Green is the color of hope and it is viewed as one of the most important symbols in The Great Gatsby. Gatsby believed in the power of green light and its ability to provide him with everything that he desired. He felt that it could take away all his worries and create a prosperous life for him. Gatsby is characterized as being naive since his dreams led him from rags to riches, and he was able to see a new developed America. Clearly, the green light represents far more than just a dock light.
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It represents the distinctive differences between the West and East Egg, the obsessive love Gatsby has for Daisy, and how Gatsby wants to live the ‘American Dream. ’ The green light also consequently becomes the reason for Gatsby’s downfall at the end of the novel. The green light symbolizes the class distinction between the East and West Eggers. The green light is located across the bay on the East side where Gatsby is pointing. Even though both sides are equally rich, there is something that Gatsby lacks that is located on the other side.
Nick, the narrator of the book discovers his neighbor reaching towards something. He finds it rather absurd to see a man, late at night standing at the end of his neighbor’s dock looking out into nothing but a single green light that is continuously blinking. He states, “ I could’ve sworn he was trembling involuntarily I glance seaward and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of the dock”(Fitzgerald, 25). Nick Abidi, 2 seems to spend that night contemplating on whether or not that green light has a significant meaning in Gatsby’s life.
Also, the green light is located in the East Egg. In comparison to the East and West Egg, Nick notices the difference to a great extent. He states, “I lived at the West Egg, the-well, less fashionable of the two, thought this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little
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sinister contrast between them” “Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water…”(Fitzgerald, 10). Although people from both sides are considered rich and were brought up through the economic ladder, social status separates them. The question is whether the author attempts to make the East Egg more superior by having Gatsby reach out for something that at first does not belong to him. Even at the time that Gatsby becomes rich, the East Eggers do not accept him as they feel that he is from an inferior class having gained prosperity recently. He is embarrassed about his past since he comes from a poor family and wants to hide this from society. Like a child, he takes advantage of his new surroundings.
Gatsby acknowledges that even though the West and East Egg were part of one city, they still never became united. The green light inspires Gatsby to organize lavish parties that help bring the new and old rich together. Since the green light constantly reminds him that there is a difference, he makes the parties more consistent and better each time. De Valera mentions her opinion in her magazine blog called 6th Year DeValera Study Guide. She writes, “Despite the superficial nature of his parties, there seems to be something authentic about Gatsby.
His display is really something else. Gatsby maybe a “West Egger”, he may behave like a nouveau riche, however perhaps there is some substance to him that the bespectacled Owl Eyes, whose glasses recall the omniscient eyes of Eckleburg witness in the authenticity of his library. ” (De Valera, 6th Year DeValera Study Guide). This proves that Abidi, 3 even though Gatsby was a West Egger (people who are known to be foolish, tacky and people with no morals or values) he appeared to be more ‘real’ and authentic than most people from New York.
He kept authentic and original copies of literature, which meant he wasn’t just keeping the books there to show off, but they actually had a purpose to serve. He reached out towards the green light, located in the East Egg but he didn’t realize that the people living at the other end were much different than the West Eggers. However, the only difference was that they were higher in class as they came from rich ancestry. Nick, the narrator observes this during Gatsby’s funeral when no one comes to give their condolences.
No one was present including the people who were a part of his parties that brought Americans from different ethnic backgrounds, class status and talents together. Gatsby’s attempts to bring people together and having failed to change their mentality had a severe impact on his mindset and this had broken him. All the entertainment, liquor and live music that he provided for the people to socialize together meant nothing to them. At the end, nothing came of it and he was buried in an empty funeral home. The green light thus also became a symbol of destruction for Gatsby’s character.
The green light doesn’t just symbolize the class and status difference between the two Eggs. It also symbolizes Gatsby’s insanity; his love for Daisy. It was revealed midway through the novel that Gatsby was madly in love with Daisy. Gatsby believed destiny had split them up due to different circumstances and once again destiny brought them together to begin where they had once left off. The green light was the destination that led him to Daisy as it was located right in front of her house. After their reunion, Daisy agreed to drop by Gatsby’s house and admired what he’d achieved in the last five years that they had been apart.
She realized that she loved Gatsby. The feelings were reoccurring and she couldn’t help but fall in his arms. When Daisy was Abidi, 4 in his arms, he pointed out his balcony and said “If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay. You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock”(Fitzgerald, 90). Ironically, the same green light would flicker when Daisy was far away and out of reach. When Daisy was near him, the mist hid the green light. This symbolizes that Gatsby had reached his goal, and what he had longed for so long was now in his arms.
However, mist is a substance that only hides things temporarily and it symbolizes Daisy’s love for Gatsby, which is also temporary and translucent. Nick notices Gatsby’s obsessive love for Daisy and witnesses Daisy cheating on him with Tom. Nick felt that the green light forced Gatsby to let Daisy commit this unfaithful act. Nick quotes “ Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had not vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It was seemed as close as a star to the moon.
Now it was again touching her. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted object had diminished one by one” (Fitzgerald, 90). Gatsby watched that light everyday and hoped that one day he would grasp it. Gatsby was unable to be with Daisy due to his class and status. This proves that Gatsby failed to relive the past and bring Daisy back into his life. Gatsby’s love for Daisy was obsessive and it meant absolutely nothing to Daisy. Barbara K. Hilsmeyer quotes, “Another bad characteristic of Gatsby personality is his compulsive optimism which is impractical.
His optimism lays in the goodness of Daisy. He cannot see Daisy for what she really is and he overlooks any flaws or faults that she has” Even when after Daisy kill Myrtle in the automobile accident and doesn’t stop, he fails to see her faults or condemn her in anyway” (Hilmeyer, para. 11). The green light was by Daisy’s house and Gatsby Abidi, 5 would look at it trying to reach out for it. However, Daisy is two faced and was misjudged by Gatsby. His love for her blinded him from what could possibly harm him. Gatsby lived in a fairy tale and hoped that he could change his destiny but that was not to be.
The green light forced Gatsby to live in the past. Daisy was Gatsby’s weakness and the green light would constantly remind him of her, which brought about his character’s downfall. Further, the green light has a more literal meaning to it as well and it represents the ‘American Dream. ’ The novel simply itself doesn’t portray the Jazz Age, but it is a dramatic representation of the American Dream. When he reached out for the green light, he was reaching towards a dream, a dream that many other Americans also want to achieve.
Gatsby had a strong determination to escape his poor past. Nick quotes “He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one, before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick” (Fitzgerald, 89) The different shirts that he owned were to show that he was wealthy and prosperous. He was obsessed with wealth and had wanted to gain something in life since he had met Dan Cody. The obsession led Gatsby to constantly provide himself with the luxuries that he had always wanted and the “foolishness” and “tackiness” was reflected in his mannerisms.
He never let go of an opportunity to show off his wealth. He is a perfect example of the American Dream because he came from humble beginnings, and was able to do well for himself. The green light was a source of inspiration for him as it kept him motivated to follow his ambitions. The American dream was symbolized through the green colour of the light. The color ‘green’ represent the action ‘go’ or the idea of chasing after your dreams. America was filled with opportunities for the people that had already attained wealth and for those that wanted to Abidi, 6 inherit it.
All the riches and glamour had blinded many individuals from their morals and values, which they possessed before. The American dream was exploited and the luxuriant ease had become a symbol for success. Hilmeyer states “ Gatsby is linked to the 1920’s world itself, but he is also historically associated with the “American Dream”, with their progress and aspirations. In many ways, Gatsby is a marvel of symbolically compressed cultural history of the original promise, seen in the “fresh green beast of the new world” of the growth and decline of that promise” (Hilmeyer, para.7) Wealth and ambition is something everyone in America wanted to achieve. People were amused and attracted to the American dream, took advantage of it, and eventually it died once it was abused by the people. Ironically, the people of America played a part in Gatsby’s downfall as a character. They abused his parties, took advantage of his wealth and as soon as the parties ended, they abandoned him when he needed them the most. Therefore, the green light also symbolizes how the people lacked morals, labeled him as a womanizer and disrespected Gatsby when they knew that he was killed.
The American dream experienced a downfall where people lacked morals and got carried away with all that was offered by the country. The green light symbolized the American dream as a whole and it was exploited. Gatsby wanted to live the American dream more than anything else. He was passionate and determined to a great extent. His life was filled with corruption that had become very tempting, as he felt that it was the fastest and easiest way for him to attain wealth. The American dream shattered and was perished since it was misused.
The green light led Gatsby to the American dream which was destroyed shortly after his tragic death. In conclusion, Gatsby was a hero and died with dignity. He had been a role model for the people in the 1920’s. Nick remembered his kind words, his gestures, his hospitality and most Abidi, 7 importantly how authentic and genuine his smile was. Gatsby’s drive towards success was the green light, which symbolized his path to success and becoming a West Egger, his obsessive love for Daisy and lastly, the urge and determination to complete the American Dream. The green light was not only witnessed and analyzed by Gatsby, but it also had a profound impact on Nick. At the end of the novel, he states “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. I eluded us then, nut that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further…And one fine morning- So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back cease-lessly into the past” (Fitzgerald, 171).See More on F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby