The Novel “The Great Gatsby” by Fitzgerald
Many great authors have an admirable talent for using literary devices in ways that make their literary works get implicit meanings. Therefore, only with careful reading, the reader manages to recognize metaphors, allusions, comparisons, and symbolism. The latter, for example, is often especially difficult to identify. In The Great Gatsby, Francis Scott Fitzgerald uses symbolism to convey extra emotions, add different meanings, and allow for various interpretations.
Analysis of Symbols in the Novel
The Green Light
The first symbol to be analyzed is the green light. One of its meanings is the representation of Gatsby’s aspirations for the future with Daisy. When the readers first meet Gatsby, Nick Carraway mentions that “he stretched his arms toward the dark water in a curious way” (Fitzgerald 24). It is possible to interpret this line by stating that, for Gatsby, the green light is associated with Daisy, who is close but far simultaneously.
The second meaning of this symbol is related to the country as a whole. The green light is a symbolization of the American dream. Thus, Mr. Carroway says that it is probably how the early settlers must have seen America – “a fresh, green breast of the new world” (Fitzgerald 192). Therefore, Fitzgerald makes sure that all readers who have tried to reach American Dream can relate to the main characters’ feelings.
Finally, the third interpretation of the green light is a great distance between Gatsby and Daisy. Gatsby notices that, while he is far away from her, the light is very close to Daisy, “as close as a star to the moon” (Fitzgerald 100). The green light reminds Gatsby that he will probably never be with the love of his life again. Consequently, this symbolic light represents the Gatsby’s hopes for the future and the impossibility of reaching them, as well as the aspirations of Americans as a nation.
Gatsby’s mansion is another very significant symbol in this novel. Fitzgerald needs it to better portray Gatsby as the mystic character who has much money but is still lonely. Therefore, although Gatsby is very rich, he is “content to be alone,” and, even during his parties, prefers “standing alone on the marble steps” (Fitzgerald 24, 55). Thus, the readers can see that only Daisy can make Gatsby happy, while money and glory actually do not mean much for him.
Further, the mansion also emphasizes people’s attitudes towards each other and wealth. While everyone knows and visits Gatsby’s mansion, almost nobody is acquainted with the owner; society does not care about him as a person, only wanting to enjoy his gifts and generosity (Fitzgerald 55). Consequently, Fitzgerald emphasizes that money attracts people, and being rich may mean that one is surrounded by persons who are actually interested in one’s fortune.
The third meaning of the mansion as a symbol is Gatsby’s efforts to earn Daisy’s love. It is noticeable that everything inside the mansion is bought or created specifically for her. Even when Daisy visits Gatsby, he begins to show her his shirts, throwing them around, desperately and childishly wanting to buy her love (Fitzgerald 99). Having this enormous mansion is his attempt to prove to Daisy that he is not worthy of her. To summarize, the purpose of Gatsby’s mansion as a symbol is to allows readers to understand his inner feelings, also demonstrating society’s greed.
It is essential to interpret the symbolic meaning of the main female character and her name. First of all, a daisy is a flower that has white petals – a color with specific meaning (Haziri 14). This is how everyone, including Gatsby, Nick, and Daisy’s husband, sees her as a woman – she appears to be a pure and naive creature (Fitzgerald 71). This is because white is believed to be a color that represents innocence and purity.
At the same time, the name Daisy emphasizes another trait of this female character. This trait is hidden from everyone and reveals at the end of the novel. Nick and the readers finally and suddenly realize that Daisy is only interested in money, not caring about Gatsby and his death (Fitzgerald 175). The symbolism is in yellow color of a daisy’s center – it represents corruption and greed, the inner nature of Daisy.
Finally, Daisy herself is a symbol of how people can sometimes waste their love or other feelings. Gatsby’s strong feelings towards her do not allow him to notice other women, and he continues to idealize her. For instance, “she blossomed for him like a flower,” everything about her was a perfection for Gatsby, and even the very idea of him “had gone into loving Daisy” (Fitzgerald 118, 119). Through the symbolism of Daisy, the author wanted to emphasize that it is challenging for people to choose their love correctly.
To draw a conclusion, one may say that the interpretation of symbols in The Great Gatsby is essential to understanding the novel. Thus, the symbolic meanings of the green light are Gatsby’s aspirations for the future, distance between him and Daisy, and the American dream. His enormous mansion is a symbol of people’s greediness, as well as Gatsby’s loneliness and attempts to buy Daisy’s love. Finally, Daisy herself is a symbol of both purity and carelessness, and Gatsby sees her as a symbol of love.
Fitzgerald, Francis Scott. The Great Gatsby. Laxmi Publisher, 1925.
Haziri, Lulzim. “Colors and Symbolism in “The Great Gatsby” by Francis Scott Fitzgerald.” Journal of World Englishes and Educational Practices, vol. 2, no. 1, 2020, pp. 13-16.