In "The Great Gatsby," symbolism plays a magnanimous role in shaping many aspects of the novel. The color green is a major symbol utilized by F. Scott Fitzgerald and helps with explaining Gatsby's character. The color green potentially represents many things, but specifically is associated with Gatsby's hope for love with Daisy. Other small links can be made to the color green, such as "new wealth," or even envy or jealousy. Also, there is the relation of the color green to the underlying theme of the novel, dealing with the decline of the American Dream. The color green is the most frequently used color in "The Great Gatsby," and many examples in the book help explain the deeper meaning of the novel.
First of all, Gatsby seems to be a very complex character and he "...definitely appears to be a mesterious and enigmatic character..." says John Galt (Galt 2). Due to the fact that Gatsby is the main character, the color green which represents Gatsby is used most prominently of the many symbols. We see the color green introduced at the end of the first chapter when Nick says "I glanced seaward - and distinguished nothing except a single green light..."(Fitzgerald 26). At this time, Nick is looking at Gatsby as he stares at the light with a troubled look. As the reader, you can almost feel the hope and desire that Gatsby is filled with. This hope drives Gatsby throughout the novel, and he keeps aiming for his ultimate goal, Daisy's love. Just as he keeps trying to get Daisy's compassion, the light is symbolized, and the further he reaches to the light the further his goals seem. At the end, Nick says "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter-tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further..."(Fitzgerald 189). This shows that Gatsby never reached his goal, but his hope was admirable.
Next there are the few other possible meanings that lie within the symbolism of the color green. First of all, the green represents the "new money" or just the importance of wealth during this time. The new money is associated with those who worked their way up to gain this wealth, and is considered the self-made rich. In this story, money is a controling factor to the lives of everybody. In Gatsby's case, "Gatsby feels that he needs green money to live and to impress Daisy"(Deitermann 1). Gatsby knows that money is important to Daisy, "Her voice is full of money," and intends to use money to impress Daisy (Fitzgerald 127). We can see Gatsby's money in his large green lawn, and the ivy growing upon his house and even the green leather in his car.These are examples of the importance that money has on Gatsby's life towards gaining Daisy's love. Another possible meaning for the color green is envy. Gatsby is an evnious character throughout the novel simply because Tom is entitled to Daisy, which is the only thing that Gatsby desires. Also, Wilson felt envy towards Tom, "With an effort, Wilson left the shade...in the sunlight his face was green"(Fitzgerald 129).
Last, there is a connection between the color green and the underlying theme of the "American Dream" discussed in the novel. The American Dream of wealth and pleasure is definitely visible in Gatsby's character, "The protagonist, Jay Gatsby, personifies the American Dream as he is a man with a dubios background who managed to accomplish a luxurious style of living...by his own efforts"(Deitermann 2). Gatsby was not a rich man in his past, but he proved that wealth was possible, though in his case dishonest, even for the poorest people. The thing allowing Gatsby to accomplish this was his motivation. According to John Galt, "... the green light at the end of Daisy's dock is Gatsby's primary motivation in living his life, as well as... to represent the pursuit of wealth Gatsby has accomplished"(Galt 3). Gatsby's wealth seems to give him this ideal American Dream, but the only thing holding Gatsby back is his failure to grasp hapiness with his true love, Daisy. Gatsby did accomplish this nearly false American Dream, but the true Dream involves nobility. Without the color green, the theme of the novel wouldn't be nearly as strong. The many complex meanings to the color green, such as desiring wealth and pleasure, are what blinded people from the true American Dream of nobility.
As you can see, the symbol of the color green plays a very important role in defining some of the deeper hidden meanings to the novel. The color is responsible for representing Gatsby and the hope he's filled with. The color of course represents other things such as wealth or jealousy. With these connections in mind, the theme of the declining American Dream is much more easily portrayed, making the color green nearly the most important symbol in the novel.
- Deitermann, Julia. "Color Symbolism in F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby'." (2004) 26 Mar 2009 <http://www.grin.com/e-book/61100/color-symbolism-in-f-scott- fitzgerald-s-the-great-gatsby>.
- Fitzgerald, F. Scott . The Great Gatsby . 1995. New York : Simon & Schuster, 1995
- Galt, John."Analyzing the Characters in 'The Great Gatsby'. An Essential Piece of Literature Explained." 5 oct. 2007 <http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/395603/analyzing_the_characters_in_t he_great.html>