Example Essay Symbolism in the Great Gatsby
Symbolism is one of the important literary devices that adds to the realism and depth of the emotion. Rather than letting the author write long sentences for their explanation, symbolism can play a huge part throughout the story between characters and events. For example, in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the green light is one of the important symbols that signifies an important connection throughout the novel. Tom’s mansion is direct across the bay from Gatsby’s mansion, where Gatsby can always instantly see the green light as he awaits to see Daisy.
The green light represents everything that haunts Gatsby: the physical and emotional distance between him and Daisy, the gap between the past and present, and the promises for his future. Green colors have also appeared throughout the novel as they may have a lot of uses to show new, natural, naive, and innocence. The greenlight had the connection of love for Daisy; however, Gatsby’s downfall begins when he stops seeing the green light as a symbol for his dreams and goals.
The symbol is first used when Nick introduces the mysterious Gatsby as Nick says, “a figure had emerged from the shadow of my neighbor’s mansion and was standing with his hands in his pockets regarding the silver pepper of the stars. Something in his leisurely movements and the secure position of his feet upon the lawn suggested that it was Mr. Gatsby himself, come out to determine what share was his of our local heavens.” (Fitzgerald.25) This light is located at the end of Daisy Buchanan’s dock. So the most apparent interpretation is that the light symbolizes Gatsby’s longing for Daisy and his aspiration to win her over.
From a narrator’s perspective, Nick had mysteriously described how he could see Gatsby as he reached toward the lights. The green light is described as ‘minute and far away, which shows the impossibility for Gatsby to get it, connecting to it as he couldn’t reach for Daisy. Further, into the novel, it is revealed that Gatsby really desires Daisy, which is also his desire from the past.
Gatsby and Daisy had loved each other before, but while he was in the military, she had chosen Tom over him; therefore, one of his goals was to win her back. Later, he ended up crashing into Daisy at Nick’s house – showing Daisy around his mansion.
Gatsby had once again reunited with Daisy at the green light, but suddenly his hopes and dreams had faded: “You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock. Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy, it had seemed very near to her.” (Fitzgerald. 98) As the light represents Gatsby’s dream, this shows that Daisy is now a reality rather than a dream and that Gatsby has to let go of the ideal he created for her and face her as a real person.
Sadness, troubling, and concern- Gatsby has now been absorbed to the green light. He ignores Daisy while trying to comfort Gatsby as she puts her arms around him. Compared to the understanding of the green light at the beginning of the story as a “delighted” green light, it has now been a “colossal” significance due to Gatsby had loved Daisy for so long that he couldn’t even be stable when he saw Daisy; he now doesn’t have to wait for Daisy; he’s now standing with her at the dock. As Gatsby’s dream vanishes, the green light takes its universal quality, meaning that it stands for Gatsby’s unreachable dream.
After Gatsby’s death, the green light also represents the future. This future is forever difficult, as Nick claims on the last page of the novel: “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run farther, stretch out our arms farther….” (Fitzgerald.189) This describes Gatsby’s inability to move on from the past since he wants to reunite with Daisy.
In the end, Gatsby’s death ends his dreams and goals. Were 5 years of rebuilding himself worth a girl who couldn’t return his love? Gatsby was perfecting his life and a moment for one girl, yet she was too self-centered to care about him compared to how much he loved her. Perhaps she just loved the attention and didn’t truly love him. The green light had overall consumed all of Gatsby’s dreams and goals he had made. From wanting to reunite Daisy, his goal of getting Daisy back wasn’t successful at all.
Now the light has totally ceased being an observable object. Nick is not in Long Island anymore, Gatsby is dead, Daisy is gone for good, and the only way the green light exists is in Nick’s memories and philosophical observations. This means that the light is now just a symbol and nothing else. Overall, Nick was the only true friend there for Gatsby while others disappeared.