Green Symbolism in The Great Gatsby: a Reflection of Desire and Deception

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About this sample


Words: 745 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 745|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024


F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby is a profound exploration of the American Dream and the inherent complexities of ambition and desire. One of the most compelling aspects of the novel is its use of symbolism, particularly the color green. Green emerges as a multifaceted symbol in the narrative, representing various themes such as hope, envy, and the elusive nature of the American Dream. This essay aims to delve into the layers of green symbolism in The Great Gatsby and analyze how Fitzgerald uses this color to enhance the novel's thematic depth and character development.

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The most iconic instance of green symbolism in The Great Gatsby is the green light situated at the end of Daisy Buchanan's dock. For Jay Gatsby, the green light is a beacon of hope and aspiration. It symbolizes his dreams of rekindling his romance with Daisy and achieving a future where they can be together. This is evident when Gatsby is first introduced, standing alone on the shore, reaching out towards the green light. Fitzgerald writes, "He stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and... I could have sworn he was trembling" (Fitzgerald, 1925, p. 21). The green light, thus, becomes a tangible representation of Gatsby's dreams and the broader American Dream, embodying the idea that one can achieve anything through determination and hard work. However, this symbol also underscores the futility of Gatsby's aspirations, as the green light remains perpetually out of reach, just as his dreams of a perfect future with Daisy remain unattainable.

Moreover, green in The Great Gatsby frequently represents envy and materialism, two forces that drive the characters and ultimately lead to their downfall. Tom Buchanan's world is steeped in material luxury, yet he is continually envious of Gatsby's newfound wealth and the attention Gatsby receives from Daisy. Tom's envy is not just personal but reflective of a broader societal anxiety about the shifting social order during the Jazz Age. This envy is mirrored in Gatsby's own obsession with material success as a means to win Daisy's affection. His extravagant parties, flashy car, and opulent mansion are all manifestations of his desire to be seen as worthy in Daisy's eyes. The color green, thus, also symbolizes the corrupting influence of wealth and the hollow pursuit of material success.

Furthermore, the green landscape that surrounds the characters represents the natural world and its contrast to the artificiality of their lives. The lush green lawns of West Egg and East Egg symbolize a world of possibility and growth, yet this natural beauty is often marred by the characters' moral decay. The Valley of Ashes, described as a "fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens" (Fitzgerald, 1925, p. 23), serves as a stark contrast to the verdant surroundings of the Eggs. It highlights the environmental and ethical degradation that accompanies the characters' relentless pursuit of wealth and status. In this context, green becomes a symbol of the lost potential for genuine growth and the inherent tension between nature and the artificial constructs of society.

Additionally, green is often associated with renewal and rebirth, themes that are subtly interwoven into the narrative. Gatsby's relentless pursuit of his dream is, in many ways, a quest for a new beginning. He wishes to recreate the past and start anew with Daisy, believing that he can erase the years and begin again. However, this desire for renewal is ultimately illusory, as the past cannot be undone, and the future remains uncertain. Nick Carraway's reflection at the novel's end, where he muses on the "fresh, green breast of the new world" (Fitzgerald, 1925, p. 180), encapsulates this theme. It evokes the initial promise of the American Dream, a dream that has since been corrupted by greed and disillusionment.


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In conclusion, the color green in The Great Gatsby serves as a rich and complex symbol that enhances the novel's exploration of themes such as hope, envy, materialism, and the American Dream. Through the green light, Fitzgerald encapsulates Gatsby's aspirations and the broader societal yearning for an idealized future. The pervasive presence of green underscores the characters' moral decay and the hollow pursuit of wealth, while also highlighting the tension between natural beauty and artificial constructs. Ultimately, green in The Great Gatsby reflects the multifaceted nature of human desire and the often-deceptive allure of the American Dream. Fitzgerald's masterful use of this symbol underscores the novel's enduring relevance and its profound commentary on the human condition.

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Dr. Oliver Johnson

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Green Symbolism in The Great Gatsby: A Reflection of Desire and Deception. (2024, Jun 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 24, 2024, from
“Green Symbolism in The Great Gatsby: A Reflection of Desire and Deception.” GradesFixer, 12 Jun. 2024,
Green Symbolism in The Great Gatsby: A Reflection of Desire and Deception. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 Jul. 2024].
Green Symbolism in The Great Gatsby: A Reflection of Desire and Deception [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 12 [cited 2024 Jul 24]. Available from:
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