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The Eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg

The symbolism involved in the faded billboard of an oculist.
by

sebi sru

on 14 October 2013

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Transcript of The Eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg

The Eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg
Sebastian Srugo
Description of the Billboard
"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." p.27
YELLOW
: the yellow colour of the spectacles represent fake gold which in itself symbolizes the desire and failure of major characters to enter New York's high society (ie. Gastby and Myrtle). It is a colour that looks as if it is gold, yet it is just a veneer which hides inferiority underneath. Yellow is important to the image of God as He is omniscient and therefore can tell when a person is "yellow" or "gold".
BLUE
: the blue colour of the eyes represents fantasies and the impossibility of them becoming reality. "[Gatsby] had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it." p.189 The colour in this quote shows, therefore, the fantasy Gastby made up in his mind. This is relevant, as to many in the story God is just a poor man's delusion in a clichéd story.
The advertisement of the eyes represents God's watchful eyes. "God sees everything" said Wilson p. 167
The loss of Spiritual Values
The eyes of Dr. Eckleburg represent the triumph of materialism over spirit, religion and all that once was important.
Spiritual values, just like the billboard in the Valley of Ashes, are neglected in America. "But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days, under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground" p.28
"[Nick] decided to come back home" to the Mid-west, where old-fashioned values are present p.185. It is as though God has abandoned the East, due to their perverse values, leaving only a billboard to stare down at those who gave up on Him for material wealth.
The Corruption of America
A loss of decency and purity among its citizens has distorted and corrupted the American Dream.
The billboard symbolizes the corruption of the American people and the American Dream. Whenever something awful occurs, the eyes seem to watching, judging the new generation of the immoral rich. "Over the asheaps the giant eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg kept their vigil..." p.131
Theme: The romantic enlargement of life to an extent that the material and spiritual are confused, has caused the withering of the American Dream.
The Counterfeit American Dream
For most, the perverse, materialistic dream of owning bars of gold and luxury cars became just that: a dream. Instead, most lived amongst ash heaps and became forgotten (Wilsons). The billboard frowns at all the poor people who live around it, destined for failure as they cannot escape their lower class (Myrtle even died trying). The higher class of NYC has already forgotten about God, as they already possess all they desire.
"Whereas the American Dream was once equated with certain principles of freedom, it is now equated with things. The American Dream has undergone a metamorphosis from principles to materialism." - John E. Nestler, 'The American Dream' 1973
When talking about the Valley of the Ashes, Tom says "'Terrible place, isn't it,' while exchanging a frown with Doctor Eckleburg." p.30
The sign is, therefore, located at the Valley of Ashes as the poor are the only ones who still need to believe in the antiquated American Dream. The rich have already forgotten about this old dream and have associated happiness with the perverse Dream.
Theme: Materialism and waste are symptoms and/or causes of the poisoning of the American Dream.
The eyes watch over Tom's adulterous actions with Myrtle p.29, they see Gatsby as he drives over to see his friend and partner Wolfshiem (a gambler who gained his wealth by rigging the 1919 World Series) p.72, and they watch incredulously as Daisy runs over Myrtle and drives away, without the slightest consequence and without ever looking back p.145.

"[T]wo girls in twin yellow dresses" who aren't as alluring as the golden Jordan in Nick's opinion. p. 47 (Gatsby's party)
Gatsby's lavish car described as being "a rich cream colour" p. 68
Gatsby throws extravagant parties to get Daisy's attention, and ultimately her love. This fantasy, though, does not become reality.
The instant when Myrtle is hit by Daisy in the 2013 Great Gatsby Movie.
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