Symbolic meaning of colors in The Great Gatsby
To begin, throughout The Great Gatsby the color yellow, also referred to as gold, has a variety of meanings. Yellow symbolizes money, high class, and Daisy. In the 1920’s, yellow is the color the upper-class uses to show themselves off, so that means it also represents gaiety and communication. In order to get Daisy back, Gatsby thinks he needs to become more successful, rich, and well known. Gatsby chooses the color yellow for his attire and house to show that he living a luxurious life. Gatsby wears a golden tie, owns a yellow car, has golden toiletries, and has gold and yellow food, music, and decorations at his enormous house parties. All of these gold and yellow items show how different the Jazz Age was, the time period in which people worshiped money and status so much that no God could stop them, in comparison to today’s world. The color yellow is closely associated with Daisy. So, it also symbolizes affluency, greed, and cowardness. Daisy is the golden girl in Gatsby’s eyes, “High in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl” (page. 115).In the book there is a scene where Gatsby is showing Daisy a pile of his shirts and Daisy starts to cry with her face submerged into Gatsby’s clothes. She finally realized that if she did not leave Gatsby then she would be living her best life instead of being in a miserable marriage.
On the other hand, yellow also symbolizes the color of the fall leaves, which is seen as death, decay, darkness, and destructive power. Before Gatsby was shot by Mr. Wilson, he did not want the chauffeurs help and vanished in the yellowing trees. One might think that Gatsby is going to go home and have Daisy waiting for him or something good will happen with his status since before this point in the book yellow was a color that symbolizes money, high class, and Daisy. At this point in the novel, the color yellow has a completely different meaning. The yellowing trees were foreshadowing Gatsby’s death. Also, Gatsby’s yellow car not only kills Mrs. Wilson, but it also eventually leads to Gatsby’s death. The color yellow not only indicates money, Daisy, and death, it also indicates the failure of the “American Dream”. Yellow shows Gatsby’s struggle in his life. It gave him confidence but also destroyed his dream and life. Yellow symbolizes the characters in The Great Gatsby and their fate.
Next, in The Great Gatsby the color white is associated with Daisy. Daisy is of course the Golden girl but the author also used white to show the fairness and innocence of her character. White symbolizes purity, innocence, peace, immaculate loveliness, nobleness, and pure beauty. When daisy first meets Gatsby she is wearing a pure white dress, “She was dressed in white and had a little white roadster.” (page. 79) and on the day Nick invites Daisy over for tea, Gatsby wears a white flannel suit. Gatsby is acting like immature. He becomes very nervous and embarrassed by Daisy. His white suite symbolizes his boyish innocence. When she was a teenager she wore all white clothes, had a white car, lived in a white house decorated with white on the inside. “The windows were ajar and gleaming white against the fresh grass outside” (page. 158) and “A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags.” (page. 246) It makes it easy for people to think that Daisy is pure, innocent, and a noble girl. However, white doesn’t actually symbolize purity, innocence, peace, immaculate loveliness, nobleness, and pure beauty, it actually symbolizes emptiness, vacuity, superficiality, ruthlessness, and selfishness to a great extent in The Great Gatsby. Describing Daisy with the color white actually shows that she has two sides to her personality. On one side she is pure and beautiful but, on the other side she is superficial, hollow, selfish and coldhearted. Daisy’s life is full of luxury and nothing else. She wasted her life away from boringness and loneliness. For example, Daisy cried, “what’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon, and the day after that, and the next thirty years?” (page. 168) Daisy represents the very hollow and superficial upper class in the Jazz Age. The color white is used to symbolize both purity and corruption.
Lastly, green is the color of spring, which symbolizes confidence, vitality and hope. Green symbolizes Gatsby’s original dream and hope, his pursuit of his dream and even corruption of his dream and life. The first time the green light is mentioned is at the end of the first chapter. “Involuntarily I glanced seaward – and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock.” (Fitzgerald, 2013, p. 169). The green light is just at the end of Daisy’s dock. In Gatsby’s eyes, the green light represents Daisy, who will always be his lifelong pursuit and dream. The second time the green light is mentioned is in chapter 5. Gatsby has shown his massive fortune to Daisy and she begins to cry when she faces Gatsby’s incredible wealth. Gatsby said to Daisy that, “You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock.” (page. 226) He is nearly realizing his dream, yet he becomes lost in a deep trance because of the huge difference between the real Daisy and his imaginary Daisy. The third time the green light is mentioned is at the end of the novel, with the death of Gatsby, the people who hold the faith in the light do not exist anymore, which indicates the reality of the American Dream. “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic 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” (page. 296) Besides the reality of his dream, the green light also represents new hope and the ceaseless struggle towards our dream. The color green makes the plot more complete and the theme more deep and profound.
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