The Great Gatsby Symbolism Essay

The Great
Gatsby Symbolism Essay
The Hidden Story in Green and White
Color symbolism is really popular in novels
written during the 1920’s. One such example is Scott Fitzgerald’s novel
The Great Gatsby. There is much color symbolism in this novel, but there
are two main colors that stand out more than the others. The colors green
and white influence the story greatly. Green shows many thoughts, ideas,
attitudes, and choices that Gatsby has throughout the story. White represents
the stereotypical facade that every character is hiding behind.

The color green, as it is used in the novel,
symbolizes different choices the character, Gatsby, can make during his
life. The green element in this novel is taken from the green light at
the end of the dock near Daisy’s house. The color itself represents serenity,
as in everything is perfect. This warns Gatsby that he should not pursue
his dream for getting Daisy back, because his chance has passed and everything
is as it should be. This is shown with Nick’s insight, “…His dream must
have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not
know that it was already behind him… (Pg.189)”
Another symbolization of the color green,
which contradicts the first, is the meaning “go.” As in a traffic light
signal, most people associate green with the word and action “go.” This
can be interpreted as meaning Gatsby should go for his dream without hesitation.

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It implies that Gatsby and Daisy are meant to be together and nothing should
stop Gatsby from his destined happiness and love with Daisy. It inspires
hope for Gatsby that he is on the right path, heading towards the best
years of his life. He believes that things will soon be as they once were,
only better. “”I’m going to fix everything just the way they were before,”
he said nodding determinedly. “She’ll see.”(Pg. 117.)”
The last symbolization the color green
has in this novel is an urge to strive ahead in life, to do better in life
and succeed. Gatsby changes his entire persona for a better, more sociable,
image and status. He is constantly striving to be a more successful figure
in society. Ever since he was a boy he put himself on a schedule with hopes
for becoming a highly respected, well-known person. “He knew he had a big
future in front of him. (Pg. 181),” his dad says about him. “Jimmy was
bound to get ahead. He always had some resolves like this…(Pg. 182).”
White is the other color symbolism interlaced
into this novel. Where green only influenced one character, white has a
wider range of influence on the characters. This color symbolizes one thing,
a facade, but it appears in every character. For example, Daisy
is always seen wearing white, which gives her and innocent naive appearance.

It is as though she uses that as an excuse for when she does something
ridiculous or childish, making it seem like she does not know any better.

In reality, she knows exactly what she does but just doesn’t care. She
uses this little princess image and her money to hide her biased, snobbish,
and conceited view of herself and her lifestyle. “They were 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…(Pg. 187-188).”
Another character that hides behind the
white symbolic facade is Jordan Baker. She also wears white quite
often. She acts as though she is superior to everyone around her. Her posture,
her attitude, and even the things she says imply this arrogance. “She was
extended full length at her end of the divan, completely motionless and
with her chin raised a little as if she were balancing something on it
which was quite likely to fall. If she saw me she me out of the corner
of her eyes she gave no hint of it-indeed I was almost surprised into murmuring
an apology for having disturbed her by coming in. (Pg.13).” She portrays
a bored and apathetic attitude about everything, which is part of her “I
am too good for you” appearance. In reality, she just wants to be as respected
and socially accepted as Gatsby. She is not willing to take responsibility
for her actions and uses her image as a guard implying that she could not
have possibly done anything immoral, much like Daisy.

However, “She was incurably dishonest.

She wasn’t able to endure being at a disadvantage, and given this unwillingness
I suppose she had begun dealing in subterfuges when she was very young
in order to keep the cool insolent smile turned towards the world and yet
satisfy the demands of her hard jaunty body. (Pg. 63).”
Color symbolism is not very noticeable,
yet it can tell a great deal about a story. In this case, the colors give
the reader a look at the character’s choices and the paths he or she could
have chosen compared to the ones the character chose, which adds dimension
to the story. The green the different choices Gatsby can make, whether
it serves as a warning, an inspiration, or an urge to get ahead. The white
symbolizes a mask, or a facade. It allows the characters to portray
themselves as a whole other person and hide who they really are. This puts
a piece of reality into the story, as everyone wears a white mask of some
kind to hide his or her true self from the world. It is the unsubtle clues
given to the reader that are fascinating and allow a person to relate to
the characters.