The use of colour in the Great Gatsby is one of the most important techniques used in this book to show different themes. Indeed Fitzgerald uses five main colours : white, yellow, blue, green and grey. These colours represent either wealth, innocence, struggle in life and dreams. The main colour that is used is white. White usually represents purity and innocence. In relation to the Great Gatsby, white is associated mostly with Daisy and Jordan. Indeed, the first time they appear, ‘they were both in white’.
At this point the caracter of these two women is completly unknown and the first impression that is given to the reader here is their innocence. We then discover all along the book that neither Daisy or Jordan is innocent, and this first impression is just a cover. Indeed most of the white things associated with these two women are clothes, objects they can remove or put on. The ‘white’ in this book represents an ideal, something that is there to be ‘pretty’ but that is never attained.
This whitness also represents the ‘old money’, where the truth is usually coverd by something ‘pretty’. For example Jordan appears to be innocent, but she actually cheated for her tennis. In the same way Daisy also appears as innocent, but ends up killing someone. Daisy’s name represents a flower with white petals, the petals representing the outside of her personality, what is shown in public; and the center of the flower, the inside of her personality or the ‘real’ her. The center of a daisy is yellow, another very important colour in this book.
Yellow represents greed and money, which can easily be compared with Daisy, Jordan, Tom and even Gatsby. Daisy is called the ‘golden girl’ which, according to the colour code, would put her on the top of the greed scale. Indeed Daisy can be characterized by the person the most demanding in the whole book, with Tom, Gatsby and also Nick. Jordan’s yellow side is shown through her hair which is described as ‘autumn leaf yellow’. Although she’s less demanding, she represents wealth and fame.
To continue on this idea, Gatsby’s a character who has desire for wealth, especially to show off in front of Daisy. For Gatsby, all of his yellow belongings are used to show off, for example his yellow car or his gold tie. Another important moment where the colour yellow appears is at Gatsby’s parties. Yellow is usually there to describe the wealthiness of the party. For example, the ‘five crates of oranges and lemons’, these orange/yellow fruits are here to show the capacity to consume a huge amount, which again shows greed and wealth.
Another example is the ‘two girls in twin yellow dresses’, which is a representation of the inhabitants of West Egg, and the wealthy people who go to these parties, to show off. Indeed here we can see that people are showing their true side at these parties, and aren’t wearing white; except Nick. Another colour used also is blue. This colour is the representation of dreams, it’s often connected with Gatsby ; ‘He’d come a long way to his blue lawn’. His house which is shaded of blue, is almost seen as a dream, people come to escape and to forget about real life.
Dr. TJ. Eckleburg’s eyes are also blue, this image which is implicitly referred through the whole book, I believe, can be seen as an image of God’s eyes. In another case, Myrtle’s dress is blue which I think represents her dream to escape and to stay with Tom. Gatsby has acquired his wealth through his dreams, we can then say this is a mixture of blue and yellow, which brings me to another colour : green. Green represents spring, which is a new beginning. This mixture of dreams and envy for wealth brought Gatsby to this new beginning of his life.
The ‘green light’, is the representation of the Amercian dream ; this dream is basically based on the desire to succeed in life, which refers again to money. The last main colour used in this text is grey. Grey is a representation of the lack of life, of happiness. We can also say that grey is a lack of blue shade, which can also represent the dreams fading away. This colour is also the main description of the Valley of Ashes. Another grey symbol is Jordan’s eyes. They show a lack of love, of happiness and a general boredom in life.
Jordan is surrounded by everything she wants, therefore she has no dreams nor plans for the future. The first time Gatsby and Nick meet, they make a reference to the war and say : ‘grey little villages in France’. These villages that have suffered during the war, are seen as sad and can be referred to the valley of ashes. To conclude, the use of colours in this text is very significant to complete Nick’s description of this society. Fitzgerald shows his different ideas and thoughts on the people at that time, using mostly the depth and meaning of colours.