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Symbolism of Colors in the Great Gatsby

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on 6 March 2014

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Transcript of Symbolism of Colors in the Great Gatsby

Symbolism of Colors
The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald uses colors in The Great Gatsby to symbolize aspects of society by associating certain colors with specific characters through the use of imagery.



"The rain was still falling, but the darkness had parted in the west, and there was a pink and golden billow of foamy clouds above the sea." (60)
"Gatsby stood in the centre of the crimson carpet and gazed around with fascinated eyes." (73)
“They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose.” (16)
“She held my hand impersonally, as a promise that she’d take care of me in a minute, and gave ear to two girls in twin yellow dresses, who stopped at the foot of the steps.” (28)
“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.” (26)
“When he saw us a damp gleam of hope sprang into his light blue eyes.” (19)
“Daisy’s face, tipped sideways beneath a three-cornered lavender hat, looked out at me with a bright ecstatic smile." (54)
“With Jordan’s slender golden arm resting in mine, we descended the steps and sauntered about the garden.” (28)
“His bedroom was the simplest room of all — except where the dresser was garnished with a toilet set of pure dull gold.” (59)
“Occasionally a line of gray cars crawls along an invisible track, gives out a ghastly creak, and comes to rest, and immediately the ash-gray men swarm up with leaden spades…” Pg 16
“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eludes us then, but that no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . And one fine morning---” (180)
"He felt the hot, green leather of the seat" (77).


“Up-stairs, in the solemn echoing drive she let four taxicabs drive away before she selected a new one, lavender-colored with gray upholstery, and in this we slid out from the mass of the station into the glowing sunshine.” (18)
Pink and red are mainly included by Scott F. Fitzgerald when Gatsby and Daisy are around each other. The first quote is when Gatsby and Daisy are at Gatsby's house following tea at Nick's. The second quote is when Gatsby and Nick are at Daisy's house for lunch, and they walk into the room where Daisy and Jordan are. Gatsby staring at the red carpet symbolizes his basically staring at his love. Pink and red are both used to symbolize passion and love between characters, but in particular, Gatsby and Daisy.
Yellow is used in the novel to symbolize false wealth. The "enormous yellow spectacles" of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg described in the first quote look over the "valley of ashes", a wasteland in between New York and West Egg. The two girls in the yellow dresses described in the second quote are present during Gatsby's lavish party, but are not depicted as as captivating as Jordan, who is described as golden.
True wealth and grandeur are portrayed by the color gold. The first quote takes place in Gatsby's lavish party, during which everything was associated with Gatsby's obvious wealth. The second quote describes a room in Gatsby's house. In this scene, Daisy is delighted by the sight of the gold hairbrush, further indicative of her attraction to Gatsby due in part to the opulence of his home. It is also important to note that it is dull gold, which further shows how Gatsby is not all that wealthy, but his wealth is lacking, due in part to the fact that no one knows how he has become so rich.
What do colors represent in The Great Gatsby?
While white usually symbolizes, innocence and purity, Fitzgerald uses it to highlight the corruption in the pure world. In the first quote, the palaces of the East Egg are far from pure, as both Daisy and Tom who have a home there are not loyal in their marriage. In the second quote, while the kiss itself seems to be pure and innocent, the nature of it is not, as it is a "moving-picture director and his Star" that are having an affair. The way it is used to glamorously portray people and places thus implies that glamor and wealth are not pure or innocent in any way.
Gray is used in the novel to symbolize the dreary and bleak setting of the "valley of ashes", where Tom Buchanan's mistress lives. The gray place serves as a foil for Gatsby's opulent way of life.
As purple usually symbolizes royalty, this muted tone of purple symbolizes the less royal, the rich. Purple is usually associated with Daisy.
Myrtle is associated with both grey and lavender, to show how although she is from the Valley of Ashes, she is not content with her lifestyle and she wants to be royal, thus the purple. This also shows how she is striving to be like Daisy, aka. Tom's wife.
Blue is often used in the novel to describe a garden. Though it is very open to interpretation, the color blue is, in most cases, used to depict illusion versus reality. The 'faint gleam of hope' in the light blue eyes is used to hint at the fact that hope could be either all illusion, or very real.
“Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water…” (6)
“They were still under the white plum tree and their faces were touching except for a pale, thin ray of moonlight between. It occurred to me that he had been very slowly bending toward her all evening to attain this proximity, and even while I watched I saw him stoop one ultimate degree and kiss at her cheek.” (68)
Green symbolizes a variety of things, can you name a few?
1. If Gatsby is usually associated with blue, why did Tom have a blue car?
2. Why do you think F. Scott Fitzgerald used white to symbolize what it did?
3. What correlation does Daisy's name have to the symbols in the novel?
4. What do you think Gatsby's pink suit symbolizes?
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