When reading the novel
When reading the novel, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, I did not expect for something as simple as the green light to have such a huge effect and importance to the plot. This light having a big effect on one of the main characters really grabs the reader’s attention and makes us want to find out more and question it all. Fitzgerald uses the symbolism of the green light in order to praise those who maintain hope, humanity, and progress within a corrupt society.
The notable green light is first come across in chapter one where Nick Carraway, the narrator, encounters Jay Gatsby and “didn’t call to him, for he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone- 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, that might have been the end of a dock. When I looked once more for Gatsby he vanished, and I was alone again in the unique darkness” (Fitzgerald 20). This quote gives us an interpretation of how meaningful and an unique quality the single green light has towards Gatsby. Gatsby was standing outside trembling looking and reaching towards the East Egg. This quote was mentioned at the end of chapter, ending with a form of mystery adding to his character. The green light symbolizes something great, and it can be inferred at first that holds some sort of goal Gatsby wants to reach since he is realistically trying to reach towards it, and Nick was there to witness the effect it had on him giving a very mysterious vibe. Later on in the novel, it is discovered that the dock where the green light is, belongs to the one and only Daisy. Daisy is the young woman who had a romantic history with Gatsby and as it is shown that Gatsby has not forgotten about it. Moving on through the book, Gatsby ended up using Nick and finding a way to reach Daisy and when talking to her, he revealed that “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). Gatsby revealed to Daisy himself that he basically watched her and knew it was her house.
His love for Daisy can be a little obsessive, but him not giving up hope is what matters. It is pretty obvious now, knowing the green light is related to Daisy, shows Gatsby as a normal human figure like everybody else because he has true feelings, good intentions, and hope within himself which is hard to find in a person now in this corrupt society. Gatsby having Daisy back in his life again meant that the “colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one” (Fitzgerald 93). One of the biggest symbols in the book was losing its importance because Gatsby had Daisy in his arms. The author used this quote to show how Gatsby did not give up hope and humanity and was able to successfully reach his romantic goal, Daisy, the love of his life.
Throughout the book, the green light wasn’t mentioned again till the very end, where its symbolism came back and held great meaning and memory. Gatsby ended up getting shot and killed by Wilson. The green light was one of the ways Nick remembered him and “sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night” (Fitzgerald 180). In this quote, Nick remembers the now dead Gatsby and his main goal. The green light held hope, unattainable dream, and future. Gatsby wanted Daisy to be his future and him being mesmerised by the green light at her dock shows us that he always had an eye out towards her direction. Gatsby had come a long way with effort, but in the end was all slipped away from his fingers and gone. The author used this quote to show how anything can be gone in a matter of seconds and Gatsby did not know what was coming to him. Now everything is just dark and dull in Nick’s life since he lost his closest friend. Nick ended his thoughts of Gatsby and his death in a positive way saying how “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 one fine morning- So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” (Fitzgerald 180). Nick was the only one who stayed true to Gatsby all the way till the end and with him dead, Daisy gone, the green light became an ordinary object and just a memory. The novel ended with this quote, which held a great meaning on how we all try to hold onto the past, but life moves on. The green light was such an important symbol in the beginning, but in the end just became an observable object. The author used this quote in a way to “motivate” us to move on with life, reach our goals, and not give up on hope and humanity.
The Great Gatsby is such a popular novel that there is an article by James E. Miller who had a great reaction and response to Gatsby’s character saying how, “Gatsby is the only character (except Nick) capable of trembling in the “unquiet darkness” of the novel. Surely he is the only character in pursuit of something transcendent and worthy of his own sub mission. And it is his tragedy that his vision of transcendence comes to focus on an object that is enchanting on the surface, rotten at the core” (Miller 169). This quote talks about how Gatsby was one of the only characters to be able to have fear within him. Gatsby had his flaws and wasn’t the perfect man which shows his human nature. It says how he had a goal, but it was never fully reached and his life and ended in tragedy. The author is telling us how something can look so nice on the outside, but deep down it can be the rotten and the worst, which was Gatsby’s case. This novel included a lot of hope, humanity, and progress within a corrupt society. It was thought that, “Gatsby’s desire is not peculiarly American, but his stupendous self-assurance that he can recreate the past may well derive from the dark underside of the American Dream. But time will run out on Gatsby, as it has on the American Dream- and as it does on all human dreams and desires and aspirations” (Miller 170).