Green Light Essay

The Green Light In The Great Gatsby

The Green Light in The Great Gatsby

The flashing light at the end of the dock across the water is first symbolically associated with Daisy. However, throughout the novel it gains new aspects and connotations, covering a full circle at the end of the novel. Throughout the novel the green light symbolizes various elements: Daisy's love, money, renewal, death, and American Dream.

The green light is introduced in chapter one for the first time:

He stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way... a single green light,

minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock.

The position of this green light reminds the reader of East Egg where Daisy Buchanan lives. Therefore, the first symbolic association is established between the green light and Daisy in the first chapter and the followings.

In chapter four the color green is associated with money and material comfort. The green leather conservatory of Gatsby's cream-colored car attracts the reader's attention. The real purpose behind Gatsby's lavish parties and his choice of habitat across the bay, just opposite the Buchanan's, is revealed to be a lure for Daisy so that she would drop by to his place one day. Thus the green light symbolizes Gatsby's obsession with Daisy's love and wealth.

Fitzgerald illuminates another angle of the green light in chapter five. The green house shipped to Nick's house meant for beautifying his house for the sake of Daisy's rendezvous with Gatsby connotes growth and renewal. In this way Gatsby celebrates Daisy's girlhood love towards himself.

In this chapter Gatsby's reference to the symbolic green light both heightens and changes its direction. Suddenly the visible angles of the symbol lose color, enabling the reader to eye the invisible perspectives towards the end of the novel.

Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now

vanished for ever. Now it was again a green light on a deck. His count of enchanted

objects had diminished by one.

There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of

his dreams- not through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion.

Gatsby's conscious admission reveals an important fact to the reader that maybe Daisy has been only a conscious symbolic means for Gatsby's subconscious pursuit of a dream that will be revealed to be the American...

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The green light at the end of Daisy’s dock is a significant symbol within the book. To Gatsby, the green light represents his dream, which is Daisy. To attain her would be completing Gatsby’s American Dream. The first time the green light is seen in the novel is also the first time Nick sees Gatsby. Fitzgerald writes, “…he stretched out his arms toward 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 distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away…” The green light is described as ‘minute and far away’ which makes it appear impossible to reach. This will prove to be true for Gatsby. The green light also represents society’s desire and the seeming impossibility of achieving the materialistic American Dream.   

Further into the novel, it is revealed that Gatsby desire for Daisy is also his desire for the past. Five years ago, when Gatsby first meets Daisy and they fall in love, Daisy was the representation of status and wealth.
She was desired all the young men and for Gatsby to attain meant that he was the most worthy. In Norman Holmes Pearson's critical essay Reading a Novel--The Great Gatsby he describes what Daisy means to Gatsby, "She seemed to be the representation of what he yearned for: the platonic essence, the noumenal as he saw it through the phenomenal metaphor. She shone before him like silver, and he rode toward her as a knight rides toward his lady. And like America itself, with its Franklininan image of a society in whic there were no absolute barriers and a man could become what he wished to become, Daisy gave him the green light to move agead. Only it took money to buy the car to join the traffic." Here, Pearson likens Daisy to a tropy as "a knight rides toward his lady. She is meant to be the token of his success. He reinforces the idea that green light represents Daisy which is his dream. He uses the metaphor of traffic lights, where if he wishes to drive toward the green light, first Gatsby will need the money to buy a car. Which is ultimately what he does. He amasses this wealth to use in his pursual of Daisy.
However now when he desires Daisy, he also desires the past that he shared with Daisy. At the end of the novel Nick concludes the book with these words, “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 then one fine morning—  So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” This describes Gatsby’s inability to move on from the past. Everything he does in the novel is to try and recreate the past. In this metaphor, Gatsby tries to goes against the currents—or time—to reach the green light or his dream. And as in the quote, the green light which represents his dream, ‘recedes’ like waves year by year.

 

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