Example of Literary Analysis Essay

Example of Literary Analysis Essay

Title: The Symbolism of the Green Light in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”


F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby” is a masterful exploration of the American Dream, wealth, and the allure of unattainable aspirations. Throughout the novel, the green light at the end of Daisy Buchanan’s dock serves as a potent symbol that encapsulates these themes and reflects the characters’ desires and disillusionments. Through careful analysis, we can uncover the rich layers of meaning behind this recurring motif and its significance in the narrative.

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1. The Green Light as a Symbol of the American Dream

At the heart of “The Great Gatsby” lies the elusive American Dream, a notion of boundless possibility and upward mobility. The green light, situated across the water from Gatsby’s mansion, serves as a constant reminder of Gatsby’s ultimate goal: to win back Daisy and attain the wealth and social status that would solidify his place in her world. The green light represents Gatsby’s relentless pursuit of a better life, one that seems within reach yet remains just out of grasp.

2. The Green Light as a Beacon of Hope

The green light also functions as a beacon of hope for Gatsby, who envisions it as a guiding star leading him toward his desired future. The light’s proximity to Daisy’s home symbolizes his yearning for a renewed connection with her and the life he imagines they could share. In this sense, the green light becomes a representation of the idealized love and happiness that Gatsby believes lies ahead, even as he remains trapped in the past.

3. The Illusion of the Green Light

While the green light holds promise and hope for Gatsby, it also encapsulates the illusory nature of his aspirations. As Nick Carraway observes, Gatsby reaches out to the light across the water “as if it were almost tangible.” This description underscores the intangible nature of Gatsby’s dreams, which are constructed upon a foundation of memories and unfulfilled desires. The green light’s distant and unattainable nature serves as a reflection of the superficiality and emptiness that can accompany the pursuit of material success.

4. The Green Light’s Connection to Wealth and Materialism

Fitzgerald uses the green light to comment on the destructive power of wealth and materialism in the Jazz Age. The Buchanans, living in opulence across the bay, are associated with the green light through their proximity to it. Their affluence is a facade, and their lives are marked by moral decay and emotional detachment. By linking the green light to the Buchanans, Fitzgerald underscores the idea that the pursuit of wealth can lead to disillusionment and moral bankruptcy.


In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” the green light emerges as a multifaceted symbol that encapsulates the complexities of the characters’ dreams, desires, and disillusionments. Its representation of the American Dream, hope, illusion, and materialism contributes to the novel’s exploration of the cultural and social tensions of the Roaring Twenties. Through the lens of the green light, Fitzgerald offers a poignant commentary on the human pursuit of success, the transient nature of happiness, and the elusive nature of the very dreams that define us.