The Green Light
Essay Question: “Gastby 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 then one fine morning - So we beat on, boat against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” (Fitzgerald, 171)
Why is this quote one of the most significant quotes from the novel? Answer this question whilst referring to the way in which this quote sums up, and is, a metaphor for Gatsby.
From the earliest forms of literature the concept of light has held huge significance in the world. Synonymous with the powerfulness of love and the idea of rebirth, it holds both hope and a sense of yearning. In famous novel, now turned motion picture, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, we see this same overwhelming significance as Jay Gatsby stands on his dock with outstretched fingers towards a green light in the distance. Narrator, Nick Carraway, observes this, stating “Gastby 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 then one fine morning - So we beat on, boat against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” (Fitzgerald, 171). This light mentioned throughout the novel, beaming green, the colour of hope, is positioned at the end of Daisy Buchanan’s dock and is one greatest metaphors for the ideals, Jay Gatsby, is reaching for and the past he left behind. Through the eyes of Nick, we see not only the torment this light and dream brings for Gatsby but the demise of human morale during the 1920’s, and the emptiness it left behind. (Neuffer, 2001) (Atkins, 2012)
After their summer romance, prior to the beginning of the novel, it is apparent that in order to obtain Daisy, Gatsby must transform himself to a man he thinks she deserves. In turn, this becomes everything the green light symbolises. Loaded with a sense of hope and determination, it’s brightness in the initial pages of the novel helps the reader understand how Daisy is ultimately Gatsby’s goal, and how he finally believes he is worthy of the love between the two. As the novel continues, the light dims and becomes harder to see through the fog, recognition that Daisy, and his dream are slipping out of his reach, and his perfectly planned future is becoming hazy. The final link the light has within the novel is it’s connection to the corrupt image of the American Dream in
the 1920’s. With the green colour similar to that of money, the constant presence of the light shows how the American people valued wealth over true happiness, and as it grows hazier the reader see’s the morale of society decline. (Shmoop, 2014)
Whilst the green light was used as a metaphor for all the things Gatsby desired it was also a metaphor for the man himself. As Nick states is chapter nine: “Gastby believed in the green...