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Name Symbolism in The Great Gatsby
Transcript of Name Symbolism in The Great Gatsby
His name is neutral. It can either be the name of someone extremely wealthy but can also be the name of a common street bum. Fitzgerald used this name to express Nick's character as being unbiased, confrontational.
"In Consequence, I'm inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me." (1)
The quote above shows his lack of judgment causing a persona of being neutral.
Not only does the name Nick paint a picture of a neutral person, it also can be tied to Nicholas II of Russia who watched his whole empire crumble around due to corruption.
This can be tied to the Great Gatsby because Nick is the middle man of everything, Gatsby uses him to get to Daisy and Tom uses him to get to Gatsby. Without Nick in the novel Daisy and Gatsby wouldn’t have rekindled their short lived love.
-another name for a gun is a gat. Gatsby is a pun because he was killed with a gun.
-"Oh, I've been in several things," he corrected himself, "I was in the drug business and then I was in the oil business. But I'm not in either now." (90)
-he never truly comes out and says he was in illegal business, but we can assume he has seized his power and wealth through a wrongful manner as suggested by his name.
Why would an author choose to use name symbolism?
Symbolism offers one of the richest opportunities for writers to deepen their themes, past just the conscious appreciation of the readers and right into their emotional and subconscious cores.
Fitzgerald uses name symbolism in the Great Gatsby with almost all of his characters. Most readers understand the obvious one which is Daisy, but very few realize the symbolic importance to the rest of his characters names.
Tom is a simple character who is shallow and conceited. The lack of personality depth caused Fitzgerald to use a common and plain name.
The color red is also associated with Tom throughout the novel
"Now, don't think my opinion on these matters is final," he seemed to say, "just because I'm stronger and more of a man than you" (7)
This quote shows just how brutish and arrogant Tom is which is exactly what Fitzgerald was going for with Tom.
Daisy's name portrays her beauty. Using a Daisy, a white flower, as her name, Fitzgerald used color symbolism to convey her purity and status.
"Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who care for her found difficult to forget" (9)
This quote hints her beauty by describing her features as bright which suggests her innocence when she has excitement in her voice.
A daisy also has a gold yellow middle which is a symbol for Daisy’s lust for wealth and social hierarchy.
The name Jordan is a non-gender specific name. Jordan Baker was a woman that defied the image of a stereotypical woman of the time by being an athlete.
"She was slender, small breasted girl, with an erect carriage, which she accentuated by throwing her body backward at the shoulders like a young cadet."(11)
This quote shows she wasn't feminine and even defied gender stereotypes through her appearance.
Myrtle was a plain, homely sort of woman with little intelligence. The name Myrtle is used to describe her because the name is as equally as unflattering.
"Her face, above a spotted dress of dark blue crepe-de chine, contained no facet or gleam of beauty, but there was an immediately perceptible vitality about her as if the nerves of her body were continually smoldering." (25)
This quote shows her lack of beauty. Myrtle flowers are not nearly as beautiful and delicate as Daisies which is why Myrtle is just the mistress, and is later killed off.
The color of a Myrtle is a pink red color which symbolizes passion and love. These were things that Tom wasn’t getting from Daisy which is why he looked elsewhere for it. Those were also the things that Daisy wasn’t getting from Tom which could explain why she fell for Gatsby the second time.
A simple name for a simple man. Fitzgerald used the name Wilson because it is a name a person with normal wealth would have. Compared to the pretentious name of Buchanan, Wilson is for a man who has to work for his American Dream.
"He was a blond, spiritless man, anemic and faintly handsome." (25)
Like his wife, Wilson is only "faintly" attractive which suggests that he is not in the same league as someone wealthy like Tom Buchanan. The name Wilson fits his spiritless personality.