The Great Gatsby is a historical novel published in the 1920’s by author F. Scott Fitzgerald. The story follows a war veteran by the name of Jay Gatsby, who dedicates his whole life to gain the love back from his previous girlfriend, Daisy Buchanan. Throughout the novel, Fitzgerald uses the colours both green and white to create a idea of reality versus illusion within the novel. While the colour green represents Gatsby’s hopes and dreams for Daisy, he does not achieve his life long goal. The colour white is attached with Daisy throughout the novel as being pure and innocent, but it can be seen that Daisy does not always portray those character traits.
The colour green, in the real world, is often associated with rebirth, growth and hope. Fitzgerald uses the colour green, in the form of a green light that stays lit at the end of Daisy’s dock as a major symbol in his novel. Once Gatsby sees the green light at the end of the dock for the first time in chapter 1, he is fixated on the light and the thought that Daisy is still there. The light can be seen as a symbol representing Gatsby’s dreams, hopes and desires. As long as the light is still burning, Gatsby believes that Daisy is still there and they will be able to rekindle the love they once had. Jay reveals to Daisy that he looks out at the light every night by saying “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). This is signifying that Gatsby uses the light as a motive to keep believing in the illusion that him and Daisy will be together in the end. Amy. M Green provided her insight in the “The Critical Reception of The Great Gatsby”, when she said
“The green light at the end of Daisy’s dock and the spell it casts over Gatsby as he tries to force the world into his version of the American dream endures as a iconic symbol of both optimism and failure.”
From a outsider point of view, it is easy to see that Gatsby was caught up in the green light and relied on the burning light as his only hope with Daisy. With that being said, Gatsby never achieved his lifelong dream to be with Daisy by the end of the novel. Gatsby had lived his whole life to be with Daisy once again, but in reality he would never be with Daisy because of his fatal ending. Jay Gatsby had to pay the highest price possible for having his heart set out on only one thing, death. This idea can be explained with a quote from Nick Carraway, the narrator of the story. “No telephone message arrived, but the butler went without his sleep and waited for it until four o\’clock – until long after there was any one to give it to if it came. I have an idea that Gatsby himself didn\’t believe it would come, and perhaps he no longer cared. If that was true he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream” (Fitzgerald 111). After Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan had gone their separate ways, Jay would do whatever he could to regain that love. He threw elaborate parties in hopes that Daisy would attend and devoted his life to being with Daisy. It may be thought that because Gatsby only had one dream and one purpose in life, that would be the reason that he would have a short life ended by a fatal gunshot. By Gatsby being shot, he never achieved what he sought out to have.
Barbra Will added to the idea of Gatsby not achieving his dream by saying, “ Jay Gatsby, a figure marked by failure and shadowed by death throughout most of the novel”. This signifies that Gatsby ultimately failed at his life goal and cannot live it down. The first look at the symbolism behind the green light is the illusion that Gatsby will achieve his love with Daisy, but the reality behind it, is that Gatsby did not get to be with Daisy, and that is what ultimately killed him.
The colour white also plays a significant role in The Great Gatsby and is closely related to the character of Daisy Buchanan. The colour white is widely known as standing for immaculate and pure beauty. It is also closely related to nobleness and purity, all of which Daisy shows without digging deeper into her character. When Jay meets Daisy for the very first time, she is wearing a white dress. She is continually associated with the colour white because of her white car, white house, white dress and that her name is also a white flower. The reader thinks that because Gatsby has devoted his life to her, she must be perfect in every way possible. A flashback to when Daisy was eighteen years old suggests “She dressed in white, and had a little white roadster”(Fitzgerald 74).This is the first time Fitzgerald talks about Daisy’s innocence and her younger years of life.