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Green in The Great Gatsby
Transcript of Green in The Great Gatsby
By Pele Solell, Mashaba Rashid, and Rebekah Kang
The Great Gatsby
- from Middle English
; akin to growing
1. having the color of growing grass, a combination of blue and yellow
2. pale or sickly in appearance
3. not fully qualified for or experienced in a particular function ("Green").
color of balance, harmony, growth, rejuvenation, and renewal/rebirth
a combination of the mental clarity and optimism of yellow and the insight of blue, inspiring hope and generosity of spirit not found in other colors
it gives us the ability to love and nurture ourselves and others
associated with generosity, but also desire for recognition
relates to stability and endurance, giving persistence
color of prosperity and abundance, of finance and materiel wealth ("Color ).
The Great Gatsby
, Fitzgerald's prevalent use of green, symbolized by both the green light that represents Gatsby's desires and the association of materialism, illuminates that the ‘American Dream’ is, in fact, an unattainable false hope which Gatsby, like many others, so beautifully yet naively believes in.
“Involuntarily I glanced seaward—and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock” (Fitzgerald 21).
“It was a rich cream color, bright with nickel... Sitting down
behind many layers of glass in a sort of green leather conservatory,
we started to town” (Fitzgerald 64).
“[Gatsby] brought more and the soft rich heap mounted higher--shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange” (Fitzgerald 92).
“‘If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay...You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock’” (Fitzgerald 92).
"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, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one” (Fitzgerald 100).
“It was James Gatz who had been loafing along the beach that afternoon in a torn green jersey and a pair of canvas pants, but it was already Jay Gatsby who borrowed a rowboat, pulled out to the Tuolomee, and informed Cody that a wind might catch him and break him up in half an hour” (Fitzgerald 105).
“‘If you want to kiss me any time during the evening, Nick, just let me know and I’ll be glad to arrange it for you. Just mention my name. Or present a green card. I’m giving out green——’” (Fitzgerald 112).
“I went with them out to the veranda. On the green Sound, stagnant in the heat, one small sail crawled slowly toward the fresher sea. Gatsby’s eyes followed it momentarily; he raised his hand and pointed across the bay. ‘I’m right across from you’” (Fitzgerald 125).
“With an effort Wilson left the shade and support
of the doorway and, breathing hard, unscrewed the cap of the tank. In the sunlight his face was green” (Fitzgerald 131).
“The death car...didn't stop; it came out of the gathering darkness...and then disappeared around the next bend. Michaelis wasn't even sure of its color--he told the first policeman that it was light green” (Fitzgerald 147).
“It was Jordan Baker... Usually her voice came over the wire as something fresh and cool as if a divot from a green golf links had come sailing in at the office window but this morning it seemed harsh and dry” (Fitzgerald 165).
The green light represents Gatsby’s longing desires to finally be reunited with Daisy. It symbolizes Gatsby’s hope which is forever present throughout the novel. Despite the fact that Daisy is married and has a life of her own, Gatsby still believes that he will one day be able to live a life with her and even after it becomes nearly impossible, he still has that hope and similarly that green light is always present and glowing. Fitzgerald illuminates Gatsby’s feelings and thoughts after he finally meets Daisy, and how the light has become irrelevant since he now has her. But it will keep glowing because his hopes of having Daisy only love him are still aflame. His desires of reliving the past are yet to be demolished and his hope is as bright as ever just like the green light. Green often symbolizes hope,desire and ambition which is clearly illuminated in this passage, especially through Gatsby. Through this excerpt,Fitzgerald portrays the true desires of the American people and the ideal lifestyle which everyone strived for but was impossible to achieve. Yet, just like Gatsby, the refused to give up and spent their entire life trying to achieve their goal (“Color”).
Green symbolizes Gatsby's desire for wealth and riches, and this passion leads him to establish a successful and extravagant life. Green represents vitality, and the green jersey reveals the glamor of Gatsby’s new and upcoming life. It provides a burst of color in this scene, which is otherwise colorless, symbolizing the snippet of hope that Gatsby beholds, which eventually leads to his fall. The green jersey shows Gatsby’s transformation from a common farm boy to a lavish upper class socialite. Fitzgerald uses the color symbolism to imply that despite one's determination they will never reach the American Dream ("Color").
Due to Tom’s multiple affairs, Daisy becomes lonely and angry with her life. She begins to long for attention and love, which she does not receive from Tom. This causes her to start her affair with Gatsby even though she does love him; her primary goal is to get back at Tom. This quote illuminates something very similar; when she is at Gatsby’s party and sees that Tom is preoccupied, she attempts to get attention from Nick and keep herself busy. She also has a growing love for money and in this quote she explains to Nick that if he wants a kiss all he has to do is give her a green card, which is implied to be money. In other words, Daisy is willing to provide love in exchange for money. Her love of an extravagant and wealthy lifestyle is prevalent when she chooses to stay with Tom, old money, instead of Gatsby who represents new money. This is associated with the great American Dream; ideally people desired security and wealth, and they would stop at nothing to obtain it, similar to how Daisy sacrifices her love for wealth and status. Green is synonymous to wealth and riches, and it is prevalent throughout this novel (“Color”).
Readers are first introduced to Jay Gatsby by his outstretched arms, reaching for a seemingly unattainable green light. Fitzgerald uses the green light to symbolize Gatsby’s ultimate aspiration, which is to attain Daisy. Gatsby’s romantic hopefulness causes him to apotheosize Daisy in his mind, elevating all that she stands for into his American Dream. However, this dream is twisted into a desire for wealth by any means, which Gatsby sees as a way to connect with Daisy. Green is often used to represent a “sanctuary” from the “stresses of modern living,” restoring people back to sense of well-being (“Color”). To Gatsby, Daisy is his place of sanctuary; his all-consuming obsession with her provides him with a purpose in life.
Gatsby’s car is a symbol of wealth and status, and a physical representation of the American Dream. The extravagance of the car reflects Gatsby’s own perspective on life; because he does not attempt to connect to people emotionally, he reflects himself through his possessions. Rather than the traditional black or red block color, Gatsby’s car is painted unique colors, and demonstrates the enormity of his ego. The “rich cream color” of the car is used to display Gatsby’s achievement of a wealthy status, while the “green leather conservatory” symbolizes his internal yearning for Daisy (Fitzgerald 64). Ironically, Gatsby’s car plays an instrumental role in his death when it hits Myrtle. Although Daisy is responsible for Myrtle’s death, Gatsby takes responsibility, and Tom takes advantage of this to use George Wilson to solve the problematic role Gatsby plays in his and Daisy’s life. Despite Gatsby’s optimism and
perseverance, his dream in
attaining Daisy ends in tragedy.
Fitzgerald attributes the
destruction of the American
Dream to wealth and the lack of
humanity; Gatsby’s dream was
rooted in materialism and
consequently failed ("Color").
The Great Gatsby,
Gatsby’s envy and dislike for Tom is clearly portrayed. Gatsby constantly tries to outdo Tom and impress Daisy, because at the end, all that matters to him is Daisy. Everything that Gatsby has ever done after he returns from the war has been for Daisy. Gatsby explains to Tom that he lives across from him, and that is definitely not a coincidence. Gatsby bought his house directly across from the Buchanans so that his chances of reuniting with Daisy would increase, and he also throws his great parties in hopes that Daisy would attend one. His love for Daisy becomes obsessive and throughout this entire scene green symbolizes Gatsby’s everlasting hope to be with Daisy, to hear her say that she loves him and only him. Fitzgerald uses this to employ the longing for the ideal “American Dream” and the fact that no matter what someone does, they will never be able to attain this idealistic theory (“Color”).
Once Gatsby brings Daisy into his house, with Nick in tow, he flaunts his possessions in order to impress Daisy. Daisy comes from old money, and having grown up in this social class, she instinctively gravitates toward prestige and fortune. Despite her superficial elements, Gatsby remains enamored with Daisy, and consequently makes corrupt deals to accumulate his wealth. James Gatz transforms himself into Jay Gatsby, who is measured by his wealth and less by his personal success in order to obtain his American Dream, which ultimately leads to his death. Despite his material wealth, Daisy never considers choosing Gatsby over Tom, and she finally rejects Gatsby once his disreputable past is revealed. Fitzgerald uses the brightly colored, extravagant shirts to represent the futility of the American Dream; the green shirt, which displays Gatsby’s wealth, and Daisy’s final rejections shows that even Gatsby’s optimism and efforts to attain his happiness failed ("Color").
For five years, Gatsby recreates himself in hopes of seeing Daisy again. Green is a “possessive and materialistic” color, and it represents the need to own things, which is portrayed in Gatsby’s relentless pursuit for Daisy ("Color"). However, once Daisy begins to take an interest in Gatsby, the green light is obscured by a fog. It is a foreshadowing of events conspiring to end the relationship between Daisy and Gatsby, as well as Gatsby’s dream. The success of these events not only ends their capricious affair, but also ultimately ruins Gatsby. In the end, the wealth Gatsby accumulated for Daisy does not matter; what Gatsby saw as love was only a short fling for Daisy, and she cruelly abandons him at the first sign of adversity. Fitzgerald uses the concealment of the green light to show the futility of a corrupted American Dream.
“Color Green.” Empower yourself with psychology.Empower-
yourself-with-psychology.com. kkkkkkk2014. Web. 9 Apr. 2015. <http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com>.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Charles Scribner’s
Sons, 1925. Print.
“Green.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. 2014.
Web. 9 Apr. 2014. <http://www.merriam-webster.com>.
When George Wilson, under the watchful eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, discovers that Myrtle has been cheating, he becomes frantic, planning to leave for the West. George, like Gatsby, longs to become an affluent, prosperous man who can support his wife. This destruction of marriage parallels the Buchanan’s, whose relationship started on the basis that Tom was prosperous and could provide for Daisy. George desires that materialistic wealth that people like Tom have. Fitzgerald kills both Wilson and Gatsby in the end of the story, however, representing that the American dream to be prosperous and thriving is unattainable; although Wilson and Gatsby reach for that wealth and materialism, their downfall illustrates the impossibility of such a dream. Green is often synonymous with money and the need to be possessive and materialistic, qualities which Fitzgerald gives to both Wilson and Gatsby. Green also relates to persistence, an ever-present hope which clouds the reality within an unattainable dream ("Color").
In reality, Michaelis misinterpreted the color of the car that killed Myrtle Wilson; Daisy was driving Gatsby’s car, which was yellow, not light green. By adding this confusion of colors, Fitzgerald emphasizes the initial thought that occurs to Tom, Nick, and Jordan: that Gatsby was driving the car. Gatsby is associated with the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock, which represents his unattainable dream. By purposefully adding the confusion of the car’s color, Fitzgerald heightens the notion that Gatsby’s dream is already crumbling, as Tom assumes he was the one to kill his mistress. In addition, Tom’s blue car mixed with Gatsby’s yellow car make the light green car Michaelis mentions, adding a suspicion that both parties are responsible for Myrtle’s death. She was Tom’s mistress, but ran towards the car that Daisy and Gatsby, whom she confused as Tom, were in. The confused relationships are just as tainted as Myrtle’s death, suggesting the decline of purity along with the unattainable American dream, which Myrtle so desperately wanted, but now can never achieve. Green in this instance represents both the materialism and selfishness that come with the desire of being prosperous; Myrtle’s death solidify Fitzgerald's affirmation that the American dream is simply unattainable, and brings out the corruption of individuals as they reach for the impossible ("Color").
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
"I remember the fur coats of the girls returning from Miss This-or-that’s and the chatter of frozen breath and the hands waving overhead as we caught sight of old acquaintances, and the matching of invitations...and the long green tickets clasped tight in our gloved hands" (Fitzgerald 176).
Nick is discussing his experience of coming back to his home in the Midwest from prep school in the East. Fitzgerald wants to introduce what Nick once knew, and contrast it to what he found when he went East. Nick is amazed at the blatant corruption, materialism, and cynicism of the East, particularly at Gatsby’s lavish parties and the Buchanan’s selfishness. They exemplify this stereotype when, at the end of the novel, they simply move to a new house far away rather than condescend to attend Gatsby’s funeral. Just as Gatsby desires his dream and follows his everlasting optimism, the ever present materialism of the East represents the money which the color green is so often associated with. Green relates to the need to belong, a desire which comes with possessiveness and materialism ("Color").
“And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes--a fresh, green breast of the new world” (Fitzgerald 180).
Nick compares the green light to how America must have looked to the early settlers of the new world, who were approaching the brink of discovery toward their own dream. Comparingly, Gatsby outstretches his arms to grasp at that green light and catch his dreams. Both the settlers and Gatsby encountered many struggles, but both kept trying with renewed hope each time. Gatsby has the optimism to dream of creating a radically different future for himself, but his dream ends in failure; he is involved in corrupt methods to gain money, and he can never gain acceptance into the American aristocracy. Thus his identity as “Jay Gatsby” is an act. Fitzgerald’s novel questions the idea of an America in which all things are possible if one simply tries hard enough. Americans tried to disown the past and separate themselves from their European roots to gain access to the potential of individual and free advancement, but like Gatsby, they failed. This failure suggests that there is an impossible, uncrossable line between the past and future, separating Gatsby from Daisy, which he cannot cross. The color green relates to stability and endurance, giving persistence and the strength to cope with adversity. Gatsby embodies this persona in his determination to achieve his dreams ("Color").
“And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night” (Fitzgerald 180).
Green is Gatsby’s enchanted hope for an impossible dream, everlasting optimism. Hope is the beautiful thing that Gatsby embodies and believes in: hope for the future, for Daisy. Fitzgerald continues his pattern of the green light as Gatsby’s lost, yet ever present hope and dream to be with Daisy. Up until his last few sentences of the novel, Fitzgerald utilizes the green light to chronicle Gatsby’s transformations throughout his life: from a poor, lonely boy named James Gatz in North Dakota, to a driven, money-focused young Jay Gatsby, and finally, a melancholy yet hopeful Gatsby who lives his lavish life to attract his dream, Daisy. The color relates to its actual meaning quite similarly, for Gatsby goes through “growth and vitality, renewal and restoration, self-reliance,” and a desire to join a higher social group, a need to belong ("Color").
Jordan is very materialistic and calls up Nick, wanting to go to town that day. After experiencing Gatsby’s extravagant parties, she wants to continue the ideal of living large. However, when Nick rejects her offer, she becomes snobby and annoyed. Fitzgerald created many characters who are focused on materialism, such as the Buchanans, who desire to display their luxuriance as upper-class as often as they can. Jordan, as a golfer, often appears smooth and unflawed, like the green of the grass at a golf course, yet Nick can see past that facade into her self-doubt and fear of not being seen as wealthy. Green is associated with money and possessions, and the correctness of the upper-class as they focus on that materialism instead of what is truly important, such as family ("Color").
“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning——So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” (Fitzgerald 180)
The concluding words return to the theme of the significance of the past to dreams of the future, represented by the green light. Fitzgerald focuses on the struggle of human beings to achieve their goals by both transcending and re-creating the past. Yet humans prove themselves unable to move beyond the past: the current draws them backward as they row forward toward the green light. This past functions as the source of their ideas about the future, epitomized by Gatsby’s desire to have Daisy once again, and they cannot escape it as they continue to struggle to transform their dreams into reality. While he never loses his optimism, he extends all of his energy in pursuit of a goal that moves ever farther away. This characterizes both Gatsby’s struggle and the American dream. Green is “the anticipation of things to come,” a rejuvenated approach to life ("Color"). Green represents rebirth and spring, which Gatsby personifies in his renewal of depleted energies; although others would have given up hope, he beats back the current and continues, the most beautiful thing about him. In the last paragraph of the novel, as in the beginning, the green light appears, bringing the symbolism full circle. Nick says Gatsby “believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us” (180). With the events of the novel behind him, Nick reiterates the fact that the light Gatsby counted on and followed was, as Gatsby saw once he was reunited with Daisy, no more than a green light, no more than an unattainable, false hope. Gatsby invests a great deal of hope and love in the throughout the novel, yet at the end, the green light is simply his failed dream. The dream was as magical and powerful as Gatsby’s apple-green shirts, an unrealistic standard which could never hold Daisy’s interest long enough to make her stay.