The Meaning of the Eyes in The Great Gatsby

 

The Great Gatsby pic
The Great Gatsby
Image: amazon.com

A co-founder of and senior legal consultant with Chicago-based Lydian, Inc., John Heintz served as the assistant superintendent for operations and chief legal officer for Niles Township High School District 219, within which he also functioned as an English teacher earlier in his career. John Heintz counts To Kill a Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby among his favorite books.

Written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1925, The Great Gatsby involves fictional characters from different economic backgrounds living on Long Island, New York during the Roaring Twenties. While not particularly popular when published, the novel is now considered a literary classic. Some of the book’s prominent symbols highlight the era’s decadence and despair.

One such symbol is a billboard that overlooks the Valley of Ashes, a destitute environment between New York City and the fictional town of West Egg. The billboard features a pair forlorn eyes belonging to Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, peering over the desolate wasteland.

In one part of the book, the main character notes that the eyes are always keeping watch. In an interaction that takes place in front of a window where the billboard is visible, one person confronts an adulterer by saying that she can’t fool God. Some may conclude that the ever-present God sees everything and frowns upon the apparent greed, immorality, and selfish interactions set in the failed American Dream.

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