The Great Gatsby

by

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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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.

The Eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Quotes in The Great Gatsby

The The Great Gatsby quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of The Great Gatsby published in 2004.
Chapter 2 Quotes
But above the grey land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. 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. Evidently some wild wag of an oculist set them there to fatten his practice in the borough of Queens, and then sank down himself into eternal blindness or forgot them and moved away. But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker)
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:
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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)