Colors in Symbolism
Colors can symbolize many different things. Artists use colors in their paintings
when they want you to see what they are trying to express. Like if an artist is trying to
express sorrow or death he often uses blacks blues, and grays basically he uses dreary
colors. You automatically feel what the artist is trying to express. When the artist uses
bright colors you feel warm and you feel happiness. In the novel The Great Gatsby, F.
Scott Fitzgerald is like an artist. He uses colors to symbolize the many different intangible
ideas in the book. He uses the color yellow to symbolize moral decay decadence and
death. Then he uses the color white to symbolize innocence. He also uses the color green
to express hope. Fitzgerald's use of the color green the strongest. Although these are not
the only colors that Fitzgerald uses for symbolism, they are the ones that he expresses the
most. This book is a very colorful book in the sense that it uses colors to cover so many
different aspects of peoples lives.
Fitzgerald uses the color yellow to symbolize moral decay. On (Page 18) he writes
" The lamp-light, bright on his boots and dull on the autumn-leaf yellow of her hair." He is
talking about Tom and Jordan Baker, and he is suggesting that tom might be heading for
moral decay. In the book there are several things that Tom does that might prove this. First
of all Tom is having an affair with Myrtle Wilson. A second thing is that he does not like
Gatsby, and several times he tries to prove that he is not who he says he is. Tom even
hires a detective to prove this. Gatsby had a Rolls Royce that was yellow "His station
wagon scampered like a yellow brisk-bug . . ." (Page 39). Gatsby's car was referred to
many times in the book, but it was always referred to as "The yellow car" (Page 157).
The color yellow was used most frequently when there was a death. One of the
first things that Fitzgerald wrote about when Myrtle died was when they laid her on a table
in the garage. He wrote "The garage, which was lit only by a yellow light in a swinging
wire basket overhead" page . Wilson her husband was in a dazed state, and kept referring
to his car only as the "Yellow car" (Page157) "That big yellow car" (Page141). That car
led to Gatsby's demise. Just before Gatsby was shot by Wilson, Gatsby decided he was
going to take a swim in his pool. He had not used it all summer. The chauffeur helped
Gatsby fill up a mattress he was going to use in the pool. "Gatsby shouldered the mattress
and started for the pool. Once he stopped and shifted it a little, and the chauffeur asked him
if he needed help, but he shook his head and in a moment disappeared among the yellowing
trees." Page (161-162) Perhaps another sign of his demise.
Green is a very strong color in this book. It symbolizes hope. Gatsby and Daisy
had met for a short time before he went off to war. When he returned he knew that Daisy
had married Tom. He desperately wanted to get back together with her. So much so that
he bought a house where he could see Daisy's house from his. Gatsby was able to pick out
a green light at the end of her dock, and often looked toward it. I feel that green was
symbolized as the deepest feeling in this book. Gatsby was so close to his dream of being
with Daisy. He worked hard to get where he was, but before he could achieve his dream
his life was ended.
Another color that was used frequently was white. It symbolized innocence. (Page
75) Jordan Baker talks about Daisy, "She dressed in white and drove a little white roadster
. . ." I think what Fitzgerald is saying is that when Daisy was younger she symbolized
innocence. He also expressed that thought when he says she had a white girlhood on (Page
20). He also talks about the steps to Gatsby's house as being white. Maybe what he was
saying was that on the outside it looked innocent, but on the inside it was not.
Fitzgerald also uses many other colors such as silver, gray, pink, lavender, brown
and black to symbolize the many other feelings. In this book he shows us how society uses
colors to express our feelings. We use black at funerals, white at weddings, and red with
war and love. Many people use colors to express their feelings, and don't even realize
what they are doing.
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