Colors are an essential part of the world around us

Colors are an essential part of the world around us. They can convey messages, expressing that which words do not. Gentle blue tones can calm a person and bright yellows can lift the spirits. If an artist is trying to express sorrow or death he often uses blacks blues, and grays basically he uses dreary colors. Without one word, a driver approaching a red traffic light knows to stop. Colors are representative of many things. In his novel The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald uses color symbolism throughout as a major device in thematic and character development. He uses colors to symbolize the many different intangible ideas in the book. Throughout the book characters, places, and objects are given “life” by colors, especially the more prominent ones.
F. Scott Fitzgerald utilizes the color yellow to symbolize moral deterioration and depravity. F. Scott Fitzgerald writes, “The lamp-light, bright on his boots and dull on the autumn-leaf yellow of her hair (18).” F. Scott Fitzgerald is referring to Tom and Daisy Buchannan and he is signifying that Tom is slowly progressing towards moral decay. In the novel, there are several incidents that prove Tom is in fact, progressing towards moral decay. First, Tom is having an affair with Myrtle Wilson. Second, Tom does not like Jay Gatsby, and several times he attempts to prove that Gatsby is not who he claims he is. Tom even goes as far as to hire a detective in his attempts to prove that Gatsby is not who he claims he is. In the novel, Jay Gatsby had a Rolls Royce automobile that was yellow in color. “His station wagon scampered like a yellow brisk-bug (. . .) (39).” Gatsby’s car was referred to many times in the novel, but it was always referred to as “The yellow car (157).” F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the color yellow in his novel to also signify corruption. Jay Gatsby, though he had honorable intentions, allowed his desire for wealth to cause him to become a part of the world of organized crime. Gatsby’s world was filled with the yellow of corruption. He drove a yellow Rolls-Royce, the car that caused the death of Myrtle Wilson. At his lavish parties on West Egg Island, yellow cocktail music played as hordes of guests, including two girls in twin yellow dresses took part in illegal drinking and promiscuity. Jay Gatsby had mob ties in the city of Chicago, and when Nick returned to the Midwest, the sight of the murky yellow cars of Chicago rooted itself in his memory. Gatsby was a man who knew what he wanted and did not care to do whatever it took to acquire it. He would resort to terrible activities such as bootlegging and lies. He did anything to get the wealth that he thought would win over Daisy Buchanan. Fittingly, the last time Gatsby was seen alive, he “disappeared among the yellowing trees (167).”Gatsby was not the only one surrounded by the corruption of the color yellow. Yellow seemed to surround George Wilson’s home in the Valley of Ashes. His house is made of yellow brick and is the only place that is strictly referred to as yellow in the novel. The house contains infected individuals; both Myrtle and George. Moral decay is apparent in Mr. Wilson when he eventually plots and decides to kill Jay. While regaining his composure from losing his Myrtle in an accident caused by Gatsby’s car, Mr. Wilson continually refers to the Gatsby’s car as “the yellow car (157)” Mr. Wilson does this repeatedly until the image of Gatsby’s yellow car convinces him to kill Gatsby. Mrs. Wilson exhibits moral decay a well. She cheats on her husband, and even admits to regretting their marriage to begin with. She says, “The only crazy I was when I married him (30).” The billboard of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg sitting in the Valley of Ashes is related to the Mr. Wilson’s corruption. Mr. Wilson views the billboard as a god-like figure. Not surprisingly, Doctor T.J. Eckleburg is wearing yellow glasses, representing the moral wasteland and corruption of the American society as well as of the lives of the characters and novels that he views. The connection between the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg and a god-like figure exists only in Mr. Wilson’s corrupted mind. It is completely apparent that corruption and moral decay are distinctly represented by the color yellow.
Green is definitely one of the key color symbols throughout this book. It is said that the color green symbolizes hope. In the story, Daisy and Gatsby met for a short time before Gatsby made the decision to go off to war. Gatsby returned home and he knew that Daisy had married Tom, but he hoped to find a way to get back with her, and so he decided to purchase a house near Daisy to keep an eye on her. Gatsby moved to the East and purchased a house across the lake from where Daisy currently lived. Fitzgerald made it seem as though Gatsby would often stair off at night into the distance at the green light on the pier near Daisy’s house. The green light on the pier most likely represented the hope that Gatsby had to winning daisy back. The color green is shows Gatsby’s hope, His hope to win daisy back. One could aslo say that It represents his hope of chasing wealth. The green light on the pier was motivation for Gatsby to work towards those two hopes, to keep on trying to win Daisy again and to chase “the American dream”. Gatsby came very close to his dream of being with Daisy. He did everything that he could to accomplish that. Throughout Gatsby’s life he worked hard to save money to impress Daisy. He did this by throwing amazing parties, full of people he did not know, all in hopes that by chance Daisy would decide to join and come to one. Gatsby felt like he knew what he was doing, and to him, the green light on the pier was encouragement for him to keep pursuing Daisy. Gatsby also had hoped to obtain wealth, proving that the color green represented hope for Gatsby. All his life Gatsby did everything he could to earn money, Showing his hopes and ambitions.Green, while representing hope, can also represent rebirth. Green trees that have been that have looked as though they carry no life through winter; always refurbish themselves with green blossoms that show rebirth. When Gatsby stared off into the distance at the green light on Daisy’s pier across the lake, he was hopping for the renewing or rebirth of their old relationship. He constantly denies himself from believing that the fire between him and Daisy has died, he never loses hope. Gatsby assumed that Daisy was still the same, he thought that she was still perfect as he saw her before, and that caused him to still believe and have hope that the two of them could be together. In the book Nick once told Gatsby that he could not “repeat the past”. Gatsby responded by saying. “Can’t repeat the past?’ he cried incredulously, ‘Why of course you can!” (64) The green light on the pier gave Gatsby the hope that he could do anything. Gatsby is one of the main characters that is most associated with the color green throughout the story, mostly because he is the character who is hoping for the most. In one scene in the book Nick walks outside at night and sees Gatsby standing alone in the dark, and says “He stretched out his arms towards the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling involuntarily I glanced seaward – and distinguishing nothing except a single green light, minute and faraway, that might have been the end of a dock.” (22)Clearly the color green represents hope, in the book Nick hints once proves that it does when he talks about what the “old Dutch sailors” coming to America thought when saw America. Nick described America by saying, “the fresh, green breast of the New World” (182) Showing that the new world or America showed so much hope for them, by mentioning the word green. Fitzgerald obviously described this thought of Nick’s in the novel so that he could further prove the significance of the symbol of hope in the color green, and also the color’s significance to Gatsby. Nick then says, “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us” (182) meaning that Gatsby hoped to gain his old relationship with Daisy back, even though Gatsby did not understand this because he had such strong hope that he could gain his old relationship with Daisy back.
F. Scott Fitzgerald also utilizes many other colors such as silver and gold to convey different themes and emotions occurring throughout the novel. In his novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald depicts how society uses colors to express feelings. As a society, we use black at funerals, white at weddings, and red for love. In the same way that we as a society utilize those colors to represent themes and emotions, F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the colors silver and gold in his novel to represent wealth. On East Egg Island at Tom and Daisy Buchanans’ house, the house had on it, “French windows, glowing with reflecting gold (39).” It is apparent that the owners of that house- Tom and Daisy Buchanan were substantially wealthy and extremely fond of their money as to project their wealth on the exterior of their home. Jay Gatsby, being very fond of Daisy Buchanan and aspiring to win her over was conscious of how important wealth and riches were to her. Being aware of this fact, Gatsby attempted to illustrate to her that he was a prosperous man. He attempted to exhibit his wealth to Daisy Buchanan by buying an enormous house, sitting on the wealthy West Egg Island, complete with a gold toilet seat. Also, when he traveled to East Egg Island to see her for the first time at Nick Carraway’s home, he had on a silver shirt and a gold colored tie. Gatsby constantly threw lavish parties every weekend in the hopes that Daisy would take notice of the wealth and high class affairs of Gatsby. Aside from the importance of wealth Gatsby felt towards Daisy, he also felt that wealth was important for himself as well. He “was overwhelmingly aware of the youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves… gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor (51).” Many of the characters in this novel are obsessed with money to the point where it defines much of who they are as a person. At one point in time in the novel, Nick walks into a room and sees that “Daisy and Jordan lay upon an enormous couch, like silver idols (22).” Throughout the novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald intricately incorporates color into every scene, not only giving a clear visual picture of the events, but also symbolically emphasizing his themes and characterization through the utilization of color. Through his incorporation of the colors silver and gold, one can conclude that wealth is a core value to many of the characters within the novel.
One of this other colors that was used as a symbol throughout this book was white. In contrast to yellow, white is used as a symbol of purity and innocence. The character Jordan Baker describes Daisy by saying, “She dressed in white and drove a little white roadster . . .” (75) Fitzgerald is trying to convey through Jordan Baker that when Daisy was younger she was a symbol of innocence. He also showed this same exact idea when he said that “she had a white girlhood” (20). In the book F. Scott Fitzgerald often uses the word white when describing Daisy on many separate ocassions, saying things like, “the sidewalk was white with moonlight… Gatsby’s heart beat faster and faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own.” Or “she and Jordan spend their “beautiful white childhood together” in Louisville” this meaning that they grew up her whole entire childhood in innocence, and her whole life she is enclosed by the beauty of white. In the book, the white, or Daisy’s innocence is ruined by red, or anger, also known as Tom Buchannan. Tom Buchannan, often described as the “hulking” man, is constantly throughout the story, cruel, and violent towards Daisy and many other characters. In the book F. Scott Fitzgerald described Tom and Daisy’s house as a “red and white Georgian Colonial mansion.” The inside of the house was white, except for the red carpet that was in the living room. The book also states that the place he has his affairs at with Myrtle is white too, and the towels in their bathroom were white too until Tom broke Myrtle’s nose and Myrtle had to clean up her red blood with those towels. White is also used as a symbol of innocence in Daisy’s daughter. Her daughter is described in the book by saying that she has very white skin and when introduced she was wearing a white dress. She is too young to understand the problems in her parents relationship, and Daisy that is why Daisy said she hopes she becomes a “beautiful little fool” not knowing anything, or meaning innocent.The color white can also symbolize perfection. Daisy is always wearing white, which could be why she was always seen as perfection through Gatsby’s point of view. Myrtle thinks that the perfect life, or white life, is living like Daisy, or being wealthy. Myrtle is married to Wilson who is not too well off and she feels as though she belongs with the upper class. For some reason she believes she deserves a life of perfection that only wealth could bring her. She experiences some of this through her affair with Tom, but she can truly never experience this white perfection. This feeling is also evident through the clothes she wears. When Mrytle is first mentioned in the book, she is in the garage wearing a blue dress. After Tom comes to later pick her up, and she gets on the train, she is wearing a very light tan outfit, showing how she is getting closer to white. Later, at the small get together at Tom and Myrtle’s place, she comes closest to the color white with a, as Fitzgerald describes it, “a creme-colored chiffon”. This was placed in there to show that she is close to the good life or white life with Tom, but will never be completely white because she can never be in that world. The only white she experiences is the wealth that Tom has. Both of them had their affairs in a “white cake of apartment houses”, and of course the apartment house was bought with Tom’s money. Also in the book, when they first met, Tom was wearing a white shirt. Mrytle assumed that by being with Tom she would be able to easily experience and even live in this white society Tom thrived in.There are many interpretations of the color white, as mentioned earlier, such as perfection and innocence, but another is honesty. In the book, one could easily assume that Nick is the most honest person, and is often in the book wearing white, for example when he went to Gatsby’s party for the first time. This was the first time Nick was invited to one of his parties and Nick wanted to make the best impression he could for Gatsby the strangers attending. Gatsby is also dressed in white when he unites with Daisy. “and Gatsby, in a white flannel suit, silver shirt, and gold-colored tie, hurried in” (84). Meeting Daisy for the first time in so long was important to Gatsby, and Fitzgerald wanted to make Gatsby wear this outfit to appear perfect, innocent, and honest to impress. Jordan Baker also correctly shows white’s symbolic implication. Fitzgerald first shows Jordan for the first time in a white dress sitting on a couch. Nick was so enthralled by her appearance he said, “I was almost surprised into murmuring an apology for having disturbed her by coming in” (8). Fitzgerald attempts to describe her in a perfect fashion in this scene which is the reason for Nick’s comment. Throughout the story Fitzgerald portrays Nick as a person that often judges other people, and by showing his instant praise towards Jordan he certainly proves that she could be an honest and innocent person, which is why Fitzgerald has her wearing white in this scene, even though the reader can later find out that that is not exactly the truth.