Gold Symbolism In The Great Gatsby

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The different variations of the color yellow were by far the most prominent and recurring symbols in The Great Gatsby. In the novel, gold was a common theme, seen on objects ranging from clothing to vehicles or even characters, themselves. Often, when gold is mentioned in literature, it is traced back to its original form: currency. Dating far back into history, gold has been used as trade and represents wealth and riches. The precious metal has been used to show prestigiousness and extravagance since its discovery. Relating back to the American dream, the whole theme of The Great Gatsby, many Americans fled to California in the 1840s in hopes of becoming rich by digging for gold. With this in mind, it is not difficult to understand why Fitzgerald …show more content…
Scott Fitzgerald does not only use the color gold as the obvious symbol for money and wealth; he uses gold to represent death. Literature often uses symbols taken from historical references, and perhaps Fitzgerald referred back to the Greeks for the origin of this symbol. Analogous to many other civilizations, ancient Greece’s main form of currency was gold coins. With roots back to mythology, many people in this society believed that once a person died, he or she would need to take gold into the afterlife with them. This was because, in the Greek belief, the boatman in the underworld, Charon, would have to be bribed in order to take a person’s soul across the River Styx. Ergo, a gold coin would be placed in or on the mouth of the dead in order to insure a successful trip in the underworld. With that background, it can be assumed that Tom Buchanan’s yellow car was actually a symbol. After it had been established that Myrtle had died at the fault of passing car, one of the first questions asked, directed toward a witness, was the color of the car. “‘It was a yellow car,’ [the witness] said, ‘big yellow car. New.’ ‘See the accident?’ asked the policeman. ‘No, but the car passed me down the road, going faster’n forty. Going fifty, sixty (139).’” After this quote, it is learned that the car that hit Myrtle was the car driven by Daisy and Gatsby on their way back from the hotel. In all honesty, it only makes sense that the car that hit and killed Myrtle would be yellow. Knowing that the color represents both gold and death, the car represents what was holding back both Tom and Myrtle’s relationship and Gatsby and Daisy’s affair: money. Money was the only shallow reason that Daisy and Tom were still together, despite their unhealthy relationship. Myrtle could never live up to the class and social standings that Daisy had, which is why Tom never left Daisy for Myrtle. Therefore, Myrtle’s death, which is now what keeps Tom and her from being together, is

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