The Great Gatsby Contents
Light and happiness
Gatsby’s house is often brightly lit, signifying his impressive wealth, as electricity was still an expensive commodity in the 1920s. Gatsby’s parties are illuminated by ‘constantly changing light’ and he lights up his house from ‘tower to cellar’ at the start of Chapter 5, even though there is no party, seemingly in anticipation of the reunion with Daisy. When Gatsby and Daisy have met each other and had some time to adjust, Nick notes that Gatsby ‘literally glowed’ and ‘smiled like a weather man, like an ecstatic patron of recurrent light’.
The lights go out
Light symbolism is also used to represent Gatsby’s retreat from the public eye:
Daisy’s rejection of Gatsby, as narrated by Gatsby via Nick, is also marked by the absence of light:
Daisy’s green light
The green light at the end of Daisy’s dock is another powerful symbol in this novel. First noted in Chapter 1, in a passage which has many references to light and dark, the green light is ‘minute and far away’. It is obscured by mist when Gatsby reveals the significance of the light to Daisy in Chapter 5. This revelation sparks an important comment on symbols from Nick:
Nick’s comments here suggest that symbols can gain and lose meanings, but the light remains meaningful to Nick as he ponders the journey taken by Gatsby in the final lines of the novel:
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