Symbols and Symbolism Essay - Symbolism in The Great Gatsby

Symbols and Symbolism Essay - Symbolism in The Great Gatsby

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Symbolism in The Great Gatsby


Symbolism is what makes a story complete. And it is used through "The Great Gatsby." Virtually anything in the novel can be taken as a symbol, from the weather, to the colors of clothing the characters wear. There are three major symbolic elements used in the novel, they are water, colors, and religion.

Water to me seems to mean "wasted, and or lost time." I believe this because of several reasons. One being that he is separated from Daisy by an island sound. Gatsby wishes that the island sound be gone so that there will be no obstacle between him and Daisy, and he also wishes for time to be gone, the island sound seems to represent the distance of "lost time." Another is that in one of Gatsby's parties people start dancing in the water, displaying how they waste their time day after day with no real purpose. Gatsby's only purpose and ambition in life was to get back with Daisy, but after he starts to realize that it will not happen and that he has been consumed by wasted time he goes for a swim inside a pool he had never before used and is murdered.

Another symbolic element is color. Several colors if not all are symbolic in the great Gatsby the more noticeable being white, green, and yellow. The first time Nick meets his cousin Daisy at Tom's and Daisy's home, she was dressed totally in white. So as the house and its furnishings are also tuned in light shades. This fact might be interpreted as beauty, cleanliness, wealth, innocence, virginity and also laziness. Daisy's color is white, she wears white dresses and recalls her "white girlhood", and this use of color helps her to characterize her as the unattainable "enchanted princess" who becomes personified as Gatsby' s dream. The green light at the end of Daisy's Buchanan' s dock, becomes a key image in "The Great Gatsby." The initial appearance of the green light occurs when Carraway sees Gatsby for the first time, standing in front of his mansion and stretching out his arms to `a single green light, minute and far away that might have been the end of dock' (p.

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22, l 31-33). The light has become, for Gatsby, the symbol of a reunion with Daisy. Green is very significantly associated with both the green light and the "green breast of the new world", uniting the hope and promise of Gatsby' s dream with that of America itself. The color green is traditionally associated with spring, hope and youth.
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