In The Great Gatsby, why has "the colossal significance of that light...vanished forever" and Gatsby's "count of enchanted objects...diminished by one"?  

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Romance is contaminated in The Great Gatsby. Although Gatsby has a tremendous capacity for romance and an extraordinary gift for hope, in Chapter Five when Gatsby is finally reunited with Daisy, he finds himself re-evaluating everything through the lens of this reunion. Nick remarks,

He hadn't once ceased looking at Daisy and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes. Sometimes, too, he stared around at his possessions in a dazed way as though in her actual and astounding presence none of it was any longer real.

It is during this re-evaluation by Gatsby that he realizes Daisy is no longer the "enchanted object" which he has created in his "ghostly heart." For this reason, the green light which heretofore has held great symbolic meaning for Gatsby, a beacon of hope that he can return to the delights of the past, now is merely a green light that rests on a dock. Clearly, there is a disillusionment that occurs within Gatsby as there is no longer any hopeful light but only a false light from, the "gleaming floor bounc[ing] in from the hall" in his mansion built in imitation of Restoration salons and Marie Antoinette music rooms.

As Nick departs, he notes that Gatsby's face expresses bewilderment,

as though a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness.

This doubt suggests that Daisy "tumbled short of his dreams," not because of her own fault, Nick adds, but because the romantic and idealistic Gatsby has created in her "a colossal vitality." With her maudlin sentimentality and worship of material things--she cries and buries her head in his many-colored shirts--, the idealistic vision of Daisy is tainted and her voice becomes but "a deathless song" to the false charm of money.



Read the study guide:
The Great Gatsby

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question