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The Symbolic Meaning of the Eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg in The Great Gatsby

Zahraa Kareem Taresh & Shahad Jawad Naser,

Department of Kindergarten, College of Education for Women, University of Al-Qadisiyah, Al-Qadisiyah, Iraq & Department of Information Security, Faculty of Information Technology, University of Babylon, Babylon, Iraq

This paper seeks to analyze the symbolic significance of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg’s eyes. These eyes, depicted as a pair of pale eyes on a large advertising billboard overlooking the valley of ashes, are representative of God. They peer down upon and pass judgment on American society, serving as a symbol for the erosion of spiritual values in the country. American life revolves around the pursuit of wealth, as demonstrated by the abundance of wealthy individuals, and a person’s success is measured by their possessions. It appears that God has forsaken America, leaving only Doctor T.J. Eckleburg as a silent observer, with his vacant eyes watching over those who have forgotten their spiritual values in the pursuit of materialistic gains. The connection between Doctor T. J. Eckleburg’s eyes and God is a product of George Wilson’s grieving state of mind. Nick also explores these concepts by envisioning Gatsby’s final thoughts as a somber contemplation on the emptiness of symbols and dreams. The eyes additionally come to represent the fundamental nature of the world and the arbitrary mental processes through which people attribute meaning to objects. This imagery implies that capitalism may have supplanted God. Ultimately, the eyes also convey the emptiness of the American Dream, symbolizing the loss of spiritual values in America. There is the notion that, in order to achieve the dream, individuals from humble origins must be willing to work hard and seize opportunities.

Keywords: Eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg, American Dream, Jazz Age, Capitalism, Symbol

 The above abstract is a part of the article which was accepted at The Ninth International Conference on Languages, Linguistics, Translation and Literature (WWW.LLLD.IR), 1-2 February 2024, Ahwaz.