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Color Symbolism In The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald

986 words - 4 pages

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby in the 1920s. It is a story told through the eyes of Nick Caraway. Nick tells the story about a tragic love triangle between Nicks cousin Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby. Daisy is married to Tom Buchanan who is having an affair with a married woman named Myrtle Wilson. Fitzgerald uses many colors to describe many objects, feelings and emotions; this is called color symbolism. Color symbolism is “the use of symbols to express or represent ideas or qualities in literature, art, etc.” (Merriam-Webster.com). Some of the colors Fitzgerald uses are green, white, and cream/yellow.
The color green is used by Fitzgerald to show hope and longing, envy, and jealousy. One of the ways the color green is used is by using a green light to show Gatsby longing for Daisy’s love. Nick watches as Gatsby stares across the water “he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way” (Fitzgerald 20). Nick looks to see what Gatsby is looking at “and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock (Fitzgerald 21). It was Daisy’s dock. “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us” (Fitzgerald 180). This is referring to the hope and belief that Gatsby can win Daisy’s love. Green can symbolize many things. For instance, it can represent “ambition, greed and jealousy” (Parker). Myrtle is married to George Wilson and George is not a rich man and cannot give Myrtle nice things in life. George is pumping gas for Tom and “In the sunlight his face was green” (Fitzgerald 123). George is jealous of Tom’s money and fancy expensive car. “Green is often related to money and finance” (Fishman).
The color White is often associated with wedding dresses. “In many cultures brides have worn white for centuries to symbolize purity, chastity and innocence” (Eiseman 65). Daisy is seen wearing white a lot in The Great Gatsby. “She dressed in white, and had a little white roadster” (Fitzgerald 74). Here white is used to show the goodness and purity that Gatsby still sees Daisy having from when Gatsby met Daisy at the age of eighteen. Daisy is no longer any of these things. Daisy is not pure or innocent as shown later in the novel:
They are careless people, Tom and Daisy - they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made… (Fitzgerald 179)
On the way back from New York, Daisy and Gatsby are driving together and have an accident that hits and kills Myrtle Wilson. Daisy is the one actually driving the car and she just keeps going. Gatsby still loves Daisy even though Daisy will not leave Tom and takes the blame for Daisy.
The color Cream is a dull yellow and “represents caution, decay, sickness and jealousy”...

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