The purpose of this essay is to analyze the literary techniques F. Scott Fitzgerald uses in order to critique the upper society as well as analyze how Fitzgerald wrote ahead of his generation by using the historical events of his time to emphasize situations regarding the upper class. F. Scott Fitzgerald dives into many different conflicts in such a short amount of time in this book. A common theme throughout the book deals with the corruption and unhappiness in the upper class. This led me to create the research question, How does F. Scott Fitzgerald critique the upper class in The Great Gatsby by using the motif of weather and the symbolization of color throughout? The two terms of measurement stated in the research question are used heavily throughout and have thus deemed important to Fitzgerald. I plan to find out exactly what Fitzgerald means to convey by using weather and colors in order to emphasize a greater meaning of the upper class.
This has led me to believe that in The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the motifs of weather and the symbolism of color to portray the unhappiness and turmoil of each character, in order to criticize the materialism and emptiness of the upper class. The 1920s was known as an important decade for America where economically and socially the country prospered. Throughout the known “Jazz Age” many great pieces of literature came out, one of them being The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald is a perfect example of someone who idolized the upper-class lifestyle and wanted to be a part of it. He carries similar qualities and characteristics as Jay Gatsby and thus supports my idea of Fitzgerald believing in the corruptness of the American dream. The research questions stated above holds a great deal of importance as Fitzgerald is known as one of the greatest authors of his time.
Through further searching to find out as to why Fitzgerald used such a negative tone against the upper society as a whole can help e better understand more about such an important author. The research regarding this topic can also be looked at searching into a society that had become a norm. The upper class was a lifestyle everyone wanted to be a part of, yet the truth of how these people act comes out with Fitzgerald’s writings. The implications of the book itself could shatter a whole norm apart, resulting in the American dream becoming a fantasy that is unachievable. Throughout the book the people within the upper class are looked at as untouchable from the law, this creates the question of how much can people get away with such acts as long as wealth is involved. Is Fitzgerald able to use his status in society to let readers understand the truth behind decades-old traditions committed by the upper class and thus opens the query of will money overpower ethics and morals?
My plan to answer the research question as stated above begins with searching through the book in order to find specific examples where Fitzgerald heavily uses both the motifs of weather and the symbolism of color. Through this, I hope to further look and understand which characters are heavily correlated to the use of these literary techniques. This will allow me to understand why Fitzgerald uses the two terms of measurement to emphasize the emptiness of the upper class. I then hope to find other sources that have viewed the importance of the two literary techniques used throughout the book. By viewing their point of view, I will be able to understand how they view the use of the motif of weather and the symbol of colors. There is no right answer as to what Fitzgerald is trying to say about the upper class, but I hope to be able to further understand as to why the two literary techniques have proven to mean a great amount of importance in the book itself.
Motif of Weather In The Great Gatsby, the seasons represent the overall flow of conflict throughout the book as well as the mood of the setting within the book. The book itself is very vague regarding specific time and when events take place. Instead, Fitzgerald uses seasons and weather to help give readers an understanding of time itself. An example of this is when Nick describes the hottest day of the year, “The next day was broiling, almost the last, certainly the warmest, of the Summer”. This summer heat is happening at the time that Gatsby informs Nick that he did not trust the servants only to fire them for Daisy. The truth about their affair soon becomes known to Tom and ultimately creates an awkwardness and tension in the scenes of the day. This tension is the buildup for what will become the climax of the story itself.
Fitzgerald is emphasizing the intense heat that is causing a feeling of uncomfortableness that the summer is bringing. Through Fitzgerald saying that this was the last day of summer, he is foreshadowing of what is yet to come in the autumn time. Summer symbolizes the climax of the story where most of the secrets are revealed and dealt with. Such instance is when Daisy refuses to say she never loved Tom, allowing Gatsby to truly see her for the person she is. Another instance is the accident that kills Myrtle, ultimately killing the affair between Tom and Myrtle. Summer represents when the tension and within the story the beginning to the end. This idea is also further supported when Gatsby dies on the first day of autumn. The season of summer brought out all of the conflicts in order to create the falling action to the story.
Gatsby’s death ultimately symbolizes the end of the book in which Fitzgerald brings a close to a character corrupted by the upper-class values. Gatsby became someone he wasn’t all to gain the love of a woman who valued money and materialistic things than moral values. Fitzgerald uses the seasons in order to emphasize the real nature of the upper society and allow them to be brought to light. In The Great Gatsby, the weather is used to emphasize how a character is feeling without simply stating their emotions. Fitzgerald uses this technique throughout the book to emphasize the weather affecting the characters and their emotions. One instance is when Nick describes the day Gatsby and Daisy meet. He states that “The day agreed upon was pouring rain” (Fitzgerald, 83). Through saying the “day agreed” Fitzgerald emphasizes that Gatsby and Daisy have a sadness and uncomfortableness about seeing each other again.
They both are not sure if they will never be able to move on from their past. The rain is ultimately symbolizing the tension and pain that comes with these two characters. As Daisy and Gatsby try to fix their relationship the weather mimics those feelings, when “After half an hour, the sun shone again…” (Fitzgerald, 88). The weather changing so quickly symbolizes the mixed emotions going through both Gatsby and Daisy’s mind, both unsure of what their relationship will really mean. Fitzgerald stresses the dynamics of Gatsby and Daisy’s relationship to show how toxic it is. Gatsby becomes someone he is not and transforms to fit the perfect mold of the upper class all to gain back the love and affection of Daisy. Fitzgerald is pointing out the toxic relationships that are hidden by money and materialistic things within the upper class.
The weather shows that even though the characters within the upper class have everything, they are not truly happy. Fitzgerald is emphasizing that true happiness and love is not something that can be bought as shown through the dynamics of Daisy’s relationship with both Tom and Gatsby. Fitzgerald further uses the motif of weather to foreshadow what could be coming next. He uses the weather to implicitly stating the upcoming events throughout the book. Fitzgerald uses this to bring a sense of mystery to the book just like the mystery that surrounds the upper class. At the beginning of the book, the backstory of Nick’s life becomes known as well as his reasons for coming to Long Island. Nick comes to West Egg in hopes of a fresh start and new beginning. Through an intense amount of imagery around the West Egg and its beauty emphasizes that Nick believes that good things will soon follow.
“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” (Fitzgerald, 4) The sunshine and the growth mentioned emphasizes growth and a new beginning. Fitzgerald uses the descriptive imagery of the weather in order to emphasize how Nick wants new opportunities. This belief of new possibilities and new beginnings ties with the American Dream that became the basis for the get-rich-quick idea. Fitzgerald alludes to the fact that the rest of society can only look into the upper class through a looking glass and truly do not know the full truth. This can be seen through Nick’s character where he moves to New York, looking in on the life of the upper class. The overall use of weather is critiquing the upper class through emphasizing the heightened emotions each of them struggles with especially during the summer.
During the summertime, Gatsby throws these big parties in order to win back the affection of Daisy. Gatsby truly believes that she has only ever loved him and is winning Daisy with the only thing that matters to her, money. During the summertime, most of the important conflicts take place regarding the love triangle between Daisy, Tom, and Gatsby. The intense heat throughout the summertime puts pressure on the characters resulting in them making rash decisions. This idea can be seen when Gatsby takes the blame for driving the car that kills Myrtle when it was really Daisy. This reckless decision ultimately causes Gatsby’s demise. Fitzgerald is ultimately using the weather to accentuate the fact that the elite society puts on a facade of being happy. Throughout Gatsby tries desperately to win back a relationship that is doomed from the beginning.
The struggle and pain that surrounds this relationship are further emphasized through the symbol of weather. Fitzgerald uncovers the true pain and misery that follows with people who live in the upper class. Symbolism of Color Throughout the color green is used to emphasize the idea of life and the future. In many instances throughout books, green symbolizes the idea of life and vitality, this coincides with the green light mentioned in certain instances in the book. The green light is especially used to represent Gatsby’s character and the American dream. At the beginning of the book where Nick describes the first time, he sees Gatsby. He states, “Involuntarily I glanced seaward— and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of the dock. When I looked once more for Gatsby he has vanished, and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness”.
Through the use of the color green as shown above Fitzgerald represents the shortness of someone’s life. The green light itself represents the upcoming future; the light is far away which emphasizes the mystery and ambiguity of life in the future. When Nick looks for Gatsby he emphasizes that he disappears. The disappearance of Gatsby surrounded by the green light foreshadows his own death later on. The green light is no longer shining at the end of the quote highlighting the balance between life and death. When further looking into what the green light meant from other points of view, I found that some found it to be a beacon of hope in Gatsby’s eyes. Zhang Haibing viewed Fitzgerald’s use of the green light to be used to emphasize the emptiness of the American dream. “In The Great Gatsby, the green color runs throughout the whole novel, and it is closely related to Gatsby’s short life.
So it symbolizes Gatsby’s original dream and hope, the ceaseless pursuit of his dream and even the corruption of his dream and life.” Ultimately Haibing views Gatsby’s character to be an example of someone that fell victim to the upper class and the lies within it. Thus the green light makes its final appearance in the book when Gatsby dies, ending the faith in the American dream, “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”. The symbol of yellow is used to emphasize wealth and the upper class. During the 1920s there was the idea that anyone could become wealthy and you could get rich quick. This idea became the American Dream that is heavily emphasized throughout the book. During the 1920s, there was a successful period for most Americans where many were gaining wealth and moving up into the growing middle and upper class.
This idea is specifically modeled through Gatsby’s character, formerly known as James Gatz. James Gatz grew up poor and took advantage of the roaring twenties bootleg operations and quickly fell into wealth. Gatz decides to change his name to reflect the character of the upper class, now as Jay Gatsby, he becomes the ideal bachelor to win over Daisy. When Gatsby becomes wealthy, he chooses the color yellow to emphasize his wealth. He buys himself a yellow car and golden ties. The use of yellow and gold emphasize money and wealth during the time period. During the depicted roaring twenties in The Great Gatsby, materialism becomes an influence on everyone. Showing your wealth by buying expensive and extravagant things became a norm throughout society.
Gatsby uses his wealth to show off to Daisy because he thinks Daisy only ever loved him and the extravagant parties will win her over. While yellow is most associated with Gatsby, it is emphasized that the yellow (wealth) is a facade he puts on around others. F. Scott Fitzgerald uses Gatsby’s characters as a key figure in explaining the unhappiness of the upper class. Gatsby is the product of the get the rich quick idea and only uses his wealth as a ploy to win over the one of Daisy. Fitzgerald emphasizes the facade the upper class puts on hides their true personalities and ultimately mask the emptiness within them.
Fitzgerald is emphasizing Gatsby is ultimately following this ideal lifestyle that becomes the cause behind his own demise Through the use of the color white, The Great Gatsby emphasizes purity and beauty specifically through Daisy’s character. Many of the times Daisy is described there is an underlying tone of superficialness surrounding how she looks and the lifestyle she lives. Fitzgerald even goes as far as to describe her house with white details saying, “The windows were ajar and gleaming white faint the fresh grass outside.” (Fitzgerald, 8) This takes place when Nick visits Tom and Daisy’s house for the first time. By emphasizing the white and purity of Daisy’s house Fitzgerald is emphasizing the ideal woman. Daisy represents the perfect woman during this time period, she represents the beauty and purity of a woman.
Many women took on the housewife roles where they maintain the household and care for the children. The contrast of gleaming white windows against the green grass can be used to emphasize the symbolism of beauty and life intertwining with each other. The idea of staying pure and beautiful can be taken away as time goes on. Daisy’s character struggles with her insecurities about who she is and that takes a toll on her ever becoming her own person. Zhang Haibing states Fitzgerald’s using symbolism of white when “describing Daisy with the color of white, it indicates that under the pure and beautiful appearance, Daisy owns a superficial, hollow, cold and selfish heart inside. Her life is full of nothing except luxury and she wastes every day in boringness and loneliness,” (42) After reading this article, I now view the white surrounded by Daisy as a way to describe her emptiness emphasizes Fitzgerald’s critique of the upper society.
Ultimately Daisy has been shielded from the outside world and has been raised in a superficial environment. This shallow exterior that Daisy clings onto shows Even though the upper society characters portray an ideal lifestyle, the materialistic and emptiness overshadows true happiness. Throughout the book, there is an insight into the life of the upper class and the life that they live. During this time period, many hope to gain wealth fast and become a part of this elite society. Fitzgerald has a similar story to Gatsby’s character; he grew up in a poor area and then took advantage of what America has to offer. Fitzgerald writes Gatsby’s character in similarity to his own in order to address a deeper issue of the corruptness of the American dream. An example of when the truth about the upper class comes to light is when Gatsby says the truth about Daisy. Nick is the outsider looking in and soon realizes the materialistic facade people with wealth use. When Gatsby and Nick begin talking about Daisy, Nick finally comes to the realization of the true person she is.
“Her voice is full of money,” he [Gatsby] said suddenly. That was it. I’d never understood before. It was full of money- that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the symbol’s song of it… High in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl… (Fitzgerald, 120). Fitzgerald yet again brings in the symbolism of white when describing daisy and her character mention a “white palace.” While the palace may look fancy and beautiful, there is an emptiness inside that money cannot fill. Daisy only knows wealth and this superficialness is easily seen through as noticed by Gatsby and eventually Nick. Even though Gatsby is in love with Daisy, he knows that she is engulfed in the materialistic aspect of the upper class. Gatsby blindly pursues a dream of having Daisy, empty and sel, all the while changing himself into someone he’s not.
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