The Great Gatsby

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The Eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Symbol Analysis

The Eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Symbol Icon
The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg on the billboard overlooking the Valley of Ashes represent many things at once: to Nick they seem to symbolize the haunting waste of the past, which lingers on though it is irretrievably vanished, much like Dr. Eckleburg's medical practice. The eyes can also be linked to Gatsby, whose own eyes, once described as "vacant," often stare out, blankly keeping "vigil" (a word Fitzgerald applies to both Dr. Eckleburg's eyes and Gatsby's) over Long Island sound and the green light. To George Wilson, Dr. Eckleburg's eyes are the eyes of God, which he says see everything.
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The Eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Symbol Timeline in The Great Gatsby

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg appears in The Great Gatsby. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
Past and Future Theme Icon
...huge spectacled eyes from a billboard for an eye doctor's defunct practice. These haunting, unblinking eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg watch over everything in the Valley of Ashes. (full context)
Chapter 7
Past and Future Theme Icon
Nick notices the haunting eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg looming in the distance, then spots Myrtle Wilson staring down from the windows above the... (full context)
Chapter 8
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
Past and Future Theme Icon
...of God. It was near dawn at this point, and Wilson was staring into the eyes of T. J. Eckleburg when he mentioned God. Wilson says he has a way of finding out who was... (full context)