Essay/Term paper: The great gatsby: symbolism in colors
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The Great Gatsby: Symbolism in Colors
Colors can symbolize many different things. Artists use colors in their
paintings when they want you to see what they are trying to express. Like if
an artist is trying to express sorrow or death he often uses blacks blues, and
grays basically he uses dreary colors. You automatically feel what the artist
is trying to express. When the artist uses bright colors you feel warm and you
feel happiness. In the novel The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald is like an
artist. He uses colors to symbolize the many different intangible ideas in the
book. He uses the color yellow to symbolize moral decay decadence and death.
Then he uses the color white to symbolize innocence. He also uses the color
green to express hope. Fitzgerald's use of the color green the strongest.
Although these are not the only colors that Fitzgerald uses for symbolism, they
are the ones that he expresses the most. This book is a very colorful book in
the sense that it uses colors to cover so many different aspects of peoples
Fitzgerald uses the color yellow to symbolize moral decay. On (Page 18)
he writes " The lamp-light, bright on his boots and dull on the autumn-leaf
yellow of her hair." He is talking about Tom and Jordan Baker, and he is
suggesting that tom might be heading for moral decay. In the book there are
several things that Tom does that might prove this. First of all Tom is having
an affair with Myrtle Wilson. A second thing is that he does not like Gatsby,
and several times he tries to prove that he is not who he says he is. Tom even
hires a detective to prove this. Gatsby had a Rolls Royce that was yellow "His
station wagon scampered like a yellow brisk-bug . . ." (Page 39). Gatsby's car
was referred to many times in the book, but it was always referred to as "The
yellow car" (Page 157).
The color yellow was used most frequently when there was a death. One
of the first things that Fitzgerald wrote about when Myrtle died was when they
laid her on a table in the garage. He wrote "The garage, which was lit only by
a yellow light in a swinging wire basket overhead" page . Wilson her husband
was in a dazed state, and kept referring to his car only as the "Yellow car"
(Page157) "That big yellow car" (Page141). That car led to Gatsby's demise.
Just before Gatsby was shot by Wilson, Gatsby decided he was going to take a
swim in his pool. He had not used it all summer. The chauffeur helped Gatsby
fill up a mattress he was going to use in the pool. "Gatsby shouldered the
mattress and started for the pool. Once he stopped and shifted it a little, and
the chauffeur asked him if he needed help, but he shook his head and in a moment
disappeared among the yellowing trees." Page (161-162) Perhaps another sign of
Green is a very strong color in this book. It symbolizes hope. Gatsby
and Daisy had met for a short time before he went off to war. When he returned
he knew that Daisy had married Tom. He desperately wanted to get back together
with her. So much so that he bought a house where he could see Daisy's house
from his. Gatsby was able to pick out a green light at the end of her dock, and
often looked toward it. I feel that green was symbolized as the deepest feeling
in this book. Gatsby was so close to his dream of being with Daisy. He worked
hard to get where he was, but before he could achieve his dream his life was
Another color that was used frequently was white. It symbolized
innocence. (Page 75) Jordan Baker talks about Daisy, "She dressed in white and
drove a little white roadster . . ." I think what Fitzgerald is saying is that
when Daisy was younger she symbolized innocence. He also expressed that thought
when he says she had a white girlhood on (Page 20). He also talks about the
steps to Gatsby's house as being white. Maybe what he was saying was that on
the outside it looked innocent, but on the inside it was not.
Fitzgerald also uses many other colors such as silver, gray, pink,
lavender, brown and black to symbolize the many other feelings. In this book he
shows us how society uses colors to express our feelings. We use black at
funerals, white at weddings, and red with war and love. Many people use colors
to express their feelings, and don't even realize what they are doing.
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Character Color Analysis”The Great Gatsby”, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is discusses social classes, and focuses on the theme of a fading social order. This theme is shown in the relationships between the characters and undoubtedly in the characters themselves. Throughout the novel, Fitzgerald not only uses color symbolism to set the scenes and events, but he also uses it to present, describe, and shape every single character. Gatsby is one of these characters; his choices, decisions, ideas, and beliefs are represented by symbolism and colors yellow, green, and white.
First, yellow stands out as the color that represents new money and wealth acquired. “…I put my arm around Jordan’s golden shoulder.”(Pg. 77). Fitzgerald uses gold, a vivid representation of yellow, to symbolize the wealth gained by Gatsby and the immense desire for him to get even more and to show it off to the entire society. In the light of the following events, it is easy to see how Gatsby is blinded by his love for Daisy and therefore money. He buys a large yellow Rolls Royce to show off his new money. The band at his party plays “yellow cocktail music” to show his fulsome way of living and life. Yellow, as in Egypt and Burma, also symbolizes Gatsby’s mourning about showing and telling his past; the yellow shirt he wears while he is lying to Nick about his past is a vivid example of this symbolism.
Second, Fitzgerald uses the color green to symbolize greed, hope, and jealousy. The new money and wealth gained by Gatsby is nothing compared to the old money that Tom Buchanan has always had. “In the sunlight his time was green.”(Pg. 117). Green represents the envy that Gatsby feels for Tom and for the fact that Daisy is with him just because of his wealth. Gatsby’s hopeless love and envy for daisy is represented by this color. The bright light that this color gives shows the hope Gatsby had for being with daisy. The green light of Daisy’s dock shows how much he hopes and desires a chance to live his future with the love of his life.
Third, Fitzgerald uses the color white to symbolize purity and a mask covering dishonesty. This purity is shown in Gatsby’s hopeless desire to gain Daisy’s love, as she was the white lady of his dreams presented to him for the first time in a shiny white dress. This white dress shows Gatsby’s view over her as pure worn by her shows how much her corruption was being masked or at least tried to be masked. “His Heart beat faster when Daisy’s white face came up to his own.”(Pg. 107). She also uses white powder on her face and at one point she starts talking about her “white girlhood” and how she was so pure and naïve. Gatsby’s dream was getting destroyed piece by piece by this white veil of corruption and materialism. Gatsby’s white dreams were nothing but an entangled chaos brought by Daisy’s materialistic ideas. After all, Gatsby’s true love turns out to be a black witch masked by a white veil of purity.
In final consideration, Fitzgerald builds and shapes a world of colors around the characters of the story, creating not only their different looks and behaviors, but also elaborating their personalities and sentiments. These colors connect the reader to the novel by making him see and feel the actual events and emotions a character has and not only an imaginative image. Gatsby’s example, which is full of lines rich of color imagery, makes the reader feel what he feels; sense what he senses; and try to be what he is. Gatsby’s figure is greatly shaped by this color imagery, validating and supporting the title of the book, colors show how great The Great Gatsby was.