The Great Gatsby Symbolism In Colors Essay

The Great Gatsby: Symbolism In Colors Essay, Research Paper

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

his demise.

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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