The Great Gatsby Color Symbolism

The novel ‘the great gatsby’ takes the tragic love story between the poor young gatsby and the upper-class girl Daisy as the clue, truly records the social style and life aspects of the ‘jazz age’, the hero gatsby’s life has witnessed the realization and disillusionment of the American dream. Symbolism is widely used in his works to express his profound thoughts and themes, accurately depict the degeneration of human morality under the trend of materialism in the 1920s, profoundly clarify the hypocrisy and doomed disillusionment of the American dream in the ‘roaring jazz age’, and show the author’s mature artistic creation skills.

From the color of ‘the great gatsby’, follow the author’s writing, through the author’s depiction of environment and feel the jazz age to different characters of shape human changes in temperature, material, moral and spiritual emptiness, analysis about the symbolism of the color to highlight and deepen the theme plays the role of, analysis of the necessity of the ‘American dream’ shattered, and this is a dull pain and tragedy of The Times.

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, 1896-1940), an outstanding novelist, accurately grasp the pulse of The Times, he is called ‘the chronicle writer’ in the United States in the 1920 s, his work is a model of American jazz age, he was regarded as the jazz age ‘poet laureate’, is one of the greatest American writers in the 20th century. Fitzgerald is one of the representative writers of the ‘lost generation’ in the United States. He has completed four novels including paradise on earth, beauty and destruction, the great gatsby, tender night, and the unfinished the last tycoon. Fitzgerald also wrote a lot of short stories about youth and hope, times and confusion. His works have been adapted into films for many times. The great gatsby is Fitzgerald’s most famous work, which has been adapted into many films in the past 100 years.

The great gatsby is Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel about the lives of characters in the fictional town of west egg on bustling long island in the summer of 1922. The story revolves around the mysterious young millionaire jay gatsby and his early understanding of the beautiful upper class miss Daisy buchanan unrealistic infatuation. The great gatsby explores the themes of decadence, idealism, unwillingness to change, social unrest and indulgence, and vividly depicts an alarming American dream and a portrait of the ‘roaring age of jazz’. Fitzgerald was inspired by his many trips to long island’s north shore parties, and in 1923 he began planning the novel to create, in his words, ‘something new — something extraordinary, something beautiful, something simple and polished.’

Symbol is to represent an abstract thing with a specific thing, such as idea, image, belief, behavior or material entity. The former is the carrier of the latter’s meaning, the presentation of the latter’s spirit, and the former is the symbol of the latter. Symbolism is a literary and artistic movement originated in France in the late 19th century. Russia and Belgium are the followers of this movement. Symbolism literature began with the flower of evil by French poet Charles baudelaire in 1857. Edgar Allan POE’s works have a profound influence on the literary world and are the source of many rhetorical devices and images. Baudelaire was deeply influenced and translated them into French. The decades after the first world war were a period of literary popularity known as symbolism.

Symbolism ran through the background, characters, plot and language of some works at that time. It appears in lyric poems (e.g., Yeats’ sailing to Byzantium, hardy’s grey tone), as well as in longer poems (e.g., Eliot’s the waste land), and this technique is widely used in novels (e.g., Joyce’s Ulysses, Faulkner’s uproar and anger. Symbolism is quite common in novels, because the subtle psychology of characters is often difficult to grasp and can only be understood inexpressible.

Especially when the novel seemingly conveys a certain philosophy, the psychological activities and even behaviors of characters are more obscure in the eyes of readers, so the novel chooses symbolism. Bergson once explained the need for symbolism by saying, ‘when we study the purely emotional state of mind… We know by nature that we can hardly count them except by some symbolic representation ‘. Symbolist poet t.s. Eliot also said that thoughts and emotions should be expressed through the symbolic implication of ‘objective counterparts’.

Fitzgerald’s ‘the great gatsby’, although it is a description of the jazz era of the American upper class people indulging in excess of money, partying night and night, luxury and waste, but let the reader feel intriguing artistic taste. The author USES a large number of delicate artistic techniques to manage the story, among which the skillful use of symbolism is most prominent in color symbol. Color words can be found in many places in the book, which effectively conveys the thoughts of different characters in different times and occasions, and at the same time arouses the resonance of readers.

The use of color words in the story is very ironic. While conveying the surface meaning, it reveals the hidden essence and effectively deepens the theme. The symbolism in Fitzgerald’s works is not the mysterious hints or obscure enigmas commonly used by symbolism, but is full of realism style, which expresses the abstract meaning of specific things. This symbolic technique runs through the novel and plays a role in clarifying and sublimating the theme, and makes some seemingly ordinary details interesting and fascinating.

Green means rich, is the youth and hope, is joy and freedom. The word ‘green’ runs through the whole story, and is closely related to gatsby’s short life. It symbolizes gatsby’s vigorous pursuit of dreams in his life, until the dream is finally disillusioned, and the protagonist gatsby himself dies early. Gatsby’s spiritual dream is incompatible with the mainstream society of material desire, and the disillusionment of his dream is inevitable.

The green of the sweatshirt reflects gatsby’s simplicity, youth and vitality. He is full of expectation and confidence for the future. And terminal and night immortal green is a symbol of the pursuit of his life will never can realize the dream, even if he has endless wealth, has the beauty of a woman girl Daisy has always out of reach, is gatsby’s wishful thinking, is an unrealistic fantasy dream, until it pays for the dream life, and even funerals.

Green symbolizes the yearning for dreams and happiness. In the novel, there are three green lights at the wharf that never go out at night. For the first time, at the end of the first chapter of the novel, I decide to greet him. Miss baker mentioned him at dinner, and that was an introduction. I did not, however, call to him, for he made a sudden movement, implying that he was content to be alone — his arms extended out into the dark water, and he looked so strange that I could swear he was trembling, even though I was far from him

I was looking out to sea, too — all but a green light, tiny and distant, perhaps the end of a pier. When I looked back at gatsby, he had disappeared, and I was alone again in the restless darkness. This is gatsby himself for the first time in the book, the author through the observation of ‘I’ (Nick) depicts the night alone in the darkness of gatsby, even at a distance, I can still clearly see that gatsby body shaking, his hands reach out to the sea, into the appearance of such odd and the curiosity of the ‘I’, also let I don’t have the heart to disturb, gatsby in the heart of the ups and downs, emotional suppression, and the direction is only a little green light, the chirp of midsummer night, my heart is not calm, Gatsby’s appearance touched me. Maybe he’s searching, he’s demanding, he’s chasing.

The green light is last seen at the end of the novel. Gatsby was gone, and no one would reach out his trembling hands towards the dark sea and stare at the green light on the wharf which never went out at night, which might be of no importance. At this time, through Nick’s narration, the author once again highlighted the deep image of ‘green’ throughout the whole text, realizing the integrity of the novel and deepening the theme. ‘I remembered gatsby’s surprise when he first recognized the green light at the end of Daisy’s pier. He had come a long way to the blue lawn, and his dream seemed so close that he could hardly hold it. He did not know that he had left the dream behind him, but that he had left it somewhere beyond the city, in the midst of a great blur, where, under the darkness, the dark fields of the republic rose and fell.

The green light is gatsby’s fantasy of a better world in his mind and the epitome of gatsby’s dream, instead of the cheap and empty feelings brought by money. The dream and love symbolized by green light degenerate in reality, and the gap between the dream and reality brings a sense of loss and bewilderment to gatsby in the trance. The gap between the beautiful ideal and the reality reveals the cruel nature of the American dream and lays the foundation for the extinction of gatsby’s love, dream and even his life.

Yellow and gold are elegant colors, especially dazzling, eye-catching, on the one hand is a symbol of wealth, on the other hand is the money supremacy thought under the influence of human nature, the symbol of social decay. Both in reality and in his works, the great gatsby is located in the United States where modernization was carried out in the 1920s. Dust was flying in many places, and people’s hearts were numb. In the work, gatsby firmly believes that money can capture Daisy’s heart. He wore a light yellow suit and lied to Nick about his family history. They held grand parties at home and entertained the rich classes of their neighbors with great hospitality. They indulged themselves in partying night and night, as if gatsby had inexhaustible wealth. The decadent music played by orchestras was yellow cocktail music. Yellow contrasts with the mystery and desolation of the work. Nick and Tom came to the valley of ashes. ‘the only building we could see was a small yellow brick block on the edge of the wasteland’.

Sparsely populated, poorly run and dilapidated, the yellow brick house in a gray haze is a special feature, adding a sense of brokenness and sadness and rendering the tragic color of the novel. In the novel, yellow is also accompanied by death. After the death of mettel, the body is placed in the car shop. ‘in the car shop, there is only one yellow light hanging in the overhead wire cover and shaking’. Wilson, the husband of mettel, vaguely believes that the culprit is the rhubarb car, which also implies and indirectly leads to the tragic ending of gatsby. Wilson plotted revenge for his wife, gatsby insisted on waiting for Daisy’s call, and he relaxed in his swimming pool. ‘the driver asked him if he needed any help, but he shook his head, and after a moment disappeared among the yellowed trees’. This was the end of gatsby’s life and the final disillusionment of the dream he was striving for.


The great gatsby is a great work, vivid portrait of the United States is the jazz age, the reader feel the works of strong modern at the same time, also can strongly feel the author superb writing ability and writing skills, including the author for the use of color is impressive, characters, plot, etc. The author endows the novel with rich symbolic meanings of colors. In the novel, green is gatsby’s dream that he pursues all his life but never realizes. It is the difference between dream and reality.

Yellow and gold are symbols of luxury, luxury, vulgarity and decadence. White symbolizes the moral decay and spiritual emptiness in the age of jazz. These color symbols powerfully deepen the theme. Through the description of the environment by the author and the shaping of different characters, readers can feel the extravagance, warmth and warmth of human relations, moral decay and spiritual emptiness in the jazz era, and convey the inevitable disillusionment of the American dream in the jazz era, which is the hidden pain and tragedy of the era.