Great Gatsby - the Green Light
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald deals on one level with Jay Gatsby’s hopes and dreams, but on a deeper level also deals with the Great American Dream. The novel starts and ends with a reference to the green light at the end of the dock, indicating an important symbolism. The first time Nick catches sight of Jay Gatsby, Gatsby “stretched his arms towards the dark water […] [Nick] distinguished nothing except a single green light […] that might have been at the end of a dock.” (Fitzgerald 2000:25). Fitzgerald ends the novel by again referring to the “green light at the end of Daisy’s dock.” (171).
The protagonist of the novel is Jay Gatsby, a wealthy young man from the Midwest, who has moved to the New York in the East to pursue his
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The green light also loses its magical attraction, and simply becomes a green light – “the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. […] His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one.” (90). Nevertheless, Gatsby holds fast to his dream – it has been his raison d’être for so long, he is unable to let go, even when Daisy decides to stay with Tom. When Daisy kills Myrtle Wilson, Gatsby is happy to take the blame to protect Daisy, even though she shows a callous lack of conscience about causing someone’s death and allowing someone else to take the blame. As a final insult, Daisy simply moves house to get away from the unpleasantness caused by her own actions, and doesn’t even attend Gatsby’s funeral.
This is parallel to the realisation that the image of happiness held by people in their pursuit of wealth and success is an illusion – the reality is never as perfect as the dream. The corruption is so absolute that people prefer to maintain the illusion rather than admit that their dream may be flawed, or even entirely without substance.
At the end of the novel, Nick imagines the East and West Eggs without any houses – as they must have appeared to the earliest settlers – “a fresh, green breast of the new world.” (171) comparing Gatsby’s dream of reconnecting with Daisy to the discovery of America and the promise it held.
Fitzgerald’s disenchantment with the moral failure of