Symbolism In John Gast's American Progress

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In John Gast’s 1872 painting American Progress, the eye goes toward the center and then to the four focal points. In the center, the object of interest is the angel. The symbolism for the angel begins in the word Manifest Destiny, which means “a plan in which God has decreed”. The angel symbolizes a solider of God who is leading the way toward the west for God. The angel carries a book ‘common school’ which represents the progression of education. The angel also holds a telegraph line which represents the progression of technology. Notice how the angel only has its head up and not looking down on what is happening to the Natives down below. This represents the attitude of the people heading west and settling. They did not seem to care about the Natives who were already settled in that land, and instead they are selfishly pushing them out so they could claim that land for their own benefit.…show more content…
The left side- which represents the “uninhabited” land in the west- is set into a dark and cloudy atmosphere while the right side-which represents the developed colonies- is set into a beautiful morning atmosphere. Since the sun rises in the east, it would be necessary to emphasize the differences in the scenery. On the east side of the painting, it represents the progress, which is highlighted with the right yellows and greens. The trains represents the progression of railroads which is all heading in the left direction. The audience sees the buffalo, trappers, pioneers, and farmers all heading west. The home represents the settlement that the people will establish. Also not seen is a carriage hauled by horses under the Angel’s foot. This carriage symbolizes the start of the Pony

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