What Does The Color Green Symbolize In The Great Gatsby

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Madison Lok Sarah Muszynski English 301 27 February 2023 “Fate’s Complexity”: Ambition and the American Dream in The Great Gatsby In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby, a bootlegger who achieves great material wealth, lives in West Egg, across the water from East Egg, two parts of the same town representing new and old money, respectively. On the one hand, Gatsby fulfills the American dream by acquiring a mansion and other physical objects that flaunt his wealth. However, Gatsby simultaneously fails to live the promised idyllic life due to his longing for Daisy, his love interest. In the novel, the color green symbolizes this dream, while the color yellow symbolizes corruption. In a more dynamic sense, the color green represents …show more content…

Gatsby lives in West Egg, while Daisy and her husband live in East Egg. When Nick, Daisy, and Gatsby stand together in Gatsby’s house, he states, “‘If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay [...] You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock’” (Fitzgerald 92). When Gatsby speaks to Daisy about the “green light,” this image represents his “burn[ing]” passion for her, and consequently reveals how she symbolizes old money and the epitome of the American Dream for Gatsby. At the novel’s end, Nick also reflects on the light’s meaning to Gatsby, “I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light [...] He had come a long way [...] and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it” (180). Nick describes Gatsby as “pick[ing] out” the light, portraying Gatsby as choosing it to symbolize his desire for Daisy. Furthermore, Nick connects the “green light” to Gatsby’s “dream” which, Nick observes, “must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail” to achieve it. The phrase “hardly fail” uses litotes to create ironic understatement. One might expect that with Gatsby’s wealth he could “grasp” anything, but Nick’s wording displays the limits even the wealthy face. Gatsby cannot fully attain Daisy, no matter how wealthy …show more content…

Fitzgerald’s continuous use of these colors shows that on the surface, green symbolizes the American Dream, while yellow symbolizes the corruption of wealth and old money. However, upon closer analysis these colors have deeper meaning, green being a personal, idealized, and unachievable representation of the American Dream, while yellow represents the death of the dream and the will of those who pursue it. Nick mentions “the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house” to show the destruction required to build a mansion like Gatsby’s. When Gatsby dies under the “yellowing” trees, this event suggests a cycle of life and of power. Gatsby manages to achieve the American Dream in a stereotypical sense through his wealth, but not socially, evidenced by Nick’s inability to find funeral-goers. Gatsby does not attain Daisy, nor does he attain other lasting social connections, despite his lavish, crowded parties. Embodying green as a cycle of growth and yellow as the end of it, Gatsby leaves no heirs and almost no friends

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