Symbolism in The Great Gatsby
The novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a story full of many symbols as well as several different themes that are evident throughout the novel. These themes include different uses of certain colors, the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg, the Valley of Ashes, East Egg and West Egg, and the green light at the end of Daisy Buchanan’s dock. The novel also reveals numerous themes, including those of the past, present and future, the carelessness of the wealthy, and many more, with the central theme being that of the corruption of the American dream (Millett). The multiple symbols within The Great Gatsby help to convey the various underlying themes throughout the entirety of the novel.
One major symbol exhibited in The Great Gatsby is the symbolic green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. This green light has many different symbolic meanings, one of them being Gatsby’s hopes and dreams. Gatsby has many different longings which are represented by the green light. This light signifies more than just the distance between Gatsby and his lost love, but also the distance between the past and the present, and the promise that the future holds. An additional longing of Gatsby’s that goes along with the green light is his longing for money, another green substance controlling his life all through the novel. The color green itself is often used throughout the novel in numerous different occasions. Although Gatsby’s car is described in the book as being yellow, Michealis, “told the first policeman that it was light green” (Fitzgerald 137). Nick also describes the New World as, “a fresh, green breast” (Fitzgerald 180). These examples of green as a symbol can be compared to the many different symbols involved with money, some being “new” and “natural,” and others being “rotten” and “sickly” (“The Great Gatsby”).
This green light at the end of Daisy’s dock symbolizes an extremely important theme of this novel. The green light signifies the hope for the future (Millett). It is evident throughout the novel that Gatsby has high hopes for his future with Daisy, thinking that his love for her is stronger than the love she shares with her husband, Tom (“The Great Gatsby”). The ending of the novel brings this theme to attention during one of the final paragraphs, stating, “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 farther… And one fine morning –” (Fitzgerald 180). However, instead of attempting to establish a future with Daisy, he is actually trying to “repeat the past” (Fitzgerald 110). Gatsby is extremely desperate for a bright future with Daisy, but is unable to create something new from his past with her, due to the fact that she has already started a family with Tom. This causes his longing to restore the past as opposed to creating something original (Layng).
Two additional important...