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The Symbolism Of Houses In The Great Gatsby

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The Symbolism Of Houses In The Great Gatsby by Cristina Nuta -

We can notice the wonderful, unobstrusive skill with which Fitzgerald uses realistic detail symbolically. Houses in The Great Gatsby are much richer in meaning than the book's more obvious symbols, as is perhaps most evident in the way the house in Louisville where Gatsby wooes Daisy is charged for us with Gatsby's feelings. Houses are specially significant in the book for the way they emphasize the meanings inherent in its central design, which places Nick in the middle with Gatsby on one side of him and the Buchanans' on the other.

Nick has grown up in the Middle West, in the 'Carroway house in a city where dwellings are still called through decades by a family's name'. The Caroway house was no doubt ugly and dull by the fashionable standards of Lon g Island, but it was genuinely 'ancestral'. Nick was at home there; but he is so little at home in his West Egg bungalow that he says he has become 'an original settler' when someone asks him the way into the village. In contrast to the Carroway house, Gatsby's house next door to Nick's bungalow, 'a colossal affair by any standards,' is as innocently awful in its ostentation as his clothes and his car- a freshly constructed 'factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy'. In this Cecil de Mille set Gatsby tries to realize his dream.

The Buchanans' 'cheerful red-and-white Georgian Colonial mansion,' though much more sophisticated in taste, is quite as fake in its own way as Gatsby's mansion, and its owners are quite as temporary occupants: Tom Buchanan has just bought it from 'Demanine, the oil man', and at the end of the story he and Daisy, departing, leave no address. Indeed, the only place Tom seems ever to have felt enough at home to grieve over its loss is the apartment in New York where he spent odd moments with Myrtle Wilson, a dwelling even more temporary than the house at East Egg.

The Buchanans' house, like their life, is not evidently ridiculous as are Gatsby's, but both are essentially dead, as Gatsby's are not. The Buchanans' hardly pretend not to drift 'here and there unrestfully whenever people played polo and were rich together'; but Gatsby's house and his life, for all their bad taste, are given purpose and meaning by his Platonic conception of himself, by his dream. Even Daisy can see that the innocently tasteless appurtenances of wealth with which Gatsby surrounds himself are expressions of his heroic idealism; Gatsby climaxes the all-important tour of his house on which he takes Daisy by pouring out before her an endless profusion of very showy, though imported shirts.

What Nick discovers at the end is that however lacking it may be in glamour, the life lived in the 'bored, sprawling, swollen towns beyond the Ohio' is the only real one he has ever known. Compared to that, the Long Island life Gatsby lived in the service of his dream, that the Buchanans' lived in the service of their restless sophistication, that even Nick, in his ignorance, lived for a while, is a fantasy.

The Symbolism Of Houses In The Great Gatsby written by Cristina Nuta for FamousWhy.com
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Tags: the great gatsby, scott fitzgerald, symbolism, house, symbolically, realistic



Category: Education  - ( Education Archive)

Date Added: 15 February '07


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