jordan are wearing white dresses, giving the distinct impression of purity, but as the novel progresses, the color of their clothes changes to yellow while their impurities and moral imperfections are revealed. Green, as recognized with the symbol of the green light, symbolizes desperations of the future, a widespread attitude of the American Dream. Within the first chapter, Gatsby is seen staring hopefully at the end of Daisy Buchanan’s dock with “a single green light” (Fitzgerald 26), connecting his unreachable desires with Daisy to the symbolic object.

“His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete” (Fitzgerald 117)

ihategreatgatsbyricki_LargeWideThe distinctive symbols used in The Great Gatsby connect the ongoing themes of the 10920s throughout the novel with the social and morally destructive characters trying to achieve the American Dream, creating more internal and external damage along the way. Fitzgerald’s use of symbolism allows for the novel to “resolve to divergent attitudes about money and about the possibility of realizing love in the meretricious, dream-factory culture of America, the idealism of Gatsby at the core of the story” (Lathbury 65). The hidden significance of the many symbolic elements in The Great Gatsby plays a role in revealing the themes of the American Dream, the ongoing clash between love and wealth and social and moral destruction. More about Symbolism In The Great Gatsby.

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The Beowulf’s Boasting

Beowulf’s boasting is not merely to show how great he is but rather to keep true to his word and honor as a man. Beowulf does not boast for the sake of making himself look good. Marie Nelson from the University of Florida defines that there are two types of boasting that can be found in this Anglo-Saxon tale. The first form of boasting is modern boasting which consist of bragging and the second is an act of promising. Nelson states that the first type of boasting helps “to establish Beowulf’s credibility as a man who can be trusted to do what he says he will do, while type two boasts show the degree to which he commits himself to follow through on his promises” (1). Anglo-Saxon boasting differs from modern boasting because modern time boasting focuses on making one look better than someone else. Anglo-Saxon boasting consist of making promises that are to be kept in order to keep one’s honor intact. Modern boasting focuses more on displaying one’s best attributes for all to see.

beowulfBoasting is not merely a way to show off to others. Beowulf uses boasting to show loyalty to his liege. He shows his respect for his king, Hygelac, by vowing to keep the honor of his countrymen secure. One thing that always concerns Beowulf is keeping his word. He hopes to keep his word to Hygelac, and return home with his men after successfully defeating Grendel. In lines 199-201, Beowulf states his plans to aid Hrothgar in his troubles and defeat Grendel. Beowulf’s community did not “[try] to keep him from going” along with his plans. (Heaney, line 202) No one questions Beowulf’s boast because he has proven himself in the past and his word is valid. The boasting is a way to prove how honest what one says to be true. According to Dr. Kelly Taylor from the University of North Texas, “Boasts were taken seriously. Boasts were understood to be serious utterances with personal, social, legal and political consequences.” Beowulf’s boasting represents a pledge to his King and community that he must keep. Beowulf keeps his word throughout the poem as he makes promises to defeat Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon.

Modern boasting can be seen in the poem as well. In lines 480-490, there is a description of the Danes boasting about “[waiting] for Grendel with their whetted sword.” The Danes were bragging to show how courageous they would be when Grendel came to attack but later the reader learns that many of the boasting men were slain by Grendel.

Beowulf is a man of his word. Lines 407-426 detail Beowulf’s request to Hrothgar, asking his permission to fight Grendel. Beowulf boast to Hrothgar about his abilities and the strength of the mean of Geats. As Beowulf speaks to Hrothgar, the reader notices that he does not sound conceded when speaking to the king but rather humble. However in lines 415-418, the reader recognizes boasting in the contemporary use of the word. He discusses his strengths and how capable he is of fighting Grendel. This type of bragging helps support Beowulf’s promise to Hrothgar. Beowulf is selling his skills, as well as the capabilities of his men, to Hrothgar and his community. While Beowulf is convincing Hrothgar to honor him the duty of fighting Grendel, he also mentions he would like to “heighten Hygelac’s fame and gladden his heart” (line 435-436). On line 2145, Beowulf returns from the adventures and presents all his gifts to Hygelac as a sign of loyalty. Beowulf’s boasting is a form of honoring his king as well as maintaining his reputation as a great warrior.

Beowulf’s boast reassure the people of Heorot that they will be safe. The boasting is a morale booster for them. When the people of Heorot thought all hope was lost, Beowulf arrives to raise their spirits. The Oxford English Dictionary defines boasting to mean “to speak of with pride.” Beowulf restores pride to the people of Heorot with his boasting. This bold speaking allows the people of Heorot to trust Beowulf and have confidence that he can slain the beast they call Grendel.

Beowulf’s heroic boasting is what makes him a great warrior, it allows him to prove himself and to show what he is capable of. In lines 630-639, Beowulf is speaking to Wealhtheow about his intentions for the battle with Grendel. Marie Nelson from the University of Florida states that Beowulf’s “promise-boast” within these lines defines that Beowulf takes his promises very serious (Nelson 5). Beowulf states “I shall fulfill that purpose [of killing Grendel]…or meet my death here in the mead-hall” (line 636 and 638). The lines state that Grendel will try his best to fulfill his promise and if not he will meet his fate at the hands of Grendel and is willing to accept them. Anglo-Saxon boasting is all about willing to accept fate but using all of one’s abilities to keep a promise. Beowulf keeps his promise and defeats Grendel. Another form of the bragging type of boasting can be found in the poem when Grendel’s arm is put up for display for the country men to view. Although modern boasting can be seen throughout the poem, “promise-boasting” was more valuable to the Anglo-Saxon men rather than bragging (Nelson 5).

Boasting is a form of showing off as well as a form of honesty. Both types of boasting are shown throughout the poem. Beowulf tends to brag less and make more promises. In the end, he succeeded in accomplishing all of his promises and thus confirming his boast.

Works Cited

  1. Nelson, Marie. Beowulf’s Boast Words. Diss. English Department, University of Florida. Florida: Springer, 2005. 23 Jan. 2010. <>
  2. “Boast.” Oxford University Press. 2009. 23 Jan. 2010.
  3. Taylor, Kelly. Boasting. 2004. 23 Jan. 2010.

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Finding Nemo: Sample Movie Review

Pixar Animation Studios made a large splash at the summer box office on May 30, 2003 with Finding Nemo.nemoooo Directed by Andrew Stanton and Co-Director Lee Unkrich, Finding Nemo won an Oscar, thirty-four other awards, and thirty-five nominations; also, the film was ranked in the top ten American Film Institute’s list of the ten greatest films in the genre “Animation” in June 2008. With all of the movie’s accomplishments, how could one not see this joyful movie? This film also stars Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, and Alexander Gould (Finding Nemo). Finding Nemo is a tale of an adventurous young clownfish, Nemo, who ends up in an aquarium. In search to find his son, Marlin finds Dory, and the two of them encounter adventures and reunite with Nemo. Finding Nemo is a remarkable movie due to the enlightening theme, meticulous and glorious animation, and a well-played cast.

The theme of Finding Nemo forms through a father-son love story. Several components of the story help interpret the message of the film. One major element is the concern about Nemo’s short fin, a deformity that keeps Marlin worried. Stanton states: “[Nemo’s disability is] a metaphor for anything you worry is insufficient or hasn’t formed yet in your child” (Corliss). Parents become worried about a handicap in their child and think that the disability is a corrupt view of the parent. This movie can teach parents that there is no perfect father or child, like Marlin and Nemo. On Marlin’s journey, Marlin is set on finding his son when divers take Nemo; on his journey he meets the unforgettable Crush who is the complete opposite of Marlin, relaxed with parenting. Corliss explains, “When Marlin asks the sea turtle Crush how a father knows when his kids are ready to swim out on their own, the wise dude replies, ‘Well, you never really know. But when they know, you know- y’know?'”(Corliss). Parents can relate to Crush and Nemo’s devoted dad that children need to grow up and discover the world. The message of the movie is important for parents; the message is about letting go and getting back. According to Corliss, “Nemo’s fish-out-of-water plot was hatched back in 1992, when he visited Marine World in Vallejo, Calif. His feelings of protectiveness towards his own boy Ben inspired the father-son story” (Corliss). By looking at the views of Stanton, readers may see how he and other parents feel about the “letting go and getting back” policy. Even though parents may find the policy hard to follow, watching this movie can help relieve the hard way of stress by understanding the lesson of the movie. O’ Sullivan elucidates, “[Nemo’s]father is forced to enlist the aide of a beautiful stranger to decipher the only clue left at the crime scene, even while the pair narrowly averts such threats as a trio of predatory thugs foundering in a 12-step program” (O’ Sullivan). Through all of Marlin’s comical, action-packed, and nerve-racking encounters, he learns his lesson after gaining Nemo back, knowing when to hold means knowing when to let go.

nemooThe spectacular animation is a huge hit in Finding Nemo. The almost impossible underwater animation requires many elements and hard work and Pixar has outdone it. The animation consists of “…glorious images that represent the ocean in varying degrees of darkness and light, stillness and turbulence, clarity and obscurity, and in ways that high light the myriad colors possessed by underwater life”(McCarthy). McCarthy describes the underwater animation with such beauty that how could one resist to see the hard work paid off. In addition, the underwater detail is the product of meticulous effort. Ansen proclaims, “High on the movie’s list of accomplishments is its creation of an undersea wonderland whose opalescent colors and shifting light reflect the enchanted aura of dreamy aquatic photography” (Ansen). The movie successfully sustains a watery ambience, which is not an easy thing to do given that water is semitransparent. With an unexpected beauty, Finding Nemo is able to portray decent use of color and form. According to Ebert, Finding Nemo is “…one of those rare movies where I [want] to sit in the front row and let the images wash out to the edges of my field of vision” (Ebert).This animation makes people feel like they are inside the movie. Also, for many people, they could have a second-viewing for the effects.

A perfect cast comments the perfect movie. Dory needing an enthusiastic personality was matched with the perfect voice, Ellen DeGeneres. Ansen believes, “Ellen DeGeneres, hilarious and poignant, gives a tour de force reading” (Ansen). DeGeneres attracts a prodigious crowd to Finding Nemo. According to Holden, “Ms. DeGeneres infuses what could have been a one-note role with an irresistible enthusiasm and playfulness” (Holden). Without her reading, Dory would not have the same personality. Other characters are also very memorable. Michael O’ Sullivan observes, “Pixar’s attention to minute details of characterization—lobsters speak with New England accents, seagulls are mindless, yapping clones [fixate] on their next meal—pay off big time” (O’ Sullivan). These voices also bring in the full effect of the characters and movie, making the movie very comical.

Finding Nemo’s fame is an outcome of an unforgettable theme, breathtaking animation, and a comical and perfect-fitting cast. The paradox of love theme can relate to all parents and future parents. Furthermore, the spectacular and detailed animation can warrant for a second viewing and make people feel in a state of reverie. Finally, the cast produces a stunning success. This film is outstanding connecting to each person in the audience. Finding Nemo is a success to Pixar films and one must not resist seeing it!

Works Cited

  • Ansen, David. “Freeing Nemo: A Whale of a Tale.” Newsweek. Newsweek, Inc., 2 June 2003. Web. 12 January 2010.
  • Corliss, Richard. “Hook, Line, and Thinker.” Time. Time Inc., 19 May 2003. Web. 12 January 2010.
  • Ebert, Roger. “Finding Nemo.”, 30 May 2003. Web. 14 January 2010.
  • “Finding Nemo.” Internet Movie Database., Inc. Web. 27 January 2010.
  • Holden, Stephen. “Film Review: Vast Sea, Tiny Fish. Big Crisis.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 30 May 2003. Web. 13 January 2010.
  • McCarthy, Todd. “Finding Nemo.” Variety. Reed Business Information, 26 May 2003. Web. 12 January 2010.
  • O’ Sullivan, Michael. “‘Finding Nemo:’ This Fish Story is a Keeper.” The Washington Post. The Washington Post Company, 30 May 2003. Web. 13 January 2010.

Read Also: Symbolism In The Great Gatsby

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Sample Case Study Analysis

Case Study 2

A 43-year old male sheep-farmer presents to his general practitioner complaining that he is “going yellow”. He first noticed this one week previously. He has no other symptoms.

Until last year this man lived and worked in rural Greece, but he retired to the United Kingdom to be close to his family. Other than coming to the UK he has never travelled outside mainland Europe.

Physical examination reveals mild jaundice and a moderately enlarged liver, which is otherwise entirely normal. An abdominal ultrasound examination reveals the presence of a 9cm fluid-filled cavity within the right lobe of his liver and dilated intrahepatic bile ducts, and is otherwise normal. Computed Tomography (CT) scanning confirms the presence of a 9cm liver cyst and dilated bile ducts, but again is otherwise normal.

What two parasitic (i.e. helminthic or protozoan) diseases are most commonly associated with large fluid-filled masses in the liver?


The most common causes of fluid filled masses in the liver are Echinococcus granulosus and Entamoeba histolytica.

Based on epidemiology and clinical findings, which is the most likely parasitic diagnosis in this case, and why?

The most likely diagnosis is Echinococcus granulosus as the patient has developed a liver cyst which the parasite is most commonly associated with. Entamoeba histolytica is more commonly associated with liver abscesses.

Describe in detail how this disease is acquired

Echinococcus granulosus is most common in areas of sheep and cattle farming. The eggs of Echinococcus granulosus are ingested by humans by contact with faeces from an infected animal (usually dogs and sheep), by direct contact with animals that are infected (e.g. contaminated fur) or by plants that have faecal contamination containing the eggs of the organism.

The disease (Cystic Echinococcosis) is caused by the metacestode stage of the life cycle, this is a cyst containing hydatid fluid. Soon after ingestion of the eggs the metacestode develops, this begins as a small vesicle and over time inflates in size until a granulotomous reaction in the host is induced. A fibourous tissue reaction follows along with the development of a connective tissue layer called a pericyst (Eckert & Deplazes 2004). The cyst gradually grows in size over time, and a range of symptoms can be observed mainly due to the pressure applied to the liver (Goering et al 2008).

4. Give a full account of the diagnostic methods that are available to confirm this diagnosis, and suggest specific test(s) that should be undertaken in this patient.

CT or ultrasound scans and radiography are important in detecting cysts caused by this organism and a CT scan was performed with the patient. Serological tests can also be performed for the diagnosis of Echinococcus granulosus, including ELISA, hydatid immunoelectrophoresis, latex agglutination and indirect haemagglutination test, but the results for these are sometimes not reliable. Immunoelectrophoresis and immunoblotting are now along with ELISA more common to use in diagnosis. The condition can also be diagnosed morphologically by staining with trichrome stain or Ziehl-Neelsen stain. These stains make the protoscoleces (hooklets) more easily recognisable. Finding these protoscoleces in fluid leaked out from the cyst is another way to confirm the presence of the organism (Brown 1996 & Goering et al 2008, Eckert & Deplazes 2004, Zhang et al 2003). An ELISA test could be performed to detect any antibodies to the parasite. Immunoblotting could also be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

5. Describe the life cycle of the infecting organism as fully as possible, using appropriate terminology. Compare and contrast this life cycle with that of Taenia saginata, the beef tapeworm.

The adult phase of the organism is a tapeworm that resides in the digestive tract of dogs. The adult tapeworm releases eggs into the faeces that are unknowingly consumed by an intermediate host e.g. sheep, pigs, or humans etc. The eggs then hatch in the host intestine and the oncospheres larva pass through the gut wall. The oncospheres travel to the liver via the blood or lymphatic vessels, but can also cause problems in the lungs, eyes, brain and other organs. The oncospheres then reach the liver and continue to grow, and becomes encysted becoming the metacestode phase. The parasite is usually passed back to the canid by the consumption of offal from the intermediate host. The consumption of herbivores e.g. sheep by humans results in the transmission of the parasite and the human host is a dead end for the life cycle. (Goering et al 2008, Brown 1996, Eckert & Deplazes 2004, Zhang et al 2003).

The life cycle of Taenia saginata has distinct similarities and differences. The parasite resides in the intestine of animals and humans and they shed proglotids which contain many eggs which are subsequently passed out along with the faeces. This results in the contamination of soil and water where the proglotids release the eggs. These are consumed without knowledge by the intermediate host which is very similar to Echinococcus granulosus. The eggs hatch in the intestine and the oncospheres pass through into the blood to reach other tissues and organs in the body and become encysted. This is also very similar to the equivalent life cycle stage of Echinococcus granulosus. The main difference is that humans are not a dead end host as if the meat contaminated with cysts of Taenia saginata is ingested the cysticerci are released at an adult tapeworm develops after attachment to the gut wall. This completes the life cycle of Taenia saginata (Cox, FEG 2002).

Give a full account of the treatment options that are available for this disease, and the possible complications of the disease and/or its treatment.

Surgery is the most desired treatment to remove the cyst from the liver and can result in the complete eradication of the parasite. Before surgery is performed, albendazole and praziquantel is sometimes given and then for one month and two weeks respectively after surgery. This should also be given after surgery for the same amount of time, the reason for this being that by sterilising the cyst the risk of anaphylaxis due to the release of fluid from the cyst is reduced along with the tension of the cyst. This can also decrease the risk of the cyst reappearing after surgery by eliminating the organism (Pan & Hunter 2007). If surgery is not performed correctly and larvae are released they can go on to cause infection in other parts of the body (Goering et al 2007). Surgery is not possible in some cases of the disease, for example if a patient has multiple cysts or is unable to undergo surgery for whatever reason. In these cases PAIR (Puncture-aspiration-injection-reaspiration) technique can be preformed, this involves the puncture of the cysts with a needle, this allows some drainage of the cyst. An antiparistiocidal solution is then injected into the cysts, this solution consists mainly of ethanol but NaCl can be used alternatively. There is then reaspiration of the fluid in the cyst. During and after this procedure albendazole should be given to prevent secondary infection. Percutaneous thermal ablation is also a technique which could be used.

For patients where cysts are inoperable, treatment with benzimidazoles is undertaken. After this treatment the patient may relapse but the disease can be treated again (Eckert & Deplazes 2004).


Brown,S (1996). Medical Microbiology. 4th Edition. Churchill Livingstone Inc. USA. Accessed from on 11th November 2009.

Cox, FEG (2002). History of Human Parasitology. Clinical Microbiology Reviews. 15(4): 595-612

Eckert, J & Deplazes, P (2004). Biological, Epidemiological, and Clinical Aspects of Echinococcosis, a Zoonosis of Increasing Concern. Clinical Microbiology Reviews. 17(1): 107-135

Goering, RV, Dockrell, HM, Zuckerman, M, Wakelin, D, Roitt, IM, Mims, C & Chiodini, PL (2008) Mim’s Medical Microbiology. 4th Edition. Elsevier, China.

Z. Pan & W. J. Hunter (2007): Hydatid Cyst Of The Liver: A Case Report And Review Of The Literature. The Internet Journal of Parasitic Diseases. Volume 2; Number 1. Accessed from on 11th November 2009.

Zhang, W, Li, J & McManus, DP (2003). Concepts in Immunology and Diagnosis of Hydatid Disease. Clinical Microbiology Reviews. 16(1): 18-36