Symbolism in The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby, uses symbolism throughout the novel to create the characters and events of the post World War I period. Colors are one way symbolism was used to develop the characters’ personalities and set up events. This is shown by colors like the green at the end of Daisy Buchannan’s dock, the color of Jay Gatsby’s car and how Myrtle and Jordan surrounded themselves by white. Other symbolisms used to set up events are the difference in the people of the West Egg and East Egg and the sign in the “valley of ashes”.
Daisy Buchanan has a green light at the end of her of dock on the other side of the bay from Jay Gatsby’s house. The green light represents Jay’s money, jealousy, and the go ahead for Jay Gatsby to get Daisy back from Tom no matter what it takes.. “Gatsby stretched his arms towards the dark water in a curious way, and as far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward-and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of the dock” (p25-26). Jay Gatsby thinks that money will make his former lover come back to him. Every one that attends the party is very envious of Jay Gatsby’s money. Gatsby is very jealous of Tom because he is married to Daisy.
Gatsby bought a gold car to show of his great wealth. He wanted Daisy to see the car, know he had become wealthy, and was now the man she wanted him to be. “It was a yellow car, he said”(p147)
Daisy and Jordan wore the color white through out the novel. “They were both in white and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blow back in after a short flight around the house (p12). Daisy is often surrounded by white or is wearing white, which would indicate that she pure, but in fact, she is not innocent at all. Jordan Baker who is also characterized with the color white is portrayed as being angelic childlike, when she really was very dishonest.
The East Egg and West Egg are symbolic of the effects of wealth and the corruption of values. The West Egg is the home of the newly rich, like Gatsby, and those like him who have made huge fortunes, but lack the traditions associated with old wealthy families. The West Egg made up of families like the Buchanans, have a tradition of money, have grown up with money and have never had to work for anything
The character Myrtle showed symbolism by wearing plain and dull clothes at home with her husband George, but when she knew she would be around Tom, she would change into clothes with bright colors. She did this to try to fool herself in to thinking that she was not a poor girl from the suburbs, and tried to fool Tom into thinking that she was exotic and would fit into a rich life style. Some times when she would put on these clothes, her whole attitude would change. Myrtle would go from being a nice lady to a snob.