symbols and key idea- the green light/the dream and hope, water/time and the colour white/illusion
symbols are everywhere, used to represent an abstract idea or concept, and they give us an insight into the meaning of key elements throughout the Great Gatsby. The Great Gatsby is a novel written by F.Scott Fitzgerald that used many symbols throughout to highlight key ideas to reinforce the messages of the novel. The green light, water and the colour white all revealed key ideas relevant to the novel such as Gatsby’s dream, the concept of time and Daisys illusion.
The green light was a symbol that was heavily portrayed throughout The Great Gatsby as it embodied Gatsby’s hope and dream of being with Daisy. Ever since Gatsby fell involve with Daisy, he became fixated on a single dream which was being with her and living their lives together. he became so obsessed with the idea of being with her that he was unable to see that this desire was but only a dream. “involuntarily, I glanced seaward and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away”. Gatsby’s dream was one where you have to look very closely to determine and figure it out. the dream he had was singular and was his only focus and drive in life. he could not see that the actual possibility of the dream succeeding and happening was small and distant as he was so fixated on achieving it. Nick informs the reader that “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us”. Gatsby had faith in the green light, and that his dream of being with daisy would come true, he saw no reason why it wouldn’t. He envisioned the future he desired and did not see that as every year passed the reality of achieving his dream moved further and further away from his grasp. The idea of the green light and how it represented Gatsby’s dream can be linked to the American Dream. The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. For Gatsby, getting Daisy completed his ideal version of the American Dream. Gatsby never got Daisy therefore he never achieved the American Dream, so infact the reality of achieving the dream is false. Gatsby displays how the American Dream is an unachievable concept where people strive towards it but it forever remains out of reach.
The symbol Water in the great Gatsby was shown everywhere as it represented the idea of time and how it is a construct that we can not control. time is something that we cant rewind, pause or fast forward, but simply keeps on ticking continuously. Gatsby believed that the 5 year gap where him and Daisy didn’t see each other meant nothing and that they would be able to continue off exactly where they left it. the reality was that the the five year time gap was keeping them apart and would continue to keep them apart. “so we beat on, boats against the current borne back ceaselessly into the past”. this quote was said by Nick at the very end of the novel where he described how everyone continued soldiering on and fighting against time. a current is a movement of water which continues flowing forward and like a current, time continues moving forward and we can not change that. people fight against the current of time only to be brought back to the past where they try again. trying to go back is pointless as we can never control time, not even Gatsby could. Gatsby states while talking to Daisy that “if it wasn’t for the mist, we could see your home across the bay…” Mist is a form of water, and water signifies time. Although Daisy and the dream of being with her seemed close, the water and therefore the time separated them. Gatsby spent too much of his life trying to get back to the past to be with Daisy where he went to excessive lengths trying to go back and ended up losing sight of what was important in the present and in the future. He spend his whole life hoping to achieve his dream of being with Daisy and he couldn’t see the time separating them. once the realisation that he could never be with Daisy hit him, he was left with nothing and he ended up paying ‘a high price for living too long with a single dream’, all because he couldn’t see the time barrier in his way. Time causes people to move on and continue forwards with their lives, but for Gatsby he was stuck living in the past. from Gatsby’s experiences people should learn not to spend life pursuing one dream and goal as you become consumed by the idea of it and are left with nothing.
White was a colour that was shown throughout the novel and was considered ‘Daisys colour’, used to present her illusion of being innocent and pure to the reader and all of the other characters. Daisy presented to everyone the ‘white illusion’ but in fact she was more dangerous than what she showed on the outside. Daisy put on an illusion that she was someone who was sweet and innocent when in reality she was just as corrupt as everyone else and only cared about protecting her wealth, status and money. “high in a white palace, the Kings Daughter…” Daisy was described as being higher than everyone else, with more superiority than the rest. initially she was associated with status and perfection and by saying she was in a white palace and the kings daughter it suggested that she was royalty and more admirable than everyone else. “what a grotesque thing a rose is…” Roses look perfect and lovely from the outside, but are actually dangerous and can hurt you just like Daisy. In the end Daisy only cared about herself and protecting her own reputation, no matter the cost. “they smashed up things and creatures”. This quote talks about Tom and Daisy and how they were just as corrupt and selfish as every other wealthy person in America. They would do anything to protect their wealth and ensure they had their successful lifestyle. The colour white represented the the illusion Daisy put on to hide her true self but this act of purity and innocence was uncovered as no matter what, time breaks illusions. Daisy was a character who was innocent and pure from the outside but was soon discovered to be selfish and cruel. As time goes on, things are uncovered and the truth is always revealed, and what is revealed is not always what you expect or want. Illusions were present all throughout America in the 1920’s and they were considered very important because many laws and traditions were ignored, creating the illusion fo freedom and poverty.
The three symbols the green light, water and the colour white all portrayed a key idea that was relevant to the Great Gatsby. these key ideas all helped to depict essential elements from the novel and gave us an understanding of the storyline and important moments. F.Scott Fitzgerald used key symbols to allow us to make connections to certain characters, especially Gatsby and Daisy, and understand who they were as people throughout the novel.